Feathery Nest Visitors

We now have a total of four European Starling Nest Boxes set up around the property, all at a distance from each other.  They are appropriately named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.  And, as mentioned previously, we’re both delighted and surprised that winter visitors continue to maintain occupancy.

Two starling birds in nest box

Alpha Nest Box:  Two continuous occupants, both very suspicious of us and the first thing we see upon arrival home.  They’ve cleared out the majority of the cedar shavings, which we found out is a good way to track how often any given nest is being “checked out” (they like to remove it and scatter it outside of the nest on the ground; a good visual cue).  We originally intended it for winter warmth and possible soiling prevention; we were wrong on both counts for Starlings, it would seem.

single starling bird in nest box

Beta Nest Box:  A single solitary European Starling has resided in this nest box all winter.  He’s completely removed the cedar shavings.  During the day, several visitors inspect the nest, but it always ends up with just one occupant (perhaps the same one, not yet pair bonded).

two little starling birds in nest

Gamma Nest Box:  This one has an entrance hole on the side, so it’s a bit more difficult to take a flash photo.  Using a flashlight through the entrance hole, the camera can take a picture through a small 1/2″ hole on the perpendicular side.  We’re sure the birds are just delighted at this sort of human behavior, and they tolerate it well.  Absolutely no remaining cedar shavings for bedding.  If you look closely, you can see in the back the removable piece of wood for ventilation during the summer use.

empty bird nest box

Delta Nest Box:  Currently unoccupied, and a bit higher up (thus the odd camera angle).  Some cedar shavings are removed, and as it’s next to the side of the house, we can hear the poke, poke sounds as the birds investigate it each morning.  However, as of yet, it’s not a permanent residence.

If all goes as planned, it should be a great place for new nestlings, as well as the sounds of little babies as they hatch and grow up.  It’s part of the charm, we feel, of early summer!

5 Replies to “Feathery Nest Visitors”

  1. What an interesting idea. Are u drawing EUSTs to eat ur bugs or do you just admire them. Always love a study. Guess they don’t like cedar shavings.
    Where are you located, and what size is the opening? Have u gotten other visitors and how long have boxes been up?❤👍🏽

    1. We’ve always loved birds, but when we adopted an abandoned baby starling many years ago, we were enamored with the personality and enjoy having them around the yard. They help keep the insect population at bay for our garden as well. The openings are 2″ diameter, and the boxes went up last October by coincidence to be ready for the summer; we never ever thought that starlings would nest there during the winter, as we’ve never seen them during the season (until now). Being able to recognize behaviors, their calls, etc., is a joy. Plus, so many people do not like starlings and actively kill them, so this is our attempt to rebalance the equation 😉

    2. I’ve recently read that cedar shavings aren’t good, even though they’re sold in pet stores:

      Cedar contains resins and phenols (volatile compounds found in softwoods) which have been known to cause respiratory problems, skin irritation or allergic reactions in some birds. The main irritant in cedar is plicatic acid, which is known to cause respiratory and allergic reactions (asthma) in some humans and small animals.

      http://www.starlingtalk.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=14705&p=158091&hilit=cedar+shavings#p158091

      Probably will avoid using them in the future as a result.

  2. 1) Hm! I agree w/ Annette: they don’t seem to like cedar shavings. (Makes sense: pretty pungent; wouldn’t like to sleep with my face surrounded by cedar shavings myself.) Try out some more “neutral” shavings — e.g. guinea pig bedding?

    2) If you have a spare (or can source an inexpensive one) Voyager spaceship — perhaps hang it from, or near, the Delta quadrant box?

    –GG

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