Project Nest Box Student Story and Photo Contest

In the Spring of 2010, students were invited to participate in a Story Contest and a Photo Contest related to their experiences with Project Nest Box – School Nest Watch Program. Below are the winning entries.


Project Nest Box Student Story Contest Winner 2010

Janice’s story submission clearly depicts her experiences while monitoring the nest boxes. She leads the reader on a journey using vivid descriptions of her emotions as she anticipates the results of opening the box for the first time, while simultaneously educating us on the nuances of the tree swallow. Great work, Janice!

By Janice C.
Grade 7, St. Justin Martyr CES, Markham, Ontario

It was May 17, 2010. That was the day that me and my friend Beatrix first saw a male Tree Swallow fly into a nest box. We quickly ran to the nest box, eager with excitement. As we sat in front of the nest box, we were so fascinated; the male Tree Swallow meant that it was going to be a great observation. The male, which was white underneath and had metallic blue upperparts, swooped into the box, then out, then sat on a fence. Unfortunately, out of the blue, a person hit the fence with his ball, and it quickly flew away. The female, who was there too, flew with the male Tree Swallow. My joy disappeared for a moment, but that didn’t stop me from learning more them, and that was just the beginning. Our biggest hope was to see the Tree Swallow’s pure white eggs resting in the nest.

On the very next day, Beatrix and I quickly raced to the nest box to see if the pair of Tree Swallows would come back. We also wanted to see if there were any changes. Surprisingly, they did come back, and when we peeked inside the box through a hole at the bottom, there were nest material! We practically leaped with happiness. The nest material consisted of dry weeds and grass, straw, string, and feathers, usually of waterfowl. Meanwhile, the male was busily circling around, probably guarding its territory while the female sat perching on a wire. And so for the next few days, the same things happened, we were still going to the nest box every recess until one day, we noticed a very peculiar smell, like a wet dog kind of smell. Beatrix and I really had no idea why there could be this smell, but then Beatrix remembered that when she was in kindergarten, her class had raised eggs and the eggs had that same smell during its incubation. By then, we assumed there were really eggs, but that was a 50% certainty. Beatrix believed it was eggs, but I believed that it was probably just the nest material that was placed in the box not long ago that had not dried up yet. But whatever outcome came up, we were waiting for our principal’s approval to open the nest box up, and we were waiting and hoping for the day we saw the eggs in the nest box.

Finally, we were given permission to open it up without scaring the pair away and abandoning the eggs. In the end, there was just the nest but no eggs were waiting to hatch. Although we didn’t get what we hoped for, I thought that this was a worthwhile experience and we certainly learned a great deal. As an experienced bird watcher, I have encountered many different things, but never something as great as this. I want to be become an ornithologist someday-because it’s something that I personally think I will really enjoy being for quite a long time.


Project Nest Box Student Photo Contest Winner 2010

Caleb submitted this photo of newly hatched Tree Swallows in one of our nest boxes. The photo clearly shows the hungry naked babies waiting to be fed and also depicts the characteristics of a Tree Swallow nest—dry grasses lined with feathers which curl over the eggs and babies. Well done, Caleb!

By Caleb K.
Grade 7, St. John Chrysostom School, Newmarket, Ontario

Caleb’s photo was used on the poster which was shipped with all new orders for the 2011 season!