This afternoon, I joined two other volunteers (Cliff and Tom) at Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area to be trained on how to check and maintain about 15 bluebird boxes located on the 301 acre farm. We were trained by Kim Hosen, Director of the Prince William Conservation Alliance and Wayne, who maintained the boxes last year. The bluebird boxes need to be checked once a week for a number of reasons to include removing old nests (bluebirds can raise three broods in a season), nests of other birds using the bluebird boxes, checking for eggs and hatchlings, monitoring fledglings, and checking to see if any predators like snakes, ants, etc. have attacked the nest and the eggs or young birds.
Four of the boxes we checked had 3 to 5 eggs, and one nest had newly hatched bluebirds that we estimated were about 5-7 days old. What we observed at each nest box was recorded in a book that is maintained during the season (April – August).
Spring has definitely arrived in northern Virginia as evidenced by the new bluebird nests and eggs, flowers, and green growth everywhere. Of course, I shot some photos in between the training; however, I traveled light today (one camera body and all purpose lens (28-300mm VR)–no tripod) since the primary purpose was training. When it is my turn to check the boxes, I will be carrying more gear and be doing some serious photography, so stand by for more photos. The schedule calls for me to check the boxes once in May, June, July, and August.
Some photos from today follow. The first (and one above) are wild azalea flowers and blooms.
Below, shot with my iPhone, are the five eggs we saw in one of the nests. I had to hold my iPhone in the box above the nest to get this shot, so it is not very good, but you can see the bright blue color of the eggs.
I may be going back to the farm tomorrow (with more gear). Regardless, I am planning to be there a lot this spring, summer, fall and next winter. What a wonderful place to experience and capture some of nature’s beauty.