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Fishin’ Hole Nature: Wolf Creek Park, Perfect Place for Nest Boxes

Fishin’ Hole Nature: Wolf Creek Park, Perfect Place for Nest Boxes

Fishin’ Hole Nature:Wolf Creek Park, Perfect Place for Nest Boxes

 

Trinity River Authority’s Wolf Creek Park in San Jacinto County. It is a beautiful park for families, RVs, boaters and bluebirds.
Bluebirds are very tolerant of people regularly checking their pine needle nests. Although they might decide to fly out and dive-bomb the checkers!

In 2014 the Piney Wood Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists received permission from the Trinity River Authority to install a few Eastern Bluebird nest boxes in Wolf Creek Park.  Nest boxes were made and installed by members of the chapter, and for 10 years those nest boxes have been doing a fine job of bringing bluebird chicks into the world.

In the last 10 years almost 140 bluebird chicks have fledged from these nest boxes.  How are they counted?  Fortunately, bluebirds are very tolerant of human interference, and the nest boxes are checked regularly from March to August.  Many things are counted, such as the number of eggs, number of hatches and number of feathered chicks ready to fledge from the nests.

Every three years people who check the bluebird nest boxes are required to take a quiz and make a grade of 100% on ethics and nest management.  If interested, they can also upload weekly nest, egg and chick data to a program run by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.  The program is called Nest Watch.  Data from over 7800 bluebird nests across North American were uploaded to Nest Watch in 2023 alone!  And over the years citizen scientists have provided nesting data for a significant number of bird species, research projects and published papers.

TRA’s Wolf Creek Park turns out to be a perfect place for nest boxes and campers!  It is a beautifully maintained park that is very family friendly, and located in the Piney Woods on the shores of Lake Livingston in San Jacinto County.  They have children’s playground equipment, volleyball, basketball, lake swimming, a boat ramp, a general store, and over 100 family camping spots.  And now they also have an abundance of bluebirds flying throughout their park!

Learn more about the incredible nature in our area by joining a chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist organization. To find a chapter close to you, or to read about the state program, go online to https://txmn.tamu.edu. Volunteer and get involved!

Bluebird eggs are usually light blue but can also be white. Females generally lay 3-5 eggs in a brood, and often have 3 broods per season.  But only about 75% of their eggs are usually viable and will hatch.
These adorable bluebird chicks are almost 2 weeks old and will leave the nest box by 3 weeks. Both parents have been feeding them non-stop with caterpillars and other insects ever since they hatched.
These nest boxes are made with double roofs to improve circulation and lessen the impact of rain. Painting them white keeps the nests cooler during our hot summers, and the “stove-pipe” baffle at the bottom prevents predators from climbing up and raiding the nest.
A juvenile bluebird is just starting to show its blue coloring. Once fledged the parents will still help feed them for a couple days.  Since bluebirds are not seed eaters, the parents will show them where to hunt for insects.
Surprisingly, there is no blue pigment in this male bluebird’s feathers. It is an optical trick. Each blue feather absorbs all wavelengths of color except blue, so only the blue wavelength is seen by the human eye.

 

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