Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prothonotary Warblers at Northwest River

Guest Blogger Shirley Devan back with an update on the nest boxes at Northwest River Park in Chesapeake. April 25 Brian Taber [President of CVWO and boat driver in above photo], Jan Lockwood [Williamsburg Bird Club member wearing the WBC hat], and I checked 58 nest boxes by motorized canoe – 39 boxes that have been in place for three years and 19 new boxes installed in mid-March.

Carolina Chickadees are early breeders and we found 9 CACH nests, most with eggs and two boxes with nestlings. April 25 was the birthday for one clutch of 5 and the other box had 4 nestlings 4 days old.

Twenty-four of the older boxes showed evidence of Prothonotary Warbler nest building – everything from 1” of moss to a complete nest with three eggs! Another nest had one egg. The eggs are creamy white with dark brown speckles. The nests are a combination of moss and cypress twigs, usually 2-3 inches of each with the cypress twigs on the top layer. We observed one PROW female approach a box with nesting material and another flew out of a box as we approached. Incidentally we observed a good size watersnake curled up on a limb nearby!

New boxes installed in mid-March are not seeing much activity – except from wasps. We did hear PROW singing near these boxes, but not in the quantity we observed in the area of the established boxes where we heard or saw a PROW near almost every box. We’ll see what happens to these new boxes as the nesting season progresses.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prothonotary Warbler box update at Northwest River Pk

Guest blogger: Shirley Devan, reporting from the Prothonotary Warbler nest box trail at Northwest River Park in Chesapeake, VA.

The Prothonotary Warbler boxes at Northwest River Park in Chesapeake are open and ready for birds to move in. And a few have taken us up on the offer.

April 13 and 14, Steve Living and I along with three volunteers, Les Lawrence, Janet Lockwood, and Geoff Giles, checked over 80 boxes by motorized canoe and discovered 9 Carolina Chickadee nests (no nestlings yet), one Prothonotary Warbler nest, and quite a few wasp nests. Male Prothonotary Warblers are definitely back in Virginia – seen and heard everywhere along the box trail.

This citizen science project is supervised by Dr. Bob Reilly, Master Bander and VP of CVWO and Professor in the Center for Environmental Studies at VCU, with assistance from Steve Living, Wildlife Biologist with VA DGIF and Shirley Devan, Williamsburg Bird Club and Historic Rivers Chapter, VA Master Naturalist.

Above is a photo of the Prothonotary Warbler nest found April 14, constructed with cypress twigs. Also, a photo of Steve Living driving the boat and "happy" Les Lawrence installing “false fronts” on the boxes to help us capture male Prothonotary Warblers later in the season as they feed the nestlings.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Big Day at College Creek Hawkwatch

Today, Fred Blystone, Bill Williams, Shirley Devan and I were on hand for the 3rd best day in the 15 years of the hawkwatch. We saw 146 birds of 10 species and set a new daily high for Northern Harriers at 10. The photo is one of today's closer birds, an immature Bald Eagle. We also saw 2 Purple Martins, a few Barn Swallows, 2 Dunlin, 6 Lesser Yellowlegs and 2 very high Common Loons. The wind was light west and southwest...strong sun and temperatures 50-60 F. Tomorrow is expected to be an unseasonably warm 80+ degrees with strong winds and severe storms at the end of the day. Despite very poor migration conditions during the last 10 days in March...cold temperatures, strong north winds, rain and snow flurries...we are far ahead of the average season pace.


Black Vulture 20

Turkey Vulture 71

Osprey 35

Bald Eagle 2

Northern Harrier 10 (new daily high)

Sharp-shinned Hawk 3

Red-shouldered Hawk 1

Red-tailed Hawk 1

American Kestrel 2

Merlin 1

Brian Taber