It isn't just the Purple Martins being studied for breeding success as this particular location has a number of Tree Swallow nest boxes installed around a large meadow. And sometimes unexpected species make use of the provided boxes. The location is a hidden gem and I was able to learn about three species of birds nesting here and how to determine who was who based on the nests themselves.
Before getting started, team leader, Terry Shaw, instructed survey members Deanna and Gillian to record numbers of eggs in each numbered box, any hatchlings and the date. Over the course of the season, this data is collected each time a survey is done and at the end of the season will be analyzed to determine nesting success based on how many total eggs were laid, how many hatched, and how many birds actually fledged. The data collected for Purple Martins is noted here http://menunkatuck.org/conservation/purple-martin-nest-houses/ and several Tree Swallow nest box sites including the Guilford location is noted here http://menunkatuck.org/conservation/tree-swallow-nest-boxes/
All are cavity nesters and take advantage of the supplied boxes. But, when opening those boxes for the first time and seeing a nest carefully constructed inside, how do you tell which species it is if no adult is present?
Below are three nests - can you tell who is who? Click the photos to enlarge them.