First, some of the boxes constructed by the 5th graders at St. James-Gaillard Elementary School were damaged during the trip from the school to the swamp. Second, the nest boxes built by the summer campers of 2009 had their tops taped on, which would make inspecting the nests difficult. This was quickly rectified in a flash of master naturalist pocket knives. Next, all the nest boxes needed top and bottom ventilation holes. After several more boxes were constructed from newly arrived cartons, the entire lot and crew moved to the maintenance barn for some painting.
Once the painting began, several lessons were quickly learned...1) point the can away from one's face before attempting to apply paint, 2) do not set up downwind from a group of spray painters, and 3) short bursts and a light coat followed by a second coat minutes later is infinitely more effective than a firehose-like application method. Many hands make quick (and humorous) work! Once the paint had dried, the bottoms of the boxes were mark, so that students can be informed when THEIR nest box has been adopted by a pair of Prothonotary Warblers or possibly another bird species.
Yesterday, a few of the boxes were placed on the posts of the interpretive signs around the boardwalk. Last year, several pairs attempted to nest on top of the posts behind the signs. One pair did so successfully behind the sign at #3 and fledged three chicks. However, since some failed to complete the nest building behind the signs, we decided to provide a cavity option. Additionally, the nest boxes near the boardwalk will allow visitors and students to observe some Prothonotary Warbler nesting behavior and allow the education staff the opportunity to discuss Project PROTHO and bird conservation.
Today, it looked as if a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) was attempting to create its own nesting site. Can you get an ice cream headache from pounding your head against the tree in the near-freezing temperature?