After several weeks of monitoring my nest boxes I finally got to see some chick action. It definitely made hiking through the poison oak and spiney milk thistles worth it.
As I approached my nest box I knew there was a possibility that the chicks had hatched so I carefully unhinged the opening. I opened the door of the nest box and came face to face with the Oak TItmouse parent who stared at me for about two seconds and then darted straight out of there.
I then noticed the tiny little creatures that were sitting in the nest. Naked and blind and just overall very vulnerable-looking. I quickly counted the number of chicks and closed box.
That day was the last day that I’d open the box with the chicks still in it. Opening it from there forward might scare the chicks and affect their fledging success. So now when I monitor that box I just get close enough to listen if there’s any chirping going on, But my chicks should be fledging this week!
After the chicks have fledged I am responsible for collecting the nest so it can be examined by one of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve’s researchers for parasites.
The nestbox monitoring process was definitely fun. It was very interesting to see how the nesting process occurred throughout the last couple of months. I remember my first day I was completely terrified at the thought of a mouse jumping out at me when I opened the box. Luckily, that only occurred once and the mouse didn’t even land on me.
I hope that I am still in the area next year because I would love to volunteer for nestbox monitoring again!