Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ohio Rules the Roost!

A young Eastern Bluebird, Sialia sialis, peers from its abode. Someone kindly made and placed this nest box, to the benefit of these Vinton County bluebirds.

One of the many valuable projects spearheaded by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is Project NestWatch. Participants in this program register nests with the Lab, thus helping to create a database of North America's nesting avifauna. The NestWatch e-newsletter just arrived today, and Ohioans can be proud.

This is the top 20 list - the species for which the most nests were reported. The Eastern Bluebird is Numero Uno and no surprise there. People love these gentle little thrushes, and have placed thousands and thousands of next boxes for them. And monitor the boxes diligently. I see the dastardly House Sparrow (one of my favorite birds, Shhh, don't tell anyone) checks in at #6. I suspect a good chunk of those sparrow nests were in boxes built for bluebirds and other far more desirable native species.

This chart lists the top 20 states in regards to nest submissions, and looky there! Ohio is smack on top of the pyramid! The Buckeye State probably doesn't get its due in terms of landscape diversity, and the sheer number of natural history enthusiasts that are doing wonderful things within our borders. Thus, it's immensely pleasing to see a stat like this.

Here we have the nuts and bolts of who is doing what and where. Ohio takes five of the twenty slots, including #1. I suspect that most of those 721 nests that were submitted by the Ohio Bluebird Society - Delaware Chapter were built and placed by Dick Tuttle, a local legend and major frind of the bluebird, Tree Swallow, and other cavity-nesting songbirds.

Holden Arboretum, a national and local treasure, is also high on the list. If you haven't visited Holden, be sure and get there soon. The place is utterly spectacular. Darlene Sillick, who is involved with the aforementioned Tuttle and the Delaware Bird Club has contributed an impressive number of nests.


And Charlie Bombaci, setting all kinds of records in the world of Prothonotary Warbler nest box trails. Where would the Golden Swamp Warblers be without Charlie, at least in central Ohio? He slots in at #10 and is cited for 160 nests, and I bet most of them are of our only eastern cavity-nesting warbler. Most of these nests are probably in boxes that Charlie placed for the birds at Hoover Reservoir, just north of Columbus.

I made the above video a few springs back, of a Prothonotary Warbler investigating a natural cavity along the bird trail at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. It offers a taste of the spring that will be on us before we know it, and a nice look at the species that Bombaci has done so much to help. Who wouldn't want more Golden Swamp Warblers?

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