The Meadowlark Times The Official Newsletter of The Front Range Birding Company
Spring 2007


FRBC: A Nature Center For You and Your Family

in this issue
  • Spring Tips: Front Range Nest Box Q & A
  • Front Range Profiles: Those Fabulous Ospreys'

  • Spring Tips: Front Range Nest Box Q & A

    by Sara Nelson

    Q. What does the entrance hole size mean?

    A. The size of the entrance hold determines what birds will be able to use any nest box. Obviously, if a hole is too small for a bird to fit, they won't be able to use it. Birds don't know what kind of box you want them to use, they just see if the box is in a location they like and if they fit into the entrance hole. By making boxes with different size holes, we encourage the species we want, and limit other undesirable species.

    Q. How should I mount my nest box?

    A. The best method for songbirds is to pole mount the box. A pole can easily be fitted with a predator guard to prevent raccoons and snakes from getting in the box. A good method is to use an 8-foot length of inch (inside diameter) galvanized pipe. Sink it two feet into the ground and mount the bottom of the box at eye level, or about 4-5 feet off the ground. Boxes can be mounted on a fence post or tree, but this will leave the box very vulnerable to predators.

    Q. Where should I place the nest box?

    A. Different species have different habitat preferences. If you regularly see them around your home, it is probably a suitable habitat for nesting. Try to place the opening of any box out of the prevailing winds. A landing perch within 100 feet gives fledglings a safe place to aim for the first time they leave the box. And of course, try to place it somewhere you can watch it!

    Q. Should my nest box have a perch?

    A. No. Our native local species do not need perches to use a box. Perches actually allow the non-native, more aggressive species easier access to the box. We want to encourage the nesting of native species because they are the ones who have been harmed the most from the loss of habitat.

    Q. When should I put the nest box up?

    A. It's never to early, and never too late! During the winter boxes will be used as shelter from cold and snow. Birds will also spend the winter looking for good nest sites and will be ready to nest as soon as spring arrives. If a box is not used during the spring, it may still be used later in the summer. Many females will raise multiple broods during the year.

    Q. Can I look inside the box while birds are using it?

    A. You can if you are careful and respectful of the birds. Open the box quietly and carefully. If the female is inside, close it and leave quickly. An incubating female will more readily abandon the nest if she is disturbed. It can be fun (and educational!) to record information about your box, such as what species use it, how many eggs they lay, and how many young are raised.

    Q. Why isn't anyone using my nest box?

    A. Sometimes a box will be used immediately, other times it will go for years without being used. Birds will need to accept the box as a natural part of their habitat before they will use it. Make sure there aren't any obvious reasons why they aren't using it, i.e. rain turned it into a swimming pool, or it is right next to a raccoon den. Sometimes it just takes some patience.

    Front Range Profiles: Those Fabulous Ospreys'
    Sara & Osprey

    by Sara Nelson

    Ospreys are a large hawk found in Colorado and throughout most of the country. They are a highly specialized hawk, eating primarily fish. Obviously, this requires they live nearby a larger-sized body of water. During the breeding season, they nest in trees and other large structures, such as cacti, rock towers, and telephone poles. They are also increasingly nesting on platforms we erect specifically for their use. Like many other species, they have suffered from our destruction of their habitat, and these platforms can provide them a safe location to build nests. Osprey juveniles also imprint on the area in which they grow up, and will return to this location when it is time for them to raise young.

    While I was an intern at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland, I participated in an osprey "hacking" program. This involved removing juveniles from their nest in the wild, bringing them to the refuge, and raising them in a hacking tower. If the juveniles would successfully imprint on the location, they would later return as adults.

    The refuge had several large man-made lakes, and while not recently used as a nesting location for osprey, it would be an excellent habitat for them. The program had been on going for several years, and that year was the first in which osprey returned and made their own nest.

    For our batch of juveniles we traveled to the nearby Patuxent River and with the assistance of other U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel, removed four juveniles of approximately the same age from four different nests. This location had quite a few artificial nesting platforms placed along a stretch of the river, and was used by many breeding pairs. The juveniles were placed in dog carriers and brought back to the refuge where they were examined by the refuge veterinarian and fitted with colored leg bands to identify them. We then hauled them up into a forty foot enclosed hacking tower, which would be their home for several weeks. They were fed raw meat several times a day, and spent their days sleeping, watching their surroundings, and stretching their developing wings.

    We had a video camera installed in the tower that allowed refuge visitors to watch them from the visitor center. When they were old enough, the front wall was lowered to allow them to leave. Each one left when he or she was ready, and two of them left the refuge immediately, while the other two hung around for a few days. After that, they would have headed to South America, where they would spend several years, and hopefully return to the refuge as an adult to breed.

    Man-made nesting platforms are an excellent way for humans to provided suitable habitat for ospreys. While erecting the large platforms are generally beyond the scope of most of us, many refuges and private businesses have found this is a great way to help this interesting and unique species. XCEL Energy has a nesting platform with a camera at their King facility in Minnesota, and you can view it online at birdcam.xcelenergy.com.

    You have an excellent chance of spotting one of the many ospreys that make Chatfield State Park their summer home. For any questions about ospreys or other Front Range species, feel free to stop by the store.


    Tom & His Hives

    Pure raw local honey is now available in the store. This honey is from our friend Jerry Webb. His hives are nearby as well.

    All of our honey is local, pure, and raw. Great tasting and even better for your health.




    The Front Range Birding Company celebrates International Migratory Bird Day on May 5, 2007. A full day of fun and events will take place at the Jefferson Village/Kohl's Shopping Center from 10AM till 5PM. The raptor conservation group HawkQuest will be a featured attraction from 11AM to 1PM as they present a live Golden Eagle, Great Horned Owl, American Kestrel Falcon and Harris Hawk for display.

    Their expert trainers will actually fly a Harris Hawk outdoors for all to see at 12 Noon!

    At 2PM the 3nd annual "Dove Race For Youth" will take place as we release over 100 white homing pigeons for local charities. These doves will "race" back to their home lofts in Lakewood, CO. Valuable prizes will be given to the sponsors of the winning birds. Individuals can sponsor a dove for a small contribution to either The Jason Dahl Scholarship Foundation or The Greater Littleton Youth Initiative (GLYI.)

    The 1st place dove sponsor will win a $500 Vortex Spotting Scope!

    All during the day local artists and craftsmen will have their wares available at an outdoor crafts fair. Local restaurants are discounting many food items. In addition, local park rangers, division of wildlife officials, and the Audubon Society of Greater Denver will man educational booths. Together they will offer interesting and intriguing nature programs for both adults and children to enjoy. Great gifts ideas abound for Mothers and Father's Day.

    Schedule of Events

    10AM - 5PM Arts and Crafts Fair

    11AM - 1PM HawkQuest!

    12 NOON Live flight of Harris Hawk

    10AM - 2PM Jason Dahl Fund Silent Auction

    2PM Dove Race for Youth

    3PM- 6PM Colorado wine tasting

    Quick Links...

    Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    North American Bluebird Society

    Audubon Society of Greater Denver

    The Plains Conservation Center

    Audubon Colorado

    Colorado Field Ornithologist

    Denver field Ornithologist

    The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory

    Red Rocks Park

    SILENT AUCTION ITEMS FOR OPEN HOUSE: Bid on a Rockies suite of 13 catered seats at 1st base! Bid on a simulator experience in state of the art full motion United Airlines simulator for 4 people!

    Colorado Rockies


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