2017 Songbird Nest Box Results

September 29th is the deadline for reporting nest box results to the Wisconsin Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. We are glad to report that 19 volunteers monitored 16 locations in Columbia and Dane Counties that fledged 1,129 songbirds from 267 nest boxes this summer.

Jerry Martin with the homemade nest boxes. Photo by Mark Martin

Jerry Martin with the homemade nest boxes. Photo by Mark Martin

Jerry Martin constructed and donated over 250 nest boxes to Madison Audubon Society in 2010. We erected many boxes at Goose Pond Sanctuary and also provided boxes to partners. Jerry made the boxes out of untreated cedar and this durable wood has weathered well.

This year 290 eastern bluebirds, 565 tree swallows, 27 black-capped chickadees, and 247 house wrens fledged. Every year weather conditions are different and impacts nesting success. The cool weather in June resulted in a lack of insects shortly after tree swallows hatched and a number of broods were lost to starvation which is sad to see.

At Goose Pond Sanctuary and our Erstad Prairie we lack trees and short grass cover that are preferred by bluebirds. Bluebirds feed on cutworms in the grass and they cannot locate cutworm in tall grass prairies. However, the pond and open habitat, along with nest boxes provide ideal tree swallow habitat. We were pleased to have 255 tree swallows fledge at Goose Pond and 66 fledge at Erstad Prairie.

The Martin’s trail at Wildland and the monitors in Dane County did better with the bluebirds due to oak savanna habitat, and golf courses with short grass and scattered trees. Curt and Arlys Caslavka, Kathie and Tom Brock, and Sally Keyel had 46, 40 and 41 bluebirds fledge from their trails.

Fledgling bluebird, photo by Patrick Ready

Fledgling bluebird, photo by Patrick Ready

Sally Keyel took the first place in the house wren department this year with the 109 wrens that fledged from the Sun Prairie golf course. For other monitors it was an average or below average year for wrens.

Only three trails had black-capped chickadees fledge this year and those numbers are down a little from other years.

Thanks to the nest box monitors for their weekly site visits and to the organizations that allow our monitors to place trails on their lands. The monitors educate many people over the summer on songbird nesting ecology, especially on the golf courses.

Tree swallow nestlings, photo by Patrick Ready

Tree swallow nestlings, photo by Patrick Ready

In September, eastern bluebirds, tree swallows, and house wrens head south for the winter. At Goose Pond Sanctuary we had hundreds of tree swallows gathering in large flocks before migration. We hope all of our songbirds have a good migration, find good weather in the south and return in good numbers in 2018.

If you would like to monitor a nest box trail at Goose Pond Sanctuary in 2018 please contact us (goosep@madisonaudubon.org).

Written by Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin, Goose Pond Sanctuary resident managers, and Maddie Dumas, Goose Pond Sanctuary land steward

Banner photo: Eastern bluebird, photo by Patrick Ready