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NestWatch eNewsletter - August 2011

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NestWatch eNewsletter

August 2011

Time to enter your data

While much of this year's nesting activities have concluded, the work of the NestWatcher still isn't finished. Many of you have spent the summer diligently recording your nest observations in notebooks and on paper datasheets and now is the time to transfer this information into the NestWatch database. If you are unsure about how to do this, please check out our data entry instructions and tutorial video. There have been nearly 4,500 nesting attempts by 84 species entered so far in 2011, and NestWatchers have counted approximately 20,100 eggs and 14,000 fledglings. These totals represent half of the typical amount of data submitted to NestWatch each year, so we know that there is much more data not yet entered. Keep up the good work, and don't hesitate to send us your questions if you are having difficulties entering your data!

Ovenbird, courtesy USFWS

Fledgling bird survival   



Mortality of young birds is particularly high after they leave their nests and while they are still developing flying and food gathering skills. Recent research from The Ohio State University helps shed light on what factors improve the likelihood that fledgling birds will survive. In this study, habitat use of 51 Ovenbird and 60 Worm-eating Warbler fledglings was monitored using radio telemetry. Overall, about 33% of these young woodland birds did not survive during a 50-day period after they left their nests and most of these mortalities were the consequence of predation. Birds that spent more time in dense vegetation had a higher probability of survival.  These results suggest that survival rates of some fledgling birds may be improved by properly managing habitat. Where dense deer populations have reduced the amount of forest understory vegetation, management practices that increase shrub and sapling densities may be necessary.  In your own backyard, please consider leaving areas unmowed and planting native shrubs to provide protection for young birds.



Vitz, A.C. and A.D. Rodewald. 2011. Influence of condition and habitat use on survival of post-fledgling songbirds. The Condor 113(2):400-411.

Thank you for your participation in NestWatch to help science and the birds!




Jason Martin
NestWatch and NestCams project leader
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab's website at http://www.birds.cornell.edu.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850
Questions or Comments?

Call us toll-free at (800) 843-BIRD (2473)

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Ted Reece Schroeder shared this great image of Barn Owls with us on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Facebook page.

The NestCams season is quickly coming to a close. The Barn Owl nestlings fledged on July 26, but the camera will remain turned on to capture any periodic visits to the nest box in the coming months. The Chimney Swifts also have fledged but continue to roost in the tower along with the adult swifts. Be on the lookout for some exciting changes to the NestCams website in the near future!

Monthly Winner

At the beginning of each month, NestWatch randomly selects one participant to receive a copy of the NestWatch Common Nesting Birds of North America poster. This month's lucky winner is Robert Wilson. Congratulations, Robert!  

There are lots of ways to stay in touch...

• Share your photos, stories, and videos with others. Join us on Facebook—it's free, fun, and easy! You can join our NestWatch and NestCams Facebook pages.   

• Need answers quickly regarding breeding biology or data entry? Visit our NestWatch forums page.  

 Add your images to the NestWatch suite of photos by joining the NestWatch Flickr group.  

 Stay in touch with NestWatch news and events. Follow our tweets on Twitter for NestWatch and NestCams.

NestWatch is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy nature, and contribute data to science.

Pledge your NestWatch support by making a donation.

Dr. Jungle's Animal Speak

Dr. Jungle's Animal Speak

Class Pet Showcase: Guinea Pig

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 12:13 PM PDT

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are popular pets because they pack lots of personality into a small package. They love attention, and their sounds and actions are quite entertaining! These qualities have led many teachers to consider a guinea pig as a classroom pet.

If you're thinking about getting a guinea pig for your classroom, it's important to realize that they are high-maintenance animals. They can't be left in a small cage day in and day out. They need plenty of space to run around and lots of human interaction every single day. They're also notoriously messy, so you'll need to set aside time each day for cleaning up after them. If a child in your class turns out to be allergic to guinea pigs, you may have to make special accommodations or remove the guinea pig from the classroom. Even so, for many teachers, the benefits of a guinea pig as a class pet far exceed the disadvantages.

Children love guinea pigs because they are so active and fun-loving. However, guinea pigs are more appropriate for older children than younger ones. Small children may be too rough with them or accidentally drop and injure them. These creatures are best suited to children aged 10 and up, but they can work for younger age groups with close adult supervision.

Having a guinea pig in the classroom provides lots of educational opportunities. It's great for teaching kids about responsibility, as you can assign a different child to clean the cage or feed the pet each day. And since a guinea pig's favorite meal consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, it's great for encouraging healthy eating. Special education teachers have also found that children with autism or other special needs can benefit greatly from interacting with guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs need a large cage with a solid floor. They also need a thick layer of bedding, which may consist of aspen shavings or manufactured bedding. Their diet should consist primarily of fresh timothy, but they also need a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Toys should be provided to keep them busy during class. Wooden bird toys and cat balls with bells in them are good choices. The cage should be thoroughly cleaned every day.

For a dedicated, animal-loving teacher, a guinea pig can be a fabulous class pet. For your care and attention, you will be rewarded with ample learning opportunities and lots of smiles from your students. The most important things to remember are to provide daily floor time for the guinea pig, keep the cage clean, and provide for its care on the weekends (either by taking it home or allowing students to keep it over the weekend). And don't forget the fresh fruits and veggies!