Saturday, June 30, 2012

Birds that Nest in Man-made Structures


Of all the birdhouses I've seen, this is my favorite -  made entirely out of Birch. Seen at Khlem Arboretum, Rockford, IL; 5/7/2011.
You've heard of a pet door? A curious Tree Swallow checks out what all the commotion is about, Colored Sands Forest Preserve, IL; 6/2/2012.
Most birds will build their own nests (see yesterday's post); however, there are some who just like the convenience of moving into a ready-made structure. Bluebirds and House Wrens especially are species that typically will nest in man-made boxes. Another bird that comes to mind are Tree Swallows who love to occupy these birdhouses that were intended for Bluebirds (Above). Purple Martins almost exclusively nest in bird houses made especially for them (Below). One of the hazards of building boxes in hopes of attracting Bluebirds, Wrens, Swallows or Martins, is that they do not automatically attract these species first. Less desireable species such as House Sparrows or European Starlings often take over these types of houses. In fact, House Sparrows will nest anywhere and in anything. I've heard of sparrows nesting in old shoes, wheel wells of cars, clothes pins bags hanging on a clothes line, and even one inside a garage on top of the garage door opener. Someone must have let their garage open long enough for a sparrow to put a nest on top and lay eggs. Anything that is convenient and left lying for any length of time is a potential nesting place for a House Sparrow.
"It Takes a Village." Purple Martins enjoy the condo living style in these man-made houses, Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, WI; 5/29/2011.
"Those dang Bumpesses!" Mr. and Mrs. Martin sitting on their front deck with a look of disapproval at their unruly neighbors, Horicon Marsh NWR; 5/29/2011.
"Don't mind me. I live here." A Tree Swallow staking its claim on a Bluebird house, Horicon Marsh NWR; 5/29/2011.
The Tree Swallow (Above) checks to make sure all is okay before entering its abode. Other Swallows [Barn, Northern Rough-winged (Below), and Cliff] like to use bridges, porches and other underhangs that are safe from inclement weather to buld their nests. Then there are Chimney Swifts, which not only like to roost in the chimneys on man-made buildings, but are even named from their behavior. My question is, what were they named before chimneys existed in their habitat?
A dream home? or a pipe dream? This Northern Rough-winged Swallow found a home in a drainage pipe off the Pierce Lake Dam in Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/8/2011.
"A Room with a View." A typical box built for Wood Ducks, Horicon Marsh NWR; 10/16/2010.
Another type of man-made box built for birds are specifically built for waterfowl such as Wood Ducks (Above). However, once again, this doesn't assure that only Wood Ducks will use these structures. The Mallard (Below) sure looks like he's found a comfortable home...
"There's a great view from the upper deck." This Mallard sure looks like he's claimed this Wood Duck box. The Green Heron in the Upper Left corner seems to be green with jealousy. Rock Cut State Park, IL; 5/17/2009.
"Using the Widow's Walk to wait for the Terns out at sea to come home." Horicon Marsh NWR, WI; 5/29/2011.
Even though the Forster's Terns (Above) seem to be attached to the nesting box, it is more likely that they are using it for a perch to scope out prey in the water. Their nests usually are on the ground in the sand or dirt or on a floating raft of reeds.

This nesting box looks like a good candidate for a "fixer - upper" for some very handyman duck, Rock Cut State Park, IL; 3/27/2010.
"Spacious Living." This Osprey is looking over the edge of its large nest built atop of a man-made platform, Isla Contoy, Mexico; 12/21/2010.
Another type of structure specifically constructed for nesting purposes are the large platforms on top of a tall towers. These platform towers are built for and used by Ospreys (Above and Below).
"The loft in this unit is a plus." An example of an Osprey Tower. Photo credit: Brian Tague
These Osprey towers are being built in many natural areas where Ospreys breed or in places that are trying to attract breeding Ospreys. The Link (Below) is from Brian Tague's website which includes his photography mostly dealing New England landscapes and wildlife...

However, just because humans have built these Osprey towers doesn't mean only Ospreys will utilize them. Other species have also been using these towers: Canada Geese, Hawks, and Eagles. Also Osprey's nesting habits do not necessarily mean they will only use these towers. They are likely to build nests on aything that is tall and large enough to hold their huge nests which can weigh more than 250 lbs and measure almost 4' in diameter.
An Osprey nest with modern ameneties, near Cancun, Mexico; 12/20/2010.
While vacationing in Mexico in the winter of 2010, on our way out to Isla Mujeres, we boated past a utility tower that had a huge Osprey nest on top. In the photo (Above) you can see the head of the Osprey sitting in the nest.
It looks like there are eight units in this Apartment building for birds, Khlem Arboretum, Rockford, IL; 5/7/2011.
Like the Osprey Tower, the birdhouses (Above and Below) are bult on a post, and unlike the Osprey towers thay are much smaller in scale, but they offer the opportunity for more bird families.
This birdhouse is more like a quadplex, with four units,  Khlem Arboretum, Rockford, IL; 5/7/2011.
Mail Slots? This house is obviously not built for birds, unless it is for very skinny birds or it where they pick up their mail. Can you guess what it is used for? Khlem Arboretum, Rockford, IL; 5/7/2011.

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