What’s in the box? Part Two

Anna FasoliGeneral News and Info1 Comment

As long as I am in Florida, I’ll be able to add to my “What’s in the box?” series of posts as I continue to monitor a network of Southeastern American Kestrel nest boxes (Check out the first here What’s in the Box? Part One).  Box checks are finally producing what I have been anticipating for 2 months….kestrel eggs!  All through the month of march, I checked boxes to find anywhere from 1-5 eggs, and as of today I am still finding nests that have just been initiated with a single egg. In a week or so, I’ll hopefully be reporting my first hatched eggs!

While the first two months of nest box cleaning and monitoring had me scooping out squirrels, this month has me scooping out European Starling nests in between all the kestrel egg counting.  While we welcome all native birds, we remove European Starling nests, as they are a nonnative species responsible for displacing a disturbing number of cavity nesters each year.

European Starling nest: note "messy" appearance and starling whitewash on walls

Tufted Titmice and Eastern Bluebirds have also taken over their fair share of nest boxes, but we welcome them, along with Eastern Screech-Owls.  Great Crested Flycatchers have arrived back in Florida over the last few weeks, and it is only a matter of time before I find a few of them nesting in our boxes.

Eastern Bluebird nest: note thin well-placed grasses and central well-formed nest cup

close-up of Eastern Bluebird eggs

Tufted Titmouse nest

close-up of Tufted Titmouse eggs (very small/pale eggs)

 

Still, one of my  favorite things to find in a box is an Eastern Screech-Owl!  These cute owls are starting to lay eggs, which I will also keep an eye on.

Eastern Screech Owl - gray type on nest

Eastern Screech Owl - defensive posture at nest (puffing up and swaying back and forth)

close-up pf Eastern Screech-Owl eggs: note lack of color and overall "round" shape

Eastern Screech-Owl on 3 egg nest

What's better than one Eastern Screech-Owl in a nest box? Two in a nest box!

Of course, I have a few persistent families of Flying Squirrels that refuse to stay out of boxes. These  little mammals sure are cute, until they climb up the pole and pee on you!

young Flying Squirrel (cute? or gross?)

 

And while this next critter wasn’t *in* a box, he was on the ground under it…

Gopher Tortoise

 

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for reports of hatched kestrel eggs and even more surprises in nest boxes!