Keep an eye on the birds

Grit Magazine
July/August 2007
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Did you know cavity-nesting birds in northern latitudes produce more fledglings when they nest in boxes facing east or northeast? Did you know a higher number of eggs fail to hatch in southern climes?

Interested birders have kept tabs on cavity-nesting birds and nest boxes for 10 years, reporting more than 70,000 nest records to The Birdhouse Network, a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. The records have helped expand knowledge of bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens and other species that make their homes in trees and nest boxes.

Participants record where and when birds build nests, how many eggs they lay, and when the fledglings take their first flights, among other data. A special study, Personality Profiles, has participants placing harmless, novel objects near nests and observing the birds’ reactions. The goal of the study is to determine why some species do well in cities and around people, and why other species don’t.

People of all ages can join The Birdhouse Network.

“Without the data sent in by participants, we would not be able to track large-scale trends in the reproductive cycles of these birds,” project leader Tina Phillips says. “Whether they monitor one box or 100, our participants are so dedicated to the birds, and the data they provide us year after year is incredibly powerful.”

For more information on The Birdhouse Network, visit the Web site, , or call toll-free (800) 843-2473. 

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