Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Updates!

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Updates!

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. (Bluebird Investigation, Rejuvenation, & Discovery) is one of several collaborative efforts with the Christopher Farm & Gardens!

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Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Update - June 12, 2024

Submitted by Tom Friedrichs, Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Lead

Much more humid than previous this spring. It's supposed to be warmer today and trending downright hot for the next two weeks. 91° by Sunday, at least inland that is. 

Late correction, by the time I finished, a nice breeze was coming off the lake... very nice; was much nice for the SCCCF pulling ox-eye daisies in the daisy field. 

Lots of pelicans cruising today. I did not see any bank swallows this time.

Turkey trot east. Parent stayed on the nest until I knocked on the back of the box, then flew out. Four bright blue eggs. Everything looks good.

Turkey trot west. As I approached, the Wren parents were very busy around and in and out of the box. Eggs were deep and I couldn't tell if there might've been a hatchling in there.

Turkey trot, general. Saw and heard a magnolia warbler and a common yellow throated warbler; the latter is common in wetlands in WI, saw the leucistic Robyn (one of two?), and up close saw two Orioles at the top of a dead tree, looked like they were collecting spiderwebs that had caught cottonwood seeds. They were singing regularly, in the distance a third oriole was singing; also heard a red breasted woodpecker. The orioles are stunning through the binoculars. 

IMPORTANT: For all nest boxes in the prairie, from here out please do observe from a distance, and record, but we will leave the boxes closed until the birds fledge. Watch for fledglings hanging out near the nest box and in adjacent trees being attended by parents. 

Prairie, south, new, West. Parent bluebird stayed on the nest until I was opening the door. The chicks are big, did a good job of hiding their eyes and beaks; the nest looks like a sea of feathers.

Prairie South, old, middle. Same as previous, nice nest but no parents or eggs. 

Prairie South, old, East. TS parent flew out when I approached. Same as the bluebirds, the chicks are large, eyes open and wing feathers seem developed.  Just like last week, RWBBs staged close to the middle box, seemed agitated. Not sure what's going on there. 

Pumpkin patch. The brown eggs scattered around the box (not in a nest bowl) from last week were completely gone, some of the nest seemed to be missing as well but part of the combo TS and HR nest remained. Another mystery.

Walking to the Bioswale, along the split-rail fence, noticed a pile of feathers that had a blue tinge and were immature looking. Observed three of the bluebird chicks on the split rail fence 15 feet from the north box, gray/brown/ spotted body with just parts of the tail and wing feathers showing the characteristic brilliant blue; which will come in as the chicks mature. Two other BBs joined them (parents?) and they flew off.

Bioswale north. Box is empty. The previous family seems to be hanging around, see notes directly above. Look for them if you are in the area.

Bioswale south. Nothing in that box, wrens were very close by in the small trees and calling/singing.Orchard north. Wren dummy nest. No evidence of the previous chickadee nest and eggs.Orchard south. No eggs or chicks, seems like a layer of small red dogwood twigs is being built on top of the old wren nest. I assume the wren chicks fledged and are out; but have not seen them.

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Update - June 5, 2024

Submitted by Mary Schueller

The excitement continues! This week there are more new bluebird eggs; fledging has occurred, etc! Special thanks to Jennifer King and Leah Heusterberg for accompanying me today. And, thanks, Tom, for being "on call" for our many questions.

#1 Orchard North - there was no evidence of the previous chickadee nest or eggs; there appeared to be a dummy house wren nest in this box (with no eggs) so we removed it

#2 Orchard South - house wren nest containing 4 tan-colored eggs; parent bird flew away as we approached

#3 Pumpkin Patch - tree swallow nest containing 3 tan-colored eggs; moved one egg back into nest or it would have been destroyed when closing the door (see photo)

#4 Prairie South - bluebird chicks in nest with eyes open; unable to tell the exact number as they were all "huddled together" (see photo)

#5 Garton Curve North - tree swallow on box; there appeared to be at least 4 chicks which had just hatched

#6 Bioswale North - fledging of the bluebirds has occurred! No evidence of any "issues" (i.e. searched ground surrounding box). After discussing with Tom, removed nest. Tom will clean box possibly tomorrow.

#7 Bioswale South - appears to contain a wren nest; 2 white-colored eggs present

#8: Corn Dog Trail - five tree swallow eggs

#9: Garton Curve Southeast - bluebird nest with 4 new eggs; there was a bluebird flying around nearby (see photo)

#10: Turkey Trot West - large wren nest; no eggs; nest removed; heard wren in nearby trees

#11: Turkey Trot South - bluebird nest; 4 eggs

#12: Prairie North - tree swallow nest; chicks present (perhaps 4)

PHOTOS:

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Additional notes:

1. The new lighted mirror that Tim ordered off of the internet worked well. (See photo #2). We placed it in the front pocket of the binder in the shed for future use.

2. We did check the box (which is not a box we installed) near #4 in Prairie South. It does contain a bluebird nest. No eggs.

3. Like Tim, I confess that there is so much I don't know. Perhaps we need some inter-rater reliability. As I was recording in the binder, I actually laughed out loud because one box (I don't remember which one) we had listed bluebird, house wren, and tree swallows all for the same box. Are these birds playing tricks on us..........or do we just NOT know what we're doing? Ha!

All in all, it was a beautiful night in the gardens! Thank you for the opportunity to visit.

Mary Schueller

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Update - May 30th

Submitted by Tim E. Renzelmann (fledgling birder)

WOW! That was fun! Certainly the most activity I have seen on the bluebird trail to date!

HIGHLIGHTS: It  appears (at least to me) that we have new chicks! Five bluebird chicks at #4 Prairie South and (possibly) tree swallow chicks at #12 prairie north! Additionally, 3 new bluebird eggs at #11 turkey trot west! See photo of #4! I had come across this lighted mirror on the Internet and gave it a try! I didn't realize how well it worked with my phone (it didn't look that good in real time, at least to my eyes) until I got back to the office and looked at the photos! Next time I'm there I will leave this behind for others to use! It came with a similar mirror that isn't lighted... I left that one behind.

CHALLENGES: The challenges for me are several. 1) Especially on sunny days, I have a difficult time seeing into the dark boxes (even with the lighted mirror). Plus, tree swallow nest feathers are another obstacle. 2) It is difficult for me to distinguish how many eggs when feeling (I'm afraid of breaking them), 3) It is even more difficult for me to be certain if what I am feeling are chicks or how many there are (I'm even more afraid of injuring a baby bird). In such cases, I opt to be cautious and make the best guesstimate and consider previous monitoring reports and wait to see what future reports have to offer for substantiation.  As I expressed to Robyn and to Tom... I really don't know what I'm doing (compared to most of you), but I do enjoy it and it gives me a greater appreciation for another part of life that I have not paid much attention to! So, I very much enjoy it! But, as I told Tom, if I am not up to the standards or others can do a better job than I... or others want to participate... I will gladly bow out and give others the opportunity!!!

Individual Boxes:

#1 Orchard North - same as previous: chikadee 5 eggs.

#2 Orchard South - house wren nest... couldn't see/feel eggs, may have felt chicks... but not sure?

#3 Pumpkin Patch - 5 bright white tree swallow eggs

#4 Prairie South - 5 bluebird chicks - or do I only see four in the photo? (all look healthy)

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#5 Garton Curve North - tree swallow eggs... at least four... may have felt five.

#6 Bioswale North - Robyn had indicated previously that the chicks looked "ready to leave the nest." I wasn't sure if I was to check them... decided to be cautious... saw no activity... didn't open to check.

#7 Bioswale South - NO NEST (a little grass)

#8: Corn Dog Trail - tree swallow eggs... five... parents doing fly-bys!

#9: Garton Curve Southeast - bluebird nest... there was a bluebird flying around as I was checking... no eggs.

#10: Turkey Trot West - dummy nest - removed!

#11: Turkey Trot South - bluebird nest, mom left as I approached... 3 NEW eggs!

#12: Prairie North - Tree swallow nest... could not feel/see eggs... but I think I felt chicks... no clue how many.

SUMMARY of nests currently in various stages of activity (eggs, chicks):Bluebird: #4, #6, #11, (#9 has nest but no activity, but bluebird sitings neaby).Chickadees: #1Tree Swallow: #3, #5, #8, #12House Wren: #2No Nest: #7, #10,

NOTE: I spoke with Tom regarding PTB. He mentioned that this may be "prime time"! As such, we may want to consider increasing monitoring visits or accompanying anyone who is monitoring! So... please communicate when you plan on monitoring as soon as you know... and if you are interested an additional monitoring session... communicate that as well (but, obviously, let's try to keep them 3-4 days apart so we aren't pestering the birds... or CF&G... too much)!!!

  • June 2 thru 8 - Mary
  • June 9 thru 15 - Tom
  • June 16 thru 22 - Leah
  • June 23 thru 29 - Robyn
  • June 30 thru July 6 - Tim

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Update - May 18th!

Submitted by Tom Friedrichs, Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Lead

NOTE FROM TIM: Special thanks to Tom for heading up Project Tweety B.I.R.D., and to the Christopher Farm & Gardens!  CLICK HERE to view the "Community Partner" page related to Survive, Thrive & Be Fit on the Christopher Farm & Gardens website!

Just a quick check Saturday to look at the new box locations and keep an eye on a few things, did not record anything in the binder. Weather was fantastic; sunny, calm and cool upon arrival, a nice breeze off the lake when I left. Noticed quite a few white pelicans flying along the lake's cliff.

WI Spring Morning

General migratory bird activity was low, earlier in the week was amazing, including at CFG. Like one lady exclaimed about the Lion's Den near Grafton, "warblers were dripping from the branches". I would have liked to see that. I'm hoping it's not over, just one more week maybe. I have heard Orioles in the turkey trot area for quite a while, maybe they'll build a nest.

"Turkey Trot west", is the new location Rob recommended for the previous TT north box, i.e. now in the field west of the pond. From a distance I swear I saw a blue bird fly from the box into the bushes, which would indicate some interest. Nothing in the box though.

Turkey trot south. Very interesting. Two bluebirds were sitting on top and flushed to the forest as I approached. Box is still empty, but bluebirds have been hanging around for a while, but not committing. After walking away I observed two wrens that immediately flew over and sat on top of the box; two more wrens fly at them and the four fight it out for a while. Then the two bluebirds come in and like a scene from the movie Top Gun, chase the wrens away, the four wrens retreat and are scolding like crazy. The bluebirds sat on the edge of the tree closest to the box, the wrens were no longer brave enough to approach, but weren't leaving either. I got an awesome look at the male bluebird in the binoculars, beautiful. It makes me wonder if this quarreling goes on throughout the day, and will the wrens eventually wear the bluebirds down. It may pay to keep an eye on this one, fingers crossed the bluebirds don't get chased off.

Orchard north. standard procedure for this box ever since the eggs were laid, the chickadee sitting on the eggs never leaves until we are both right in front of the box and unscrewing the lock. I'd give a sunflower seed for their thoughts when they exit in a bit of panic and come face to face with a big ugly guy with no obvious feathers. Nest looks good, eggs look good. I hope they make it through. Maybe then CFG staff will get to hear their happy singing during the cold winter months.

OrchardN Chickadee

Orchard south. The wrens are done faking us out with dummy nests, a nest is now established with 2 to 3 eggs, so they are likely still laying.

Bioswale South. Still no nest. Maybe it's too close to the north box, I paced it off and it's at 75 long steps, which is a little short of ideal placement. Maybe we will wait until the north box fledges, and then perhaps move the south box a little further away and see what happens.

Bioswale north. Our first successful BB family. Wow, the chicks barely fit in the nest (see attached pic), they have evident flight feathers and body fuzz/feathers are filling in, eyes are not open yet. They seem to look healthy. Just to the west of the Bioswale gardens there is a gourd nest hanging from a low tree branch which I hadn't noticed before, it is being used by wrens to build a nest. One of the bluebird parents was up in that very tree voicing an alarm call. That is sort of concerning in that the gourd nest is a bit close to the Bioswale North box with five bluebird chicks. Those two species do not get along.

Bioswhale N, BBchicks

Corn dog nest box. This box was relocated from the berry patch to north of the bioswale, a few yards from the creek just south of the clover field. The location is a bit off the grid and unless any of you wish to get in a few more steps during monitoring, we can forgo regular monitoring; each person will have that choice. We were hoping some blue birds would jump in right off, but tree swallows beat them to it, and that's ok. As I was admiring their speedy handiwork of a completed nest, with lots of feathers, they were dive bombing within inches of my hat and snapping their bills. Very cool. See attached pic of the swallow nest, the top layer of feathers is evident, with which they cover the eggs while out collecting bugs.

Prairie north new box, established tree swallow nest still with six eggs. They didn't want me around either.

FYI, the prairie has a mix of old boxes, and the new boxes put up last June. The monitoring notes indicate that accordingly.

Prairie north old box, no activity.

Prairie south old box, far east. Tree swallow nest, number of eggs unknown, the parent wouldn't leave the nest, I got a picture of that.

Ma Swallow IMG 0196(1)

PrairieS Swallow

Prairie south middle old box, full blue bird nest but still no indication of interest. Perhaps the birds built that nest, then decided on the shiny new far-west box which is 15 feet away.

Prairie south new box, East. No one around. Bluebird nest with five eggs. Looks like it's doing great. As I was leaving one of the parents flew over and sat on top of the box, a good sign.

Garton Curve North. All the tree swallows are sassy today. I was dive bombed again by both parents protecting their two eggs and a very nice nest.

Garton Curve South. Ma bluebird didn't want to get off the eggs; just as I took a picture she sort of jumped up and laid right back down. In retrospect maybe I should've just closed up and headed out, but took a picture first. From what I have read, they get used to humans opening their door, and poking and prodding.

Ma BB(1)

GrtnCrvS BB

In summary, it was interesting watching several territory disputes. I have read about it plenty, and watched birds chasing each other during courtship season. Reflecting on the energy they put into raising a brood is humbling. It's not an easy life out there.

Check out the attached photos.

Tom Friedrichs - PTB Lead

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Update - May 9th!

We are excited to report that a second nesting box has been inhabited by Bluebirds as Tom Friedrichs reported “four NEW eggs” on May 8th! That brings our current egg count (as of now) to TWO Bluebird nests with a total of NINE eggs (5 in one nest, four in the other)!

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Review & Bird Appreciation Presentation!

By Tom Friedrichs, Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Lead

CLICK HERE to view the Presentation!

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Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Update - April 29th!

Brief summary from  Mary Schueller:

  • Box 6 contains 5 eggs!!!!!!!! (Note to Tim: you made us laugh. You had noted that there was a fat bird nearby. You were right)!!!
  • 5 of 12 boxes (4,5,6,9,12) appear to have bluebird nests in them.
  • 2 additional boxes (1,8) have what appear to be chickadee and dummy nests in them respectively.
  • A box adjacent to box 4 which is NOT one of our bluebird boxes, does appear to have a bluebird nest in it.

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Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Blog Post - June 8, 2023!

CLICK HERE for blog post from June 8, 2023

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Blog Post - May 23, 2023!

CLICK HERE for blog post from May 23, 2023

Project Tweety B.I.R.D. Blog Post - April 20, 2023!

CLICK HERE for blog post from April 20, 2023

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