Nest and Habitat Box Update

Nest and Habitat Box Update

In the spring of 2022, Aldershot High School students built nest and habitat boxes and donated them to HCA. The majority of these went to Valens Lake, and the rest going to Christie Lake.


Bird Boxes

Of the 20 bird boxes the students built, HCA installed half of them at Valens Lake in April 2022. This timing was to ensure they were up and ready before the birds arrived looking for a place to nest.  This brought the total bird houses to up to 45, up from 40, as five were old, rotten, and needed replacing. Valens Lake plans to install the remaining 10 bird boxes in the spring of 2023. Five will replace old houses, and the other five will be totally new and bring their total bird houses to 50.

From staff observations, all of the bird boxes were successful! It took a little longer for the new boxes to become occupied, but once the birds found them, they were quite happy. The boxes are close to the lake so there is a lot of food available for the birds, even early in the season, so the birds seem happy to take up residence.

The main species that use the boxes at Valens Lake are Tree Swallows, Blue Birds, House Wrens, and the odd Chickadee if we’re lucky. Since Valens Lake began installing bird boxes a few years ago, staff have observed a noticeable difference in the amount of Tree Swallows flying around, as well as a good amount of Blue Birds hanging around for most of the year.

Assistant Superintendent at Valens Lake, Evan McKnight said, “Tree Swallows are probably my favourite bird now because of doing this monitoring. It has given me a great appreciation for what they do, and their amazing flying skills; they are so agile! They will also swoop down at your head when you are checking their nesting boxes, which is kind of cool.”

Valens Lake has seen almost all of their bird boxes being used for nesting. Each year, staff see about four successful hatchlings per box, which totals approximately 180 birds a year, helping contribute to bird populations in the area.


Turtle Nest Protectors

Staff were able to put out four turtle nest protectors on spots where turtles were found to be nesting. Unfortunately, some of the areas the turtles chose to nest were not ideal to put protectors out, as they would’ve been a tripping hazard to the public. To try and help the turtles, staff got inventive and placed garbage cans near the nests, helping to mask the smell of the nests, which predators can smell and dig up. This proved fairly successful, with roughly 11 hatchlings.

Staff on site also reported lower road mortality than previous years, which they attribute to two reasons: 1) the turtles hatched on rainy weekdays when there was less traffic in the area; and 2) Valens Lake added a line of gravel between the road and the lake where turtles chose to nest instead of high traffic areas. Turtles were spotted nesting here, and staff plan to extend this area to provide more habitat.

This was a very successful year and staff are hoping to get more protectors to put out this year.

Bat Boxes

Due to timing constraints we weren’t able to get the bat boxes put up in time for their season, but are hoping to get them up this winter.


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