The rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change has created the need for new practices to ensure the survival of managed species. For birds, temperature is a primary factor in nest site selection and a driver of success, so successful management will require temperature mitigation techniques. Cavity nesting birds such as Eastern Bluebirds are particularly vulnerable because natural cavities and nest boxes can experience temperatures higher than the outside ambient temperature. If the interior temperature reaches 41⁰C, this can be lethal to eggs and nestlings. Additionally, temperature can drastically affect nesting bird physiology and behavior, which can also negatively impact nest success. The goal of this study is to determine if painting nest boxes white can reduce the interior temperatures. We monitored 50 Eastern Bluebird nest boxes, 25 were painted white and 25 were left unpainted, at Panola Mountain State Park in central Georgia. Each nest box contained two temperature data loggers, one inside and one on the underside, and recorded temperatures every hour from June 4th to August 15th, 2022. Throughout the whole season, the daily high temperature in control boxes remained approximately 2oC warmer than outside while the daily high temperature in painted boxes remained approximately 2oC cooler than the outside. Painting the boxes not only provides better conditions for nesting bluebirds, but provides a cooler environment than ambient temperature. Especially in hot climates such as central Georgia, cooling nest boxes will become increasingly important as global temperatures rise. Painting nest boxes colors that reflect solar rays may inform habitat management for this and other cavity-nesting species.


Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Georgia College & State University

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