Nest Boxes at Deer Pond Farm
Nest boxes provide cavity nesting birds, including Eastern Bluebirds, Wood Ducks, Purple Martins and American Kestrel a place to have their young. Nest boxes have positively contributed to the increase of these birds that were previously experiencing a decline. Nest boxes at Deer Pond Farm include: thirteen Eastern Bluebird boxes, six Wood Duck boxes, twenty-four Purple Martin gourds and one American Kestrel box. Our nest boxes are monitored and maintained. Deer Pond Farm is certified as a NestWatch nest monitor through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The Eastern Bluebird boxes are located in open meadow habitats and stay up year-round. They are monitored weekly during the breeding season and cleaned in late summer when breeding season is over. Nesting material used by Eastern Bluebirds consists of fine grasses and pine needles. In 2019, 35 Eastern Bluebirds fledged from our nest boxes and in 2020, 44. To learn more, visit the website of the North American Bluebird Society (http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/).
The Purple Martin artificial nesting gourds are located in an open field near a pond. Four different styles of openings, two life-sized decoys, and a calling device are utilized. These towers were put up in 2018. Gourds are set up in during the first week of April and taken down in mid-October. Dry white pine needles are placed in the gourds by staff for nesting material. Female Purple Martins will add leaves to line the nest. Although Purple Martin “scouts” have been observed in the area, a breeding colony has yet to establish itself at this site.
Purple Martins are the largest swallow species in North America. These graceful and acrobatic fliers chase and catch insects on the wing in open areas, usually near water. They are very social! Because they nest in groups and require cavities, their population is limited by suitable nesting sites such as large, decaying trees. In the eastern US, they are entirely dependent on artificial structures. These white gourds reflect the sun’s heat and protect the nestlings from predators like hawks and owls, while the baffles on the towers deter climbing snakes and raccoons. After breeding, they migrate up to 5,000 miles away to overwinter in South America. In Connecticut they are listed as a Species of Special Concern. Please treat them with respect and do not linger near the gourds. To learn more, visit the website of the Purple Martin Association (www.purplemartin.org).
The Wood Duck boxes also stay up year-round and are located on posts in ponds and near the shorelines of wetlands. The boxes are cleaned in winter when the water is frozen. Dry wood shavings are placed by staff in the boxes for nesting material. Female Wood Ducks line the nest with their own feathers. Wood Ducks have been observed at many locations in the sanctuary, but they are very skittish and tend to take cover when people are nearby. Confirmation of Wood Duck breeding was made in 2020 with observation of a fledgling, plus 17 broken eggs were cleaned out of the nearby box the following winter.
The American Kestrel box was installed on a tree near a meadow in winter of 2021. It stays up year-round and is cleaned in the winter. Dry wood shavings are placed by staff in the box for nesting material.