Below are the current reports for the Bluebird Trails in four county parks monitored by Tampa Audubon Society:
Balm Boyette has one nest with 5 TM chicks, and 12 TM fledglings.
Lake Park has 3 boxes with the second nestings, for a total of 9 active boxes. They have 13 eggs (11 BB, 2 CW), 14 chicks (9 BB, 5 CW), 36 fledglings (24 BB, 12 CC).
Sargeant's Park has 5 BB fledglings.
At Flatwoods Park, all of the TM and CC have fledged, and since they usually have one brood per year, all of the remaining birds nesting are bluebirds. So Flatwoods has 26 nests, 37 eggs, 53 chicks, with 48 fledglings (13 BB, 23 CC, 12 TM). See attached spreadsheet for details.
Today started off with a bang when I stopped to check the first box and immediately detected a bad odor. Last year the bluebird chicks in this same box were eaten by a corn snake that slipped past the predator guard. So I was relieved to find that the bad odor was not coming from the box, where the chicks had already successfully fledged, but from a dead corn snake hanging inside the stove pipe predator guard, where it had gotten hung up on the mesh at the top. I was sorry the snake died, but I was glad the chicks safely fledged this year! Last year, after finding two snakes that had made it into the boxes, we spent a lot of time fortifying all the predator guards, and it was encouraging to see that it worked! This snake was entangled in the mesh, and I couldn't pull it out. So Sherry and I decided to return after we completed our monitoring, to remove the snake. When we returned, there was a turkey vulture at the bottom of the box that had already eaten off the bottom part of the snake's tail. We had to remove the box and stovepipe in order to cut the snake out of the mesh.
So after that first box, the rest went very well and we saw lots of bluebirds going and coming from the nests, bringing food to their chicks. We were especially happy to see that box F50 had 1 egg and that the mother flew from the box. I had received a call from Ranger Clint Perigard on Thursday reporting that Ranger Olivia Breazeale spotted a large pine tree limb that had fallen on F50 and crushed it. The box had an unoccupied nest in it that didn't seem to be harmed. So, my husband, John and I took one of my extra bluebird boxes to the park, and switched out the new box for the crushed one. We then transferred the nest to the new box, hoping that the bluebirds would return to the nest. So when we saw a new egg in that box today, we were very happy that we were able to replace the broken one and that the birds did not abandon the box. Thanks to Rangers Olivia and Clint for calling me right away. Flatwoods is so lucky to have rangers who are always looking out for the welfare of the park's wildlife.
In addition to the bluebirds, we saw 11 wood ducks, 2 whistling ducks, little blue and great blue herons, 3 red-shouldered hawks (one carrying a snake in its talons; it was a bad day for snakes!), 2 northern parulas, an American crow, a bobwhite quail, a wood stork, and turkey and black vultures. We also saw a gopher tortoise slowly walking along.
The wildlife have abundant food to choose from in the parks. I photographed some shiny blueberries (Vaccinium myrsinites) beginning to ripen and Steve Rickert sent a picture of a blackberry bush (Rubus spp.) with berries beginning to ripen at Balm Boyette. I also spotted a lot of little Hat Pins (Eriocaulon compressum).