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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Bird is the word

<ir="ltr">As you walk around campus this week, you may notice some short white tubes on posts in various places.  These are artificial cavities, nest boxes for birds that would typically rear their young in tree holes.  This breeding season, if you see a baby bird out of its nest, don’t try to rescue it yourself.  Instead, move it away from where someone might step on it, but still close to where you found it.  Touching a chick will not scare away the parents. The parents have a much better chance of helping it than you do, so leave it where they can find it.

A few of the birds you might see around the boxes are bluebirds, chickadees, and house sparrows, among others.  Eastern bluebirds can often be found sitting on posts and low branches, or perched on top of the box they chose to nest in.  They’ll drop to the ground and fly back up to their perch, hunting the bugs they eat.  Bluebirds can rear up to two batches of chicks during their summer breeding season.

Chickadees stay in Minnesota all year round, and are seed-eaters.  They can cache the seeds they gather and remember each location during the winter when food is scarce.  They have a call so distinctive they were named after it: a shrill chick-a-dee-dee-dee.  They too will nest in artificial cavities, and line their snug nests with moss and fur.

House sparrows are the birds you may see the most around campus.  They thrive around people, eating crumbs and leftovers and nesting in the many cavities that humans create by our presence.  If you see tiny twigs poking out from a gutter, a light socket, a rafter, or any other bird-sized space, you can bet that it’s a house sparrow nest.

I hope that seeing birds in and around the nest boxes will encourage you to look a little closer, and see the connections we have, even on campus, to the wildlife living in the Arb.  If you love birds, and want to see more of them, join the Cole Student Naturalists for our annual Spring Bird Count, on May 14th at 6am.  It may seem like an early morning, but it’s the best time to get the most out of the dawn chorus.

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