New Boxes, New Truck, New Field Season, More Swallows!

Marisol and I have arrived safely back to Valle Nuevo and are more than ready for our second field season here.  It’s great to be amongst old faces and friends again.

Thank you to all of our supporters, including the Mike Madders Foundation, Fundacion Propagas, The Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO), the Athena Grant, the Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University, and the Neotropical Bird Club – without all of you, we wouldn’t be here (again!).

Thanks to the National Science Foundations PIRE support and Santo Domingo’s Europcar, we have resolved the transportation stresses of the prior year with a high-clearance, manual, diesel, 4×4 Mazda pickup truck that will be able to get our field crew and gear to more remote places even during the coldest, rainiest days!

Thanks to the Guzman family, we have again secured warm and comfortable lodging at Villa Pajon.

Thanks to the incredible amount of hard work and time volunteered by Tim Salzman, materials donated by Valiente Fernandez, transportation provided by the Batista Family, and support from our local friends, we are monitoring 100 new boxes this field season.  We were nervous as to how the swallows would take to them, but some great news came today when we found over 50% of them being actively used at one of our sites.  The two-week trip in February was an intense amount of sweat and manual labor, but we are now seeing spectacular results come to fruition.  Even more importantly, this means that this swallow can adapt.  They can quickly, in this case less than two full months, recognize and adjust to new artificial nest boxes.  These boxes are slightly smaller in volume with larger roofs to shed and block harsh rains.  They are mounted to metal posts at head-height, allowing for us to monitor them without the use of a ladder.  Furthermore, the posts should act as a predator guard against the tree-climbing invasive Black and Norwegian Rats that depredated 40% of our Golden Swallow population in 2012.

Things are looking good!  We can’t wait to have our Dominican interns, Hodali and Luci, join us in the near future.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Justin and Marisol

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American Kestrel perched near cabin in Villa Pajon

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Ah, the new Mazda truck…..

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There’s always some act of nature that blocks our way across this river….

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Oh yes, that’s lichen pouring out of one of our new boxes

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The inside shot…

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Mourning dew on the leaves outside our cabin

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Apple blossoms….signs of good things to come!

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Yes sir, that’s a brand new box with a brand new nest.  We’re lovin’ it!

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These swallows are out of control!

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Everybody needs a nap at this altitude

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