Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Nest Box Survey for Brown-headed Nuthatches

On March 12th Ray Callahan, Len DiIoia and I checked eight nest boxes in the Radford Arsenal to see if there was any nesting activity. Five of the boxes we had put up in pine woods last fall were filled with pine shavings and three were empty.

None of the boxes showed any sign of nesting material placed in the boxes, although one of the boxes with pine shavings seems to have had some critter (a small bird, or maybe a mouse) scratch, or dig into the shavings.

We put shavings in some of the boxes because chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches will sometimes select these over empty boxes --- perhaps so they get the feel of excavating or enlarging a nesting cavity, so to speak.

Anyway the target species for the nest boxes is the Brown-headed Nuthatch, a species known only to reside year round at one location in the Ridge and Valley region of Virginia, and that site is at the Radford Arsenal. There are many acres planted in Loblolly Pine on this property and likely the birds feel perfectly at home, since this habitat resembles the pine forests of more southern locations in the Piedmont and Tidewater sections of the southeastern US. Nesting has been observed there in previous years, and the species has been residing on the property for at least seventeen or so years.

At the first box we checked we did hear one Brown-headed Nuthatch making squeaky rubber duck like sounds, about fifty to seventy-five feet from the box. At two other boxes we heard vocals from Carolina Chickadees nearby.

We hope to go back soon to check the boxes again, and maybe this time we will find some of them being used for nesting. I hope that on later reports to have some pictures of the nest boxes and of some of the birds we see during our surveys.

Here is the bird tally we had for the afternoon:

Gadwall 5
Mallard 1
Ring-necked Duck 11
Hooded Merganser 1
Wild Turkey 21
Turkey Vulture 4
Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern) 3
Ring-billed Gull 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Mourning Dove 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 20
Carolina Chickadee 6
Brown-headed Nuthatch 4
Carolina Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Eastern Bluebird 9
American Robin 126
Northern Mockingbird 1
Cedar Waxwing 63
Pine Warbler 22
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 27
Eastern Towhee 1
Field Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 9
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 10
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Eastern Meadowlark 2
Common Grackle 2
House Finch 4
American Goldfinch 1

1 comment:

  1. Yes...very good, Clyde, and thanks. I need to see this famous arsenal someday.