A Study to Determine the Preference for Nesting Box Design of Sialia sialis (Eastern Bluebird): Comparison of the Traditional Nesting Box and the Peterson Box, Year 2

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Virginia Tech. Powell River Project

The 2013 nesting season was the second year comparing the Peterson box to the traditional rectangular blue bird nesting box. Peterson boxes have a lower internal volume, requiring less material and parental effort for nest construction. It has been suggested that by freeing up energy for rearing young, fledging success could be improved over that of the traditional box. As during the previous season, bluebirds, tree swallows and chickadees utilized the Peterson boxes. However, unlike the 2012 season, more nests were built in Peterson boxes than in the traditional boxes. Of the 11 nests built in Peterson boxes, eggs were laid in 8 boxes of which only 4 successfully fledged chicks. Eggs or chicks were lost to predators from 3 of the Peterson boxes, while one clutch of 3 chicks was found dead in the nest. Five nests were built in traditional boxes, of which three fledged chicks. Hatching and fledging success were higher for eggs laid in traditional boxes than in the Peterson boxes. However, the paucity of clutches (2 of the 3 clutches in traditional boxes were in the same box) makes it difficult to draw a conclusion about hatching of fledging success. Student volunteers from both the general biology and human anatomy and physiology classes at Mountain Empire Community College assisted in the monitoring of nesting activity during the course of the breeding season, as well as maintenance along the trail.