Aside from doing shorebird surveys at the Elkhorn Slough I have also been volunteering with their long-term nest box monitoring!
I was able to get a couple of really cool woodlots to monitor this season. My favorite part about these woodlots is that I’m able to go off trail—this is very exciting because it allows for me to see and hear lots of different birds that I normally wouldn’t get to experience from the trails.
The two species of birds that we are hoping to see utilize the nest boxes are the Chestnut-Backed Chickadee and the Oak Titmouse. The Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a super tiny cute bird that sounds like it’s laughing all the time! It’s a year round resident along the coast. The Oak Titmouse is a squeaky-sounding little bird with a cool little tufted crest.
So far I’ve had two boxes that appear like they are going to be used for nesting by birds. But aside from the birds I have also been getting some other visitors who are also trying to make their homes in the nest boxes. Deer mice have been persistently trying to make their nests in the boxes. When I’m surveying the boxes and open them up I always make sure to stand to the side in case a mouse decides to jump out. So far only one mouse has actually jumped straight out and almost on to me. For the most part, when I open the boxes and there are mice in there they try to be very still. They must think that if they don’t move around I won’t be able to see them.
Since the boxes are meant for the birds, I usually try to get the mice to leave. This can be done by simply leaving the box open because they don’t want to be in the cold.
I hope these mice are able to find their own little natural crevices to nest in so the birds can have plenty of boxes to comfortably nest in. However, if there are mice with babies we will not disturb them as they are also native species.