Thursday, May 8, 2008

Life in the High Net.

The Brown-headed Nuthatch project is moving along. Seven cavities are or have been under observation by volunteers throughout the Park. And more cavities are being searched for during this nesting season. The nest in the cavity in the snag near the bridge by the banding station fledged at least four young nuthatches over the weekend of May 3-4.

The post-hatching, feeding phase of the nesting period provides an opportunity to capture and mark each adult within a cluster. (The birds are highly unlikely to abandon a nest in which there are hatched, growing young.) In the case of the station cavity, three of the four adults attending the young had been marked earlier in the spring before nesting began using a call tape and net. To catch the fourth adult required a "high " net. That was accomplished on April 29th.

CVWO provided funding to purchase two 30' telescoping aluminum poles. These poles were lashed to two 6' farm fence posts driven into the ground. A 20' mist net was suspended between the poles and raised to the general elevation of the cavity entrance in one of the flight paths used by the adults to bring food to the cavity. Good fortune was on our side, as the first bird captured was the unmarked adult. The bird was the breeding female of the group. She became white over purple and some of us now call her "Jellybean." If you look closely, you may see her in the far lower, left hand corner of the high net, about 24' in the air! There are now 28 color-marked nuthatches living in FLSP.

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