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Flatwoods Park Bluebird Trail Report 4-5-2021

I am excited to tell you that TAS members Steve Rickert and Joni Hartzler have become bluebird monitors at two County Parks that previously had trails that fallen into disrepair. Beginning today, I will report their numbers weekly, along with sending my Flatwoods Report.

Steve volunteered to take over the bluebird trail at Balm Boyette Preserve in Wimauma, and with the help of volunteers, rebuilt and relocated 14 boxes. Last week he had tufted titmice occupying 3 boxes with a total of 13 eggs.

Joni, with the help of her husband Gary Krotz, took over the trail at Lake Park on North Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz. They added predator guards to all 20 boxes, did a lot of other repairs, and have 14 boxes with nests, with 27 eggs (20 BB, 6 CC, 1 CW, and 20 chicks (14 BB, 6 CC).

In addition to Flatwoods Park, I also monitor the 3 box trail at John B. Sargeant Park, in Thonotosassa, in N.E Hillsborough Co. and have one box with 5 bluebird eggs. So with Flatwoods Park bluebird trail, that makes four county parks that have TAS monitors for their bluebird trails. This is very good news for the bluebirds and other native birds of Hillsborough County, Florida!

The birds on the Flatwoods Park Bluebird Trail have been very busy this past week, and we have a total of 30 nests (21 BB, 6 CC, 3TM), with 45 eggs (35 BB, 5 CC, 5 TM), and 30 chicks (20 CC, 10 TM). See attached spreadsheet for details. I've included several pictures of the CC and TM chicks and you will notice that they look very similar. That is because CC and TM are cousins in the bird world. That is why their chicks have the same blue coloring while they are getting their feathers, much like the BB chicks. It's not until the chicks are getting ready to fledge, like the CC chicks in box F30, that they begin to look like the adult birds. I've also included a photo that Steve Rickert sent me of a TM sitting on her eggs at Balm Boyette Park.

We saw bluebirds everywhere today, especially sitting on top of boxes. We also saw mourning and ground doves, red-shouldered hawks, a great egret, a great blue heron, red-bellied woodpeckers, wood ducks, black and turkey vultures, a black and white warbler, palm warblers, a blue gray gnatcatcher, a cardinal and a Carolina wren. We also saw a rabbit.

Steve Rickert sent me a photo of a passion-flower (Passiflora incarnata), which is the host plant for the zebra longwing, and gulf fritillary butterflies. Thistles are beginning to bloom all over the place and I've included a photo of a thistle (Cirsium horridulum) with a gulf fritillary butterfly feeding on it.


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