February 9, 2010
LIMA ‚?? Mark Mohr trudged through several inches of fresh snow. Carefully, he climbed the rungs of the ladder. Gingerly, he opened the side of the box mounted to the side of the tree several feet off the ground.
‚??This one‚??s full of leaves,‚?Ě Mohr called from atop the ladder. ‚??Squirrels have been here.‚?Ě
Mohr, a naturalist for the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District, was joined by a pair of his colleagues for the small trek through the woods near the park district‚??s office. The mission ‚?? cleaning and monitoring wildlife nest boxes.
‚??The park district has screech owl nest boxes, American kestrel nest boxes and wood duck nest boxes up in several of our parks,‚?Ě Mohr said. ‚??Every year in January or February we go out and clean the boxes out, take an inventory of the repairs that need to be made and just get the boxes in good condition for the birds because they‚??ll start nesting in March and April.‚?Ě
The purpose of the boxes is to give the cavity-nesting birds a better shot at survival, Mohr said. Today in northwest Ohio there is 4 percent forest cover compared to 100 percent forest cover 200 years ago, he said.
‚??Here at McLean Teddy Bear Park we found several squirrel nests and one nest that clearly had the eastern screech owl using it because it had owl pellets in it,‚?Ě Mohr said.
The nest box program has been in place for 20 years with more than three dozen boxes currently in place. The program has yielded some surprising tidbits through the years, Mohr said.
‚??The most interesting thing I‚??ve discovered from checking these nest boxes is that the eastern screech owl eats our state bird the cardinal,‚?Ě Mohr said. ‚??Cardinals feed at dawn and dusk at bird feeders and that is exactly when the screech owl is out here hunting for food.‚?Ě