Encouraging Tree Swallows & Chickadees

Encouraging Tree Swallows & Chickadees

Submitted by Peter Ward

It started in 2008, when I made an extension to my home workshop. Somehow building bird boxes brought together a trait that I inherited from my maternal grandfather, and a passion for bird watching.

With a couple of friends, John Toochin and Ken Hall, I started building boxes, using some ideas for size from an old publication by BC Provincial Museum, 1979. We targeted local birds known to nest in man-made boxes. It turned out that the main effort was as much in annual maintenance/clean-out of boxes, as in construction. I bought a branding iron, and invented a name “Cascade”, and made sure that all our boxes were labeled.

Several years later I was on the verge of retirement, and needed additional support. An enquiry one evening at a Delta Naturalists event led to several people coming forward. We soon had a fabulous team of bird box carpenters, mapping and data listers, and photographers. One of us, Jim Kneesch, had a roomy workshop in Tsawwassen, and that is where we started working.

Our team continues to be busy with new orders. For parks and golf courses we deploy Tree Swallow boxes, used sometimes by other species, e.g. Black-capped Chickadees. They love brand new boxes. For farms in Delta, we build and deploy Barn Owl boxes, frequently on poles because of the dearth of barns.

Currently, for the Delta area, we are operating about 28 Tree Swallow boxes in Boundary Bay Regional Park, 54 boxes in Kings Links Golf Course, and 16 at Beach Grove Golf Course. The success rate is high, and about 70% of our boxes produce fledged young, at an average of 4 per box. And we have many swallow/chickadee boxes on the three Vancouver City Golf Courses, and at Iona Beach Regional Park.

Please let me know if you are available to help in the fall/winter months with box cleanout, and box repair. No special skills needed!

Peter Ward prbward@gmail.com – Cascade Bird Box Team

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