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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes


Region 7, April 20, 2013
Refuge Volunteer Rod Cyr helps a child assemble a tree swallow nest box.
Refuge Volunteer Rod Cyr helps a child assemble a tree swallow nest box. - Photo Credit: n/a

On April 20, the Refuge hosted 11 children at its second Cavity Nesting Birds Workshop. Kids and parents learned about the two most common cavity nesting birds found locally: tree swallows and black-capped chickadees. Lessons included nesting biology and how to build and install nest boxes that are healthy and safe for the birds.


Tree swallows are migrant insect-eating birds. Recently there has been concern about the population health of species in this group of birds. Chickadees, on the other hand, are resident omnivores who may nest in the boxes in spring and roost in them in winter.

Participants were encouraged to monitor the nesting activities in their boxes and contribute information to the Cornell Nest Watch Web Site: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=1139. Refuge staff have maintained 5–10 nest boxes on the Refuge compound and at staff housing for over 15 years and have contributed to the Nest Watch database since 2007.

Unfortunately, last year was a bad one for nestlings. We lost the entire clutch in 3 of 6 boxes and half the clutch in another box. Although some dead nestlings were sent to the Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, they were unable to determine the cause of death. We hope nesting success is better this year so we can see our nestlings take flight!

Contact Info: Julia Pinnix, 907-246-1211, Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov