bob_G

Bird house question

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When I had the rig at BSP, the rear bumper was missing an end cap.

Yep, some small bird had set up a nest inside that open ended bumper.

It was an amazingly well constructed nest.

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Bird nests are a kinda side hobby of mine since I found a baby robin when I was 5 and my dad put it back in the nest.

My eyes involuntary go to nests or track birds doing nesty things without meaning to. 

These days I mostly look for raptor nests and my son takes pics.

Back in the olden days, I used an antique film SLR to photograph any nest I could find.

Some samples, prints scanned, uploaded, downloaded, reuploaded.

Bluebird, robin, mockingbird,  barn swallow, grey catbird, spotted sandpiper, killdeer.

Edit: damn! My killdeer got cut off. That sucks. The red eye was the best part.

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Edited by mikez2

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Years back, around this time of year, I was putting a wide-board pine floor down in a spare room at our old house. I was at the saw and peeked out the picture window to see a male and female pair of bluebirds perched on the corner of a detached garage and screen room in the backyard. 

 

After lunch, I got some pine cutoffs and quick cobbled together a nesting box, then took it out and mounted it just under the roof overhang on the screen room.

 

Swear to god, within a half hour, the bluebirds were checking it out and within an hour after that, the female was inside while the male brought her grass and stuff to build a nest. 

 

That started a three or four year period of having bluebirds nesting in my yard. One season, they raised two broods, so, by the winter, there was a family of 11 bluebirds in my yard. I had helped them when they raised their young by putting out live mealworms in an empty catfood tin I mounted to the top of a piece of broom stick stuck in the ground. 

 

Every time I brought worms out, I whistled the same two-note call, kind of like the call a peewee makes. By the end of the summer, I could walk down the street a few houses, whistle, and within a minute or so, a bluebird would land on the wire overhead to see if I had food.

 

As enchanting as they are, I discourage anybody thinking of having bluebirds nesting in their boxes UNLESS they are fully prepared to ruthlessly destroy any House Sparrows (HOSP) that try to take the nest over... and if there are lots of House Sparrows, you're going to be very busy indeed as they will constantly harass the bluebirds. 

 

If the HOSP gain entry into a nest with a mother sitting on eggs, they will peck her to death unless she flees and they will destroy the eggs. If they gain entry into a nest with baby bluebirds, they will kill them and build their own nests right on top of the dead babies. 

 

In the few years I had nesting bluebirds, I killed over 100 HOSP, by shooting with a pellet rifle, or by trapping them with false nesting boxes I'd tape to the front of the real boxes they had driven the bluebirds out of. 

 

This is perfectly legal to kill them in CT, as HOSP are invasive aliens that have done a lot of damage to many native songbirds, especially bluebirds. But if you're not willing to protect the native songbirds in your nesting boxes from these house sparrows, you won't be doing them any favors by allowing more HOSPs to breed.

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8 mins ago, RI: best part of CT said:

Years back, around this time of year, I was putting a wide-board pine floor down in a spare room at our old house. I was at the saw and peeked out the picture window to see a male and female pair of bluebirds perched on the corner of a detached garage and screen room in the backyard. 

 

After lunch, I got some pine cutoffs and quick cobbled together a nesting box, then took it out and mounted it just under the roof overhang on the screen room.

 

Swear to god, within a half hour, the bluebirds were checking it out and within an hour after that, the female was inside while the male brought her grass and stuff to build a nest. 

 

That started a three or four year period of having bluebirds nesting in my yard. One season, they raised two broods, so, by the winter, there was a family of 11 bluebirds in my yard. I had helped them when they raised their young by putting out live mealworms in an empty catfood tin I mounted to the top of a piece of broom stick stuck in the ground. 

 

Every time I brought worms out, I whistled the same two-note call, kind of like the call a peewee makes. By the end of the summer, I could walk down the street a few houses, whistle, and within a minute or so, a bluebird would land on the wire overhead to see if I had food.

 

As enchanting as they are, I discourage anybody thinking of having bluebirds nesting in their boxes UNLESS they are fully prepared to ruthlessly destroy any House Sparrows (HOSP) that try to take the nest over... and if there are lots of House Sparrows, you're going to be very busy indeed as they will constantly harass the bluebirds. 

 

If the HOSP gain entry into a nest with a mother sitting on eggs, they will peck her to death unless she flees and they will destroy the eggs. If they gain entry into a nest with baby bluebirds, they will kill them and build their own nests right on top of the dead babies. 

 

In the few years I had nesting bluebirds, I killed over 100 HOSP, by shooting with a pellet rifle, or by trapping them with false nesting boxes I'd tape to the front of the real boxes they had driven the bluebirds out of. 

 

This is perfectly legal to kill them in CT, as HOSP are invasive aliens that have done a lot of damage to many native songbirds, especially bluebirds. But if you're not willing to protect the native songbirds in your nesting boxes from these house sparrows, you won't be doing them any favors by allowing more HOSPs to breed.

Best results with bluebirds is far enough away from all buildings and settled areas where house sparrows live.

Killing the sparrows becomes a gruesome chore of needless killing just so humans can watch bluebirds. 

Not to defend sparrows. Kill them if you must, but it's a shame to kill and waste them. The bluebirds really don't need help. They just avoid sparrow dominated areas, like suburban yards around buildings. 

 

House sparrows are actually on the decline in many areas so maybe down the road it won't matter. 

 

I will not deny shooting sparrows with a BB gun is challenging and fun. I hate seeing them go to waste, pest they may be.

Unless you have pet boas or big ole bull snakes for pets, then they become a savings to the budget.

Smaller snakes love the eggs and chicks too.

:howdy:

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As far as nest placement for bluebirds - they like big yards with few trees and lots of short grass.

 

They make a living by perching on low branches, roofs, posts, wires, etc. and watching the grass for insects. When they see one, they fly down and grab it.

 

If you have a large yard, put a nest on a post between 5 and 8 feet off the ground, with the hole facing north, and if there are any bluebirds around, they'll check it out. 

 

It's best to have the box about 50 feet from other trees and shrubs as the house sparrows and starlings will use those other trees to launch attacks on the nest. 50 feet gives the male more time to repel them.

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24 mins ago, mikez2 said:

Best results with bluebirds is far enough away from all buildings and settled areas where house sparrows live.

Killing the sparrows becomes a gruesome chore of needless killing just so humans can watch bluebirds. 

Not to defend sparrows. Kill them if you must, but it's a shame to kill and waste them. The bluebirds really don't need help. They just avoid sparrow dominated areas, like suburban yards around buildings. 

 

House sparrows are actually on the decline in many areas so maybe down the road it won't matter. 

 

I will not deny shooting sparrows with a BB gun is challenging and fun. I hate seeing them go to waste, pest they may be.

Unless you have pet boas or big ole bull snakes for pets, then they become a savings to the budget.

Smaller snakes love the eggs and chicks too.

:howdy:

I won't disagree with you on many points... which is why I discourage folks from trying to have bluebirds in their boxes IF there are lots of HOSP around and IF they are not willing to help the bluebirds.

 

And if there are... yes, it's a gruesome chore and one which I tired of so completely that I stopped putting boxes out. 

 

But in areas where the two species are in competition, the HOSP win unless they themselves have human enemies. It's an endless struggle though, being a bluebird ally in areas with  too many house sparrows.

 

Ironically, the suburban yards and buildings now dominated by house sparrows was once a favored habitat of bluebirds, before the arrival of the house sparrows, that is.  That's often the problem with non-native species - they take over habitats formerly occupied by native species. In this case, bluebirds were once very common in suburban areas living in close proximity to humans. After house sparrows were introduced, they were nearly driven to extinction in much of their former range.

 

Edited by RI: best part of CT

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You might want to verify recommended distance from feeders. I seem to recall reading that is an important factor as the nesting birds don't like a lot of activity nearby.

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4 hours ago, Joe G said:

Bob.....would having Charlie running loose in your yard be perceived as a threat to the young chicks by the parents?  So much so, that the parents would not nest in the yard?

I suppose, if he were allowed to run loose. Charlie, nor any of our dogs are allowed to run loose in the yard. They're only out when we're out.

 

 

 

Edited by bob_G

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In our area (upstate NY) the tree swallows provide more competition than house sparrows for bluebird nest boxes.  So the standard layout includes two nest boxes set out in a field maybe 10' apart.  The logic is, let the swallows take over one box, they are very territorial with other swallows, but will allow bluebirds in the other box.

Edited by buz23

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30 mins ago, buz23 said:

In our area (upstate NY) the tree swallows provide more competition than house sparrows for bluebird nest boxes.  So the standard layout includes two nest boxes set out in a field maybe 10' apart.  The logic is, let the swallows take over one box, they are very territorial with other swallows, but will allow bluebirds in the other box.

I could never get both... I'd get tree swallows in one and the bluebirds would never take the second nest box...or vice versa. But never both. Too bad, too.. I would have liked having the tree swallows and bluebirds working together.

 

As beautiful as they are, Tree swallows are very messy nesters. They'd let the nest box fill with all sorts of crap. One baby even died in there, but they just let the corpse stay in the box the whole time. Cleaning that box out after they left was nasty!

 

The bluebirds were fastidiously clean. The mother would collect these little poop packets from the youngn's in the nest and then fly off to hide them somewhere far from the nest. One year, her favored hiding place was on the wires between the telephone poles along the street in front of my neighbor's house. She had about 10 of them lined up there before she found somewhere else to stow them :D

Edited by RI: best part of CT

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