Box survivors

I was worried that all the wintering storms would have destroyed half of our boxes, but I am very glad that most of them are hanging and intact. Overall we lost at least 5 boxes, and have another 6 needing repairs. There were a few sections of some sites we could not check yet because of the water levels, so perhaps there are even more lost or damaged. But the number of lost or damaged boxes is pretty low, so that’s great news.

Russell Ranch had some boxes in bad shape. This one here is missing a door, and a woodpecker or something else made a new hole in the back.



I’m not even sure how this box was still hanging, but this luckily this one will be an easy fix.




Nestbox plant

Last weekend when I was birding along Putah Creek, I found an extra hanging box outside our normal nestbox trail. It was one of our old boxes but it hadn’t been checked in a long time. We took it down today because it needed some repairs, and we’ll redistribute it to a site needing some box replacements.


Anyhow, we found a little plant sprouting inside the box! The seed must have come from bird poop, nesting material, or the wind.



Water levels at Putah Creek

The water levels of Putah Creek are pretty high, and they are about to get higher with the upcoming rain. The Lake Berryessa glory hole spillway is almost ready to overflow. When this happens, the creek is going to flood even more.


Lake Berryessa glory hole spillway. Feb. 11, 2017

This week we have a short break from the rain, so we decided to do a quick nestbox inventory to see how many boxes are still hanging, and which ones needs replacement or repairs from the wintering storms.


Most of our nestboxes are still hanging nicely, though some are a bit out of our reach.


Nestbox at Diversion Dam. Feb. 13, 2017




Nestbox at Diversion Dam. Feb. 13, 2017



Dry Creek Confluence – not so dry. Feb. 13, 2017




Mace Blvd. Feb. 14, 2017


Mace Blvd. Feb. 14, 2017


Nestbox at Picnic Grounds. Feb. 14, 2017


Trail submerged at Old Davis Rd/Restoria. Feb. 14, 2017


Old Davis Rd/Restoria. Feb. 14, 2017


I’m not sure how field work will go when the lake overflows. When the creek floods even more, we may have limited access to many of our nestboxes. But it sure is exciting to have all this water! Yolo County hasn’t been this flooded since 2006.



Migrating Tree Swallows

I went birding at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area this morning and saw hundreds of Tree Swallows! This group is unlikely to include our banded Tree Swallows from our nestboxes, as these are probably migrating from further up north. But how cool would that be if one of these guys was one of our banded birds!




And there was also one Barn Swallow in the group. He really stands out with his orange colors amidst the green/blues and whites of the Tree Swallows.img_7084


Nestbox Project in UC Davis CA&ES Magazine and Highlights

Our nestbox project is in this fall/winter’s UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences magazine and highlights!

Here’s the magazine:

And here’s the video that goes with it:


The UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology rocks!! 🙂


Fledged Nest

When we check nests after giving the appropriate amount of time for the nestlings to fledge, I love seeing this:


Fledged Tree Swallow nest

It looks and smells terrible, being so full of poo, but this is actually a good sign. A poo-filled box shows that the nestlings have successfully fledged out of their nest. The parent birds stop cleaning up after their babies when it gets closer to the time for them to fledge, creating the build up of poo. If there was a nest with not much poo after the nestlings should have fledged, that would more likely indicate a depredated nest. I’m always happy to see poo-filled nests because that means the babies have made it out to the big world!

We have finished cleaning out most of the nestboxes now. There are just a few left but those currently have chicks on the verge of fledging.