Made the rounds of the nest boxes along the paved portion of North Wenas Road
and in Hardy Canyon this morning. To date, 71 Western Bluebirds have fledged
from the 38 boxes along the pavement and another 55 from the 25 boxes in
Hardy Canyon. House Sparrows and House Wrens have wreaked havoc at 8 of the
nest boxes on N. Wenas Rd. Unless the bluebirds rally with second nest
efforts, this year will fall far short of last year's fledged total.
The best bluebird news I've heard came from Mary and Gus Pooler. They
maintain 18 boxes on Durr Road...it intersects the Vredenburg Bluebird Trail
where the pavement begins at the Ellensburg (north) end of the trail. As of
June 22, 50 Mountain Bluebirds had fledged from these boxes. At one box,
they discovered a nest had been destroyed and nestlings missing. On a
subsequent visit to the same box, they observed a weasel surveying the
terrain from inside the box with his head sticking out the entrance hole. My
only experience with weasels has been defending myself from accusations that
I was trying to "weasel" out of a commitment (tight spot) of one kind or
another. I'm surprised that they are able to fit through such a small hole.
I need to hone my techniques to be considered worthy of such comparisons in
At the bridge of the drive in entrance to Hardy Canyon, I found a Yellow
Warbler and two possible Gray Catbirds. One of the Catbirds was eating
berries from a bush on the east side of the bridge. On the way out, I
observed Robins in the same area. Although I only had a quick look at the
possible Catbirds, I was confident I wouldn't mistake Robins for Catbirds.
Or would I? Go ahead...I couldn't contain my laughter either.
At the Ponderosa Pine, a short search failed to turn up the Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher but a Tweeter's post indicates he was there yesterday. I did
find several Eastern Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings and loads of Vesper Sparrows.
Down by the bridge at the walk in entrance, I had a backlit view of a Lazuli
Bunting. Later towards the end of the pavement on N. Wenas Rd., I had
another Lazuli in perfect lighting. In the aspen, I scoped a flycatcher
sitting briefly on a nest...three small heads thrust up sending the parent
scurrying for snacks. There were numerous flycatchers popping up throughout
the day. Both kinds. The light ones and the dark ones.
At the far end of the boxes on N. Wenas Road, I noticed either a female or
young Brewer's Blackbird on the telephone wire above a nest box. As I
approached, it was joined by two more Brewer's who were "cacking" anxiously.
Within a few seconds, there were 30 blackbirds on the wire bombarding me with
their harsh chorus. Talk about an effective neighborhood watch system!
I'm a bit tardy with an update on the Vredenburgh Bluebird Trail. My sister
and I monitored the 132 nest boxes that begin at the end of the pavement on
North Wenas Road on Saturday, July 24.
To date, 380 bluebirds and 2 Tree Swallows have fledged from the boxes.
Forty-five nestlings remain in the 17 active boxes...there are no more viable
eggs. A freshly hatched clutch, no more than two days old, were discovered in Box
37. A hatch date of July 22 strikes me as being as late in the season as
could be expected on this trail. I am open to correction on this as I have not
done any hard research. Hopefully the parents will remain diligent with this
brood and see them through to fledgling.
In 2002, 405 bluebirds fledged on the trail and 395 was the total for last
year. The final number this year will likely fall close to these totals.
Near Box 58 we noticed dozens of sparrows flying up from the shoulder of the
road. A closer inspection revealed that roadside weeds were thickly coated
with black aphids. The scenario was repeated for a score of boxes as we
monitored up the trail. The birds I was able to bring into focus were all Vesper
The other notable distractions were a Say's Phoebe, a Black-headed Grosbeak
and a very persistent Eastern Kingbird.
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