June 2017 Cavity / Platform Nester Update

Osprey Head On - Photo Earl Harrison

Delaware County American Kestrel Project (June 15)

Dick Phillips and I have banded 63 kestrel nestlings from 13 nests. Two, and possibly three, families have eggs and we will be checking all 18 boxes in the project during the second week in July. It looks like a good season for our smallest falcon.

Alum Creek Prothonotary Warbler Project (June 20)

At last count, five families, each with five banded Prothonotary Warbler nestlings, have fledged among 45 boxes and nestjars at the most northern region of Alum Creek Lake. Two additional pairs of golden swamp warblers have laid eggs. Tree Swallows and House Wrens are also raising families along the northern and western shores.

Carolina Chickadees

Normally, the chickadee nesting season is complete by Memorial Day. Twenty-eight chickadees fledged from five nestboxes. Two boxes on the Ohio Wesleyan University campus produced five and six chickadees, respectively, while the same numbers, five and six, fledged from the riparian habitat along the Olentangy River at the Olentangy Environmental Control Center, a sewage treatment facility across the river from Highbanks Metro Park. And, I enjoyed a family that raised six chickadees in my yard in Delaware.

Managed Ospreys, June

Managed Ospreys nest on man-made platforms installed for them. Many thanks go to Bruce Lindman and Tom Domin for cleaning off our four platforms at the north end of Alum Creek Lake along Hogback Road on March 4. Presently, three of the four platforms support Osprey triplets, while a natural nest also has three nestlings along the western shore across from the most southern platform. The Osprey pair that built the nest in a dead tree for the third straight year had built a preliminary nest on platform #3 before deciding to go with a natural nest. Their first nest built on platform #3 did not go to waste since Canada Geese used it to raise a family. So, we have twelve young Ospreys being catered to at Alum Creek. In the past, Ospreys have fledged between the first week of July through August, so take a spotting scope and enjoy watching some good family life.

The Hoover Reservoir Boardwalk at Galena is another hot spot for Ospreys thanks to Dan Hall of Westerville’s Wild Birds Unlimited. Dan organized members of the Big Walnut Nature Club to straighten two platforms that had been pushed by ice to the point where Ospreys were hesitant to nest. The platforms were installed in 2002 and 2008.

After volunteers straightened the platforms, Dick Phillips installed “livestock panels” around both platforms that he and Nature Club members filled with rocks so that each platform has a ten-foot wide circle of rocks more than four feet high that will prevent ice from pushing the platforms from their vertical stance. Osprey families were on both platforms on June 17.

I have not taken time from my busy schedule to count heads on the active Osprey nest south of Rt. 229 at the north end of Delaware Lake. I will count nestlings at this site in July. Also, most cell towers near rivers and lakes support Osprey nests. I worry about what the radiation is doing to our fish hawks but that is a topic I will address later.

At the end of the nesting seasons, I will present more detailed descriptions, and presently, I must continue to collect data and finish teaching “Bluebird Trail Management” for one more week at OWjL Camp, an academic camp for middle-schoolers at OWU.

Bluebirds and House Wrens are now into their second nestlings as are some Tree Swallows. However, swallows have shown symptoms of below average insect populations with smaller than normal clutch sizes, death among nestlings, and extended incubation periods. I won’t know the degree of their problems until the end of the nesting season when I can analyze my data. I suspect that winter yo-yo temperatures caused insects to emerge from hibernation only to have them zapped by returning cold temperatures.

Happy climate change everyone!

American Kestrel on Wire - Photo Earl Harrison
Prothonotary Warbler right - Photo Earl Harrison
Carolina Chickadee - Photo Earl Harrison
Osprey on Nest - Photo Earl Harrison