Another day, another bluebird trail for Mr. Alfred Larson. Yesterday Wild Lens accompanied the Bluebird Man on yet other bluebird trail in southwest Idaho. Al has several trails, but the two big ones we’ll be documenting for our film Bluebird Man are in the Owyhee Mountains and Prairie, Idaho. Yesterday we visited the Prairie trail, where Al has had up to 155 nest boxes. Prairie is a remote “town” located in a beautiful valley along the south fork of the Boise River between Arrowrock and Anderson Ranch Reservoirs. What a gorgeous area, and we had a great day of filming.

A bluebird box along the Prairie Trail.  Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

A bluebird box along the Prairie Trail. Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

The Prairie Trail is different from the Owyhee’s in that we find Western and Mountain Bluebirds in the same location. Roughly 30% of Al’s nest boxes in Prairie are occupied by Western Bluebirds. At one Western Bluebird box, we noticed some interesting interaction between the Tree Swallows and bluebirds. We trapped a female Western Bluebird in her box (she was brooding 4 young chicks), and while Al was placing a numbered leg band on her, a pair of Tree Swallows swooped down and tried to claim the box as their own. What a pair of aggressive birds these were!

A Tree Swallow swooping in to claim a bluebird box.  Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

A Tree Swallow swooping in to claim a bluebird box. Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

A Tree Swallow at a bluebird nest with chicks inside!  Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

A Tree Swallow at a nest box with bluebird chicks inside! Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

However, the male bluebird would have none of it. On two separate occasions he flew in and literally tackled the smaller swallow to the ground right in front of the nest box! After two passes, and after we placed the female back in the box, the Tree Swallows finally relented on gave up on taking over the box. High competition for nest sites indeed!

A female Mountain Bluebird defending her nest box.  Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

A female Mountain Bluebird defending her nest box. Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

Throughout the day we managed to trap 6 different female bluebirds in their boxes. Two of them already had numbered leg bands on them (stay tuned for more information on these individuals), but 4 did not. Being able to see these female birds in the hand was fantastic, and we hope they continue to have a successful breeding season.

The brood patch of a female bluebird.  Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

The brood patch of a female bluebird. Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

Adult female bluebird in the hand.  Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

Adult female bluebird in the hand. Photograph by Neil Paprocki.

We will have another update on this trip soon as too many exciting things happened for just one blog post!

 






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