A Study to Determine the Preference for Nesting Box Design of Sialia sialis (Eastern Bluebird), Tachycineta bicolor (Tree Swallow) and Poecile atricapillus (Black-capped Chickadee): Comparison of the Traditional Nesting Box and the Peterson Box, Year 3

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2014
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Virginia Tech. Powell River Project
Abstract

The 2014 nesting season was the third and final year of our study comparing the Peterson box to the traditional rectangular bluebird nesting box. Unlike the traditional boxes, Peterson boxes are wedge shaped, decreasing the internal volume of the box and the amount of material required to build a nest. The idea behind the Peterson design is that the number of young fledged per nest will be higher over the traditional design. By reducing the energy required for nest building, more energy would be available for rearing young. As during the previous season, bluebirds, tree swallows and chickadees utilized the Peterson boxes. During the 2014 season, nest building activity was equally distributed between the two types of boxes (8 and 9 partial or complete nests in traditional and Peterson boxes, respectively). However, the pattern of egg laying activity shifted from the first season, with bluebird only laying eggs in Peterson boxes; while chickadees and tree swallows laid eggs in both box types. The number of eggs laid, hatching success and fledging were not enhanced by the Peterson design. Three seasons of data was pooled by species and across species. Differences were not found to be significant, with the exception of bluebird egg production. Average bluebird clutch size was higher for the traditional box than for the Peterson box. As in previous season, student volunteers from Mountain Empire Community College performed maintenance along the trail and assisted in the monitoring of nesting activity.

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