MonitoringTrail Prognosticator

Trail Prognosticator

Suggested modifications for a Bluebird Nestbox Prognosticator, based on the Purple Martin Prognosticator (see
E.A. Zimmerman 03/09/06

DOWNLOAD Bluebird Prognosticator BETA 1.3 Version here – developed by ROGER LEE

Items in red were added on 3/9/06 and 3/10/06
I’ve suggested items as (O) as optional in order to pare down to essentials.

GOALS FOR SYSTEM – are we reinventing the wheel? I don’t think so. The goal of this tool would be to:

  1. Help monitors track their own nestbox data in real time (productivity, when they can expect eggs to hatch, when to stop checking box to prevent premature fledging, which boxes have predator problems, averages and totals, etc.) for their own use, on their own personal computers, on a regular basis. Right now I track my info in a word table, or in a notebook, which is very cumbersome.
  2. Able to print out a pre-populated sheet(s) that monitors could bring along with them to record data in field.
  3. Have the ability to generate summary data (and trends) for monitor’s own use, so they can see how they are doing, think about what it means, and act on that information.
  4. Have the ability to generate summary reports to share with state bluebird societies or other monitors (e.g., on the Bluebird_Listser). Right now I do all my number crunching manually (oh the pain and time lag).
  5. (O) maybe some day (in fantasy land?) have a program that will generate data that can be uploaded to Cornell The Bluebird Network (TBN) or other databases (by generating a .txt file or something similar that can go into an Access or Dbase file, etc.) and maybe something that can interface with a smartphone or tablet (to avoid entering data twice). At a minimum, a tool like this can help ensure we CAPTURE the info that NABS or other bluebird organizations want. You can have it on hand when entering data into the online database. A lot of times I forget some of the items, because I only enter TBN data once a year.
  6. Be available to anyone for their own use, at no cost. Downloadable off the Internet.
  7. Be easy to use and not overwhelming, with optional tracking of ‘extra’ info.


  • Trail – who monitors it, where it is located, type of habitat, etc.
  • Nestbox Info – stable info about the box, such as style, predator protection, etc.
  • Species Info – types of species using the box
  • Nesting Results – eggs, chicks, fledging, etc. (I believe most of these bases are already covered on the PUMA version, with the exception of multiple species attempts and causes of failure.)
  • Instructions – on how to use the spreadsheet, codes etc.
  • Summary statistics and graphs

Note: Too much on this “wish list” obviously. Maybe “other” info can go in comments section.


• Trail name
• Trail manager/monitor’s name
• City
• State/Province
(O) Cross streets to nearest landmarks

(O) Landowner?

HABITAT DESCRIPTION (this is from TBN) Also Primary (closest) and secondary (1/4 to 1/2 mile away?)
1 – residential urban/suburban
2 – residential/rural
3 – agricultural field
4 – meadow/grassland
5 – park/school/field
6 – forest/woodland
7- forest edge
8 – golf course
9 – cemetery
A – swamp/wetland
B – desert scrub
C – industrial/commercial
D – fresh water
E – salt water
F – other – specify in comments

TX bluebird society uses these habitat types:

  • Forest (large trees with crowns touching, forming an overhead canopy with branches
  • Woodland (small trees and shrubs, frequently dense, without overhead canopy)
  • Parkland (large trees widely spaced)
  • Open (smaller trees and shrubs, or none)
  • Commercial (little or no green space)

Combined with more information about habitat site: urban yard, rural yard, cemetery, city/state park, farmland, golf course, ranchland, mesquite grassland, rural roadside, urban roadside, ashe juniper (cedar) acreage.


Track box info on a separate spreadsheet, since it doesn’t change and is not something the monitor looks at each week, and then link it through Box ID to spreadsheet that tracks nesting info

  • Total number of boxes on trail
    • Number of boxes that are paired
      • Typical distance (in feet) between paired boxes

    BOX ID (whatever system monitor uses)

    LOCATION: Latitude and Longitude and elevation – decimal geographic coordinates. Tell them they can get it at (provide links). The precise location should be linked to the nestbox ID.

    Box descriptions include entrance hole size, shape, orientation, cavity size, type, mount, guard, and height, and lat and long.

    BOX STYLE (put all lists in alpha order?):
    PETE – Peterson box
    NABS – standard rectangular box
    SLOT – box with slot opening
    PVC – PVC/Gilbertson box
    NG – Natural Gourd
    PG – Plastic Gourd
    NCAV – Natural Cavity
    OTHR – Other

    SLANT – tilted to shed rain
    FLAT – parallel to ground

    TOP – opens from top (roof)
    SID – opens from side
    FRT – opens from front
    BOT – opens from bottom

    1 1/8
    1 3/8
    1 9/16
    1.375″ x 2.250″
    1 ¾

    R – Round
    O – Oval
    S – Slot
    X – Other (square, mouse hole, etc.)

    N, NE, NW, E, W, SE, SW, S

    Y or N

    (O)CAVITY SIZE – finished floor dimensions, in inches (this is tough, there are so many variations! Some are uncommon) Maybe have two columns – one that is 3, 4, 5 or 6, and the second that offers the other options (4, 4.25, 4.5 etc.)? * means fairly common size.
    *3” diameter
    3.5” diameter
    *4” diameter
    3 3/8×3 3/4
    4.5 x 6

    THE FOLLOWING INFO IS TRACKED BY THE BIRDHOUSE NETWORK, BUT SEEMS LIKE A LOT…. Other information (maybe put in comments section?)

    Year put in service? Year replaced? Relocation info? Box needs attention (e.g., repair or replacement)?

    FENC – fence post
    ELEC – Electrical conduit
    UTIL – utility or phone pole
    TREE –tree
    MPOLE – metal pole (smooth metal or T post)
    WPOLE – wood pole
    OTHR – other, specify in comments

    PREDATOR PROTECTION: Y or N and/or details
    (O)NONE – no guard
    NOEL – Noel Guard over entrance hole
    PIPE – Stove pipe
    PVCB – PVC baffle
    CONE – conical guard
    GRSP – greased pole/pipe
    WAXP – waxed pole/pipe
    WOOD – 2×4” wood block over entrance hole
    OTHR – other, specify in comments

    HEIGHT above ground in feet (from entrance hole to ground)

    HTPR – Heat protection
    HTSH – Heat shield
    PHTS – Partial heat shield (e.g. extra roof)
    SOSC – Solarscreen
    SHAD – Shade
    OTHR – other

    SPECIES – Perhaps start by limiting the system to species that will nest in a bluebird box. The most common ones have a * by them (see list below). $ means rare to find nesting on trail. Might want to beta test with just a few? Will we be able to get total numbers, and then numbers by species, or to do that would they have to be entered on a separate spreadsheet?

    Typical hatch and fledge days are below for ones I had info on (I can probably get the others.) Notice that some species start incubation after the next-to-last egg is laid, so that makes it tricky…. Perhaps days to hatch be driven by a constant that the user can input into a cell, while leaving the calculation protected. The constant would be species specific and could be based on the monitor’s location. For example, in some areas, bluebird eggs hatch 17 days after the first egg is laid regardless of total number of eggs. Other trails may find differently – thus a user-defined constant would work best.

    IF a range is not used, go with these numbers?

    *EABL – Eastern Bluebird: hatch 13 days, fledge 17 days from hatching

    *MOBL = Mountain Bluebird: go with early end of range: hatch 13 days, fledge, 17 days from hatching

    *WEBL = Western Bluebird: figure hatch 14 days, fledge 21 days

    *TRES = Tree Swallow : hatch 14 days, fledge 21

    Calculate when nestlings reach day 13-14 to avoid opening box

    *EABL – Eastern Bluebird: hatch 12-18 days, fledge 12-19

    *MOBL = Mountain Bluebird: hatch 13-14 days, fledge, 17-22

    *WEBL = Western Bluebird: hatch 13-14 days, fledge 18-24

    ATFL = Ash-throated Flycatcher : hatch 13-15 days, fledge 13-17

    *BCCH = Black-capped Chickadee: hatch 12-13 days, fledge 16

    BCTI = Black-crested titmouse

    $BEWR = Bewick’s wren

    BHCO = Brown-headed cowbird, hatch 9-14 (typically 10-12), fledge 11 days

    $BHNU = Brown-headed Nuthatch: hatch 14 days, fledge 18-19

    *CACH = Carolina Chickadee: 11-14 days (starts on penultimate egg), fledge 13-17

    $CARW = Carolina Wren: hatch 12-14, fledge 12-14

    $CBCH = Chestnut-backed Chickadee – no info available

    $DOWO = Downy woodpecker

    EUST = European Starling: hatch 12-15, 21-13 fledge (I doubt anyone will let them hatch on a bluebird trail)

    *ETTI= (Eastern) Tufted Titmouse – sometimes referred to as TUTI: hatch 12-14, fledge 15-16

    GCFL = Great Crested Flycatcher: hatch 13-15 days, fledge 12-21 (15 typical?)

    $HOFI = house finch. Rare to nest in box.

    *HOSP = House Sparrow : hatch 10-13 days (from penultimate), fledge 14-17

    *HOWR = House Wren: hatch 13-15 days (from penultimate), fledge 12-18

    $MOCH = Mountain Chickadee:hatch 14 days (from penultimate), fledge 19-21

    OATI = Oak Titmouse

    *PROW = Prothonotary Warbler: hatch 12-14, usually 13, fledge 11

    $RBNU = Red-breasted Nuthatch: hatch 12 days (some say 14-16), fledge 18-21 days

    *TRES = Tree Swallow : hatch 13-16 days, fledge 16-24

    TUTI = use ETTI

    $VGSW = Violet-Green Swallow: hatch 13-15, fledge 23-25

    $WBNU = White-breasted Nuthatch: hatch 12 days, fledge 14-17

    Dates – I assume just track month and day of last check?, since form will have year on it?

    NESTING INFO (TBN also has you put in S or F for successful or failed nesting for each nest attempt)

    S (successful) or F (failed)

    N –
    P –
    C –
    F –
    evidence of fledging, nest flattened and/or soiled

    ABAN – Nest abandoned
    WEAT – weather
    PRED – predation, including raccoons, cats, hawks, owls, etc.
    PARA – parasites
    HUMA – human activity
    COMP – competitor species (some list HOSP and HOWR separately)
    UNKN – unknown
    OTHER specify in comments


    Date 1st egg laid?

    Date last egg laid? (for calculations of hatch date)

    Projected hatch date

    Actual Hatch date

    # eggs destroyed or missing (vs. infertile unhatched eggs eggs)?

    (O)blow fly evidence
    N – no evidence
    Y – yes – larvae, pupal cases, and/or scabs on chicks

    Age codes and descriptions are not relevant for bluebird trails. Suggest deleting.

    Choices for multiple broods or multiple attempts by different species. E.g., some boxes may have 3 attempts by 3 different species.

    Either use an attempt number (1, 2, 3), or just add another row with the same nestbox? There may be variation in the definition of a nest attempt – e.g., nest construction begins, finished, or only count if egg is laid? I think I like the egg definition.

    BANDING – See Torrey’s information. # Adult and young banded, Male, Female or Unknown

    COMMENTS SECTION: to note nest change, status, other stuff like removal of HOSP nests or eggs, explain”other,” note vandalism, etc.

    (O)SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING: Y or N or needed (mealworms)

    RACC –
    CAT –
    HOSP –
    House Sparrow
    HOWR –
    House Wren
    SNAK –
    – paper wasp
    BEES –
    LBRD –
    Large bird – starling, owl, blue jay, etc.
    UNKNW –

    GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS (relative to existing PUMA Prognosticator instructions)

    #4 – I was not able to remove the protect command to modify the instructions

    #4. Change password to bluebirds?

    Printing instructions for nest checks: what a great feature! People will use one line per nestbox I imagine. Trails come in all sizes, but I’m guessing 10 to a page might work?

    Email instructions: As of now, I’m guessing NABS and TBN won’t want the spreadsheets sent to them (as they have their own databases). However, I’m hoping someday there will be a way to convert this into a .txt file that they can and will upload to their databases. Maybe some state bluebird societies will be interested in these reports, but for now many have their own format.

    Suggest changing existing text to:

    The information tracked on this Prognosticator is invaluable in observing, evaluating and trending native cavity nester attempts and success. If you would like to forward your report to your bluebird society or other interested party, be sure to attach the file to the email before sending. I’m sure they will appreciate the time and effort you put into tracking and recording activity on your trail, and for sharing the information with them.

    [this section probably needs to be more clear – what happens if you delete some codes because you only have one kind of box?] CODE TYPES AND DESCRIPTIONS – add or modify selections here only. To add more housing codes, enter the code and type in the above table. Default entries can not be changed. The list of codes will then appear as options in all spreadsheets. Warning: Changing housing codes on this list or adding new codes will cause statistics to be inaccurate and is not recommended!

    SUMMARY STATS AND GRAPHS – I think we want the exact same ones you have for PUMAs. The question is whether people want to have separate ones by species…. See next topic.


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