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Thread: Resident Bluebirds

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    McKean, PA
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    Resident Bluebirds

    I've been watching our resident Bluebirds for a couple of weeks. I noticed they were both making numerous trips to and from the nesting box so I located a chair, my camera, tripod and me near the corner of the house. The female was really cautious and wouldn't go to the box for quite a while. It took a while but both birds started coming back to the nest. The male actually went to the opening first.
    IMG_4904.jpgIMG_4908.jpgIMG_4913.jpgIMG_4914.jpg
    After a short while, I decided to leave as they were really nervous about me even though I was 30 feet away.
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Michiana
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    I live too near the woods to see them often, but we've had a few on our feeders this year. Pretty birds.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    The Hartland of Michigan
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    7,403
    I use a USB endoscope camera with my phone to get pictures of the nests. This is our 4th year of being gparents to Bluebirds. We have 2 boxes for them made from 8-9" of pvc pipe.
    I'd attach a couple of pictures, but I don't get that option on my phone. I used to.
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  4. #4
    Two of my six boxes have flights ( five each) almost ready to fly. One will next week, and the other the following week. I've got a couple boxes I need to relocate, as this is the second year without a nesting pair in them.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2003
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    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
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    We donít have pretty bluebirds here but a Roadrunner has adopted us over the last few years. LOML is not a fan of him at all. He hunts lizards that keep the spider pop under control and likes to camp in some of our zero-scape plantings, smashing them down in the process. Heís very brave. You can walk up to within a few feet before he trots away.
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    Last edited by Bruce Page; 05-01-2021 at 9:15 PM.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    I've been watching our resident Bluebirds for a couple of weeks. I noticed they were both making numerous trips to and from the nesting box so I located a chair, my camera, tripod and me near the corner of the house. The female was really cautious and wouldn't go to the box for quite a while. It took a while but both birds started coming back to the nest. The male actually went to the opening first.
    IMG_4904.jpgIMG_4908.jpgIMG_4913.jpgIMG_4914.jpg
    After a short while, I decided to leave as they were really nervous about me even though I was 30 feet away.
    Thanks for the excellent pix. I love bluebirds! Have nest boxes and feeders up.

    One year, for some reason, a pair made their nest on top a roof beam in the corner of our side porch. The incredible thing for me is when I noticed the babies were getting active in the nest I took a camera out and sat on the porch for a while. I got lucky and got some photos of their first flights, one in mid air! The photos were not too good due to the lack of light but the experience is unforgettable.

    I used to have trouble with raccoons climbing a pole and reaching into the nest box to grab a baby bluebird snack. I fastened a 3" long cylinder of hardware cloth to the entrance opening. It didn't keep the birds from nesting and the raccoons couldn't reach inside anymore.

    Your post made me make a note to make bluebird houses next winter for some shop time with the grandsons, maybe for their house and ours.

    JKJ
    Last edited by John K Jordan; 05-02-2021 at 11:20 PM. Reason: senior moment, mental confusion

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Woodstock, VA
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    903
    Thanks for sharing these pics guys. I too love watching birds and blue birds are definitely among my favorites.

    Iíve never seen a road runner, what a cool bird to have as a neighbor!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    2,639
    We fledged 17 chicks from our pair last year, the first five are on the way for this year:

    IMG_3129.jpg IMG_3083.jpeg

    It took me 25 years of experimenting with nest boxes to finally achieve consistent success. We've had 2-3 successful clutches from one pair in our small meadow every year for the last five now. Predator control (snakes in particular) turned out to be the key, as well, of course, as providing an environment rich in native plants and therefore the 6-8000 caterpillars required to fledge a nest of bluebird chicks. The wobbling stovepipe guard shown below is the first one I've found to be pretty completely reliable. It is large enough in diameter that most snakes can't climb the outside diameter, in addition it is open at the top with a piece of hardware cloth to block the snake's progress. They will climb the center post toward the light hit the screen and be frustrated. As long as they see the light above they won't even try going up the outside route. The guard also appears to be good for other predators like raccoons, skunks, and squirrels.


    IMG_3098.jpg

    Here are links to my favorite nesting box and the guard plans:


    https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DEEP/w...-box-plans.pdf
    https://nestwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/guardsto.pdf

    There are many more exotic nest box plans available, in my experience they don't work as well.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
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    10,768
    Thanks for posting the plans. Mine are similar dimensions. I like the placement advice and the guard.

    Looks like you are using a modification - what's the purpose of the added block at the entrance? I've had trouble with other birds enlarging the entrance opening and thought about mounting a thin protective piece of brass, plastic, or something on the front with the proper size hole.

    The plans show a pivoting front for cleaning, something some omit - I use a couple of small hinges on the top. Also, I found it easy to attach the pole by fastening a galvanized threaded pipe flange to the bottom of the box (with holes for screws, I think they are called floor flanges, from the local hardware store).

    JKJ

    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    We fledged 17 chicks from our pair last year, the first five are on the way for this year:

    IMG_3129.jpg IMG_3083.jpeg

    It took me 25 years of experimenting with nest boxes to finally achieve consistent success. We've had 2-3 successful clutches from one pair in our small meadow every year for the last five now. Predator control (snakes in particular) turned out to be the key, as well, of course, as providing an environment rich in native plants and therefore the 6-8000 caterpillars required to fledge a nest of bluebird chicks. The wobbling stovepipe guard shown below is the first one I've found to be pretty completely reliable. It is large enough in diameter that most snakes can't climb the outside diameter, in addition it is open at the top with a piece of hardware cloth to block the snake's progress. They will climb the center post toward the light hit the screen and be frustrated. As long as they see the light above they won't even try going up the outside route. The guard also appears to be good for other predators like raccoons, skunks, and squirrels.


    IMG_3098.jpg

    Here are links to my favorite nesting box and the guard plans:


    https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DEEP/w...-box-plans.pdf
    https://nestwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/guardsto.pdf

    There are many more exotic nest box plans available, in my experience they don't work as well.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    2,639
    The extra block on the front is to make the entrance hole deeper so that a raccoon or similar predator can't reach all the way to the nest. I reinforce the opening with a 1-1/2" stainless steel washer (McMaster Carr) that I screw over the hole to keep other critters like squirrels and other birds from enlarging the hole.

    Some folks like to use a square tube of hardware cloth making a tunnel to the entry hole, saying that it discourages invasive European house sparrows. My pellet gun works pretty well for that.

    The floor flange is a good idea. Most of my boxes are mounted on 1" EMT using U-brackets screwed to the back of the box. It's cheap and lasts a long time.

    Providing for easy cleanout is important; mites, other parasites, and mold will accumulate int eh old nesting material. The birds will often build a second nest on top of the first, but they seem to come back more readily if you clean out the old nest as soon as the chicks have fledged. Bluebirds don't return to the nest once they've fledged. For sure boxes should be well cleaned (in Feb in our part of the world) prior to nesting season that stars about April 1 in MA.

    Placing boxes in pairs seems to help. Bluebirds are very territorial with respect to other bluebirds and need about an acre as their nesting range, but they are very tolerant of other species close by. If I get a tree swallow or house wren in the second box they help each other in defending the nest territory.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Columbus, OH
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    2,319
    Nice pics Lee! I may have to build 1 or 2 of those.

    Thanks for posting
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    For anyone who wants my whole bluebird brain dump you can find the powerpoint slides I made for the talk I just gave here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/08cdfsgiiu...0talk.pdf?dl=0

    As you can tell, I'm obsessed. Apologies to Lee, whose thread I'm afraid I've hijacked.

  13. #13
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    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    For anyone who wants my whole bluebird brain dump you can find the powerpoint slides I made for the talk I just gave here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/08cdfsgiiu...0talk.pdf?dl=0

    As you can tell, I'm obsessed. Apologies to Lee, whose thread I'm afraid I've hijacked.
    Excellent, thanks. I can't imagine Lee concerned about hijacking if promoting bluebird population is happenin'!

    The first picture of the slides shows a bluebird with a mealworm. Do you feed mealworms and if so how do you present them? Just on a plate or bowl, scattered on the ground, what? I buy mealworms in quantity, usually 22 lbs at a time, feed to peacocks, guineas, turkey, and chickens. I've heard bluebirds like them.

    BTW, the most prolific nesting birds I've seen around here are Carolina Wrens. We have them nesting in the barn, on top of the porch beams, in almost every covered area. Years ago I spent the day photographing a pair building a nest in a motorcycle helmet on our carport. I set up a digital SLR camera on a tripod and triggered with a remote control through a window in the house. I took a zillion photos - some of my favorites, especially The Takeoff! (I'm in the background in some of the shots, fortunately out of focus.)

    Carolina_Wren.jpg Carolina_Wren_nest.jpg Carolina_Wren_takeoff.jpg

    Sorry, I'm a card-carrying, certified bird fanatic. Birds of all kinds, wild and domestic (except for the newly discovered archenemy, the $#%*%& House Sparrow - thanks for the education).

    bird-yellow.jpg

    guinea_hatching.jpg chicks_2020_04_25-pile.jpg

    snake_peacocks.jpg

    Snakes are a problem for nesting peafowl too. Although the eggs are far too large for even a huge blacksnake to swallow, they try. A few years ago two black snakes killed about 30 eggs here by disturbing sitting peahens. After that I started putting the nesting boxes high off the ground. Most eggs go in the incubators now but I like for the hens to raise a few each year.

    peachicks_four.jpg

    JKJ

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