Counting our nest eggs: BRLT preserves aflutter with spring nesters

Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:15pm

    As the days grow longer, birds are flocking back to Maine, and many local species have begun their search for the perfect home. For a lucky few, BRLT is helping out with some prime nesting real estate with stunning water views!

    Early this spring, Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) volunteer and enthusiastic birder, Stan Wakefield, was busy preparing for the return of our winged residents. Wakefield has long enjoyed birding both here and in his native Florida where, prior to relocating year-round to East Boothbay, he oversaw more than a dozen bluebird nesting boxes. As a volunteer, he was responsible for tracking bird activity at these boxes throughout the fledging season.

    As a volunteer for BRLT, Wakefield is eager to bring some of his knowledge and experience to benefit our local preserves. Over the past month he has worked with Lands Manager, Michael Warren, to install a total of six nesting boxes at Oak Point Farm, and two at Singing Meadows. The installed boxes include four eastern bluebird nesting boxes at Oak Point Farm and two at Singing Meadows; one wood duck nesting box at Oak Point Farm; and one nesting box suitable to either eastern screech owls or American kestrels at Oak Point Farm. Wakefield is continuing to add to these and will have more boxes ready to place when suitable locations are found.

    “As an avid birder and volunteer for BRLT, I’ve wanted to do something to provide increased nesting opportunities for a variety of birds on land trust properties,” says Wakefield. “My goal is to increase the number of nesting birds in the Boothbay area for the enjoyment of the public.”

    All signs indicate early success in his efforts. Currently of the four bluebird nesting boxes at Oak Point Farm, one is active with three bluebird eggs, one is occupied with a pair of nesting white-breasted nuthatches, and a third has the beginnings of a nest that may belong to another pair of eastern bluebirds, though final confirmation is pending. It is still early and there is plenty of time for the other boxes to become occupied.

    With Wakefield’s help, BRLT will be monitoring all of the boxes carefully to track use. Data will be reported to NestWatch, a citizen-science monitoring program developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and used nationwide to track the status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds.

    While visitors to BRLT preserves are asked not to approach bird boxes closely, there will be signs of activity that can be appreciated and enjoyed visually from the trails. Eastern bluebirds, for example, will be quite busy bringing food all day for 2-3 weeks to the newly hatched chicks. BRLT encourages bird enthusiasts of all levels and ages to keep their eyes open for these bird boxes throughout the spring and summer months when they are likely to be active. The land trust will also be posting to social media to keep interested birders informed of activity at these sites.

    In conjunction with bird watching, bird lovers young and old can also enjoy the current story trail at Oak Point Farm, “Mama Built a Nest” by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins. This story uses captivating illustrations and rhyming verse to share the remarkable variety of ways that birds build nests. It is a great way to inspire careful observation and appreciation of our feathered friends. So pull out the binoculars and get ready to enjoy this seasonal wonder!