music; ambience: bird song
“How exciting. We have, the top of this beautiful Carolina Chickadee nest on a foundation of moss at the top is lined with fine hair or fur. And underneath are two chickadee eggs.”
Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Finding nest eggs can be a rewarding discovery for any bird enthusiast. All the more so for Joni James, a participant in Cornell’s NestWatch program. Each year, she welcomes a variety of birds to her nest boxes, which she checks often for the appearance of eggs.
“So we have eggs. In box number seven. Great.”
Cornell’s laboratory of ornithology uses data collected by NestWatch participants to gauge changes in bird populations and the impact predators have in different regions of the country. And just as the discovery of eggs can be an uplifting experience, the work of a predator can lead to more solemn observations days later.
Going out to check box number seven. This is the box that had the Carolina Chickadees, they had three eggs in a nest. I’m a little apprehensive. I see nesting material protruding from the entrance hole of the box. And I’m afraid that’s not a good sign.
Carolina Chickadees sometimes weave a blanket of fur or hair that covers their nest. Its purpose may be to conceal the eggs from predators like raccoons and snakes.
Unfortunately, all three eggs are gone. The flap of fine fur or hair that they had to supposedly protect the nest from possible predators evidently didn’t work. For the eggs are gone.
Nestwatch enables ornithologists to understand wide-ranging trends that would be difficult to study without the participation of hundreds of citizen scientists like Joni James. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.