Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nesting. Getting on with it.

"Konk-a ree!"

Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in April -- things are picking up. I sometimes catch myself being surprised that birds waste no time getting around to nesting after returning from wherever they spent the winter. I think they should just loll around a bit after such a long trip, sort of like the first evening mixer at an annual conference.

Tree Swallows at swallow box.

Tree Swallows, which winter in Mexico, Central America and the Greater Antilles, are among the early returners, along with Violet-Green Swallows, which have a similar though more restricted winter range. More southerly-wintering Barn Swallows, the other widespread summertime species, arrive later.

People are surprised that there are bird boxes for ducks too. A number of species are cavity nesters, including Wood Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser and Bufflehead. They build nests in abandoned Pileated Woodpecker holes or other tree cavities. They will also use boxes such as this.

Wood Ducks are resident in several localities in southern BC, but at this time of year, numbers increase slightly with the arrival of some southern migrants. This duck was not common in the Vancouver region until a series of nest box installations was undertaken in the 1970s. Now Wood Ducks are a guaranteed tick in places such as the Reifel Sanctuary and Burnaby Lake Regional Park.

Compared to Mallards and other dabblers, Wood Ducks are shy, tending to linger in the background near overhanging vegetation at the edges of rivers and sloughs. They don’t quack; they have a somewhat panicked squeak.

Oh yes, they are very handsome.


Mel said...

Great pictures!!
I didn't know there were boxes for ducks!
I keep learning cool stuff every day, thanks!

pookie said...

Those wooden bird boxes - are they from treated or untreated wood? If treated, ain't those chemicals bad for the birdies? If not, how quickly do they rot, get full of mites, etc.?

Hugh said...

The wood is untreated. They have to be cleaned out at the end of each breeding season, and in this soggy climate do eventually rot. They also tend to be taken over by squirrels, if they are installed in a forest. They usually last 3-5 years. School children assemble them from kits. The words' "Beach Grove" on the swallow box is a school name. Sweet, huh?