They’ve started already, in the Southeast and further North, lots of folks are reporting first nests and first eggs laid in their bluebird houses. It’s one sign of springs’ arrival… bluebirds are house hunting!
Bluebird landlords (or folks who monitor bluebird houses) are eagerly awaiting the first clutches. Weather can be a tricky factor with late winter/early spring broods as natural food is still scarce. Bluebirds’ diets may be supplemented with meal worms, suet, shelled peanuts and sunflower hearts to help brooding birds cope with frigid or extremely wet weather.
Find the most handsome bluebird houses for all tastes, most are approved by the North American Bluebird Society (NABS). A house with side door makes for easy monitoring, as does the famous Gilbertson Nest Box.
High quality and USA made, find durable cedar, recycled plastic (or poly-lumber) and stunning vinyl bluebird houses with copper roofs. Standing the test of time, bluebirds will return to these fine digs year after year should fledges be successful.
No… you won’t disturb them if you tap on the birdhouse first, steer clear of busy feeding times (dawn and dusk) and especially refrain prior to fledge time (about 19 days after hatching). The latter may scare babies into an early fledge for which they are not fully prepared.
Check out the website Silais.org for a wealth of information on bluebirds and other native cavity-nesting birds. Every question will be answered on this addictive site!
If you don’t have a blue bird house up yet… don’t fret. But now’s the time! Blues will brood two, three and sometimes even four clutches per season. Open space is best with tress or fence line nearby for bluebirds to perch, hunt insects and guard their nests. Fresh water in a birdbath always entices feathered friends too!
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your bluebird house on!
By the sound of the title alone, you gotta figure it can’t be good, but if the information educates just one person or raises awareness, then it’s well worth the time to write.
Simply put: pesticides kill. Not only do they kill the targeted species, but affected prey also becomes poison (and fatal) for predator as well.
In a bluebird house along one monitor’s trail in a cemetery (yes, they’re great spots to host blues with open spaces and relatively limited activity) sat five eggs never to be incubated. Mom and dad who were healthy thriving parents were both found dead in the box, yet totally intact. This pair was actually banded and well known by local bluebird enthusiasts.
How does this connect to bluebird houses and meal worms? Pesticides… in the form of worm-shaped pellets! Mole baits resemble mealworms and when used properly should be placed below ground in the mole runs. Due to the inadvertent misuse of this poison by a cemetery employee, a slow and painful death came for both parents.
The incident occurred a few months ago. After the bait was carelessly disbursed, a sudden cold snap had the bluebirds believing these were worms. Paralyzed without a mark on them, both perished one day apart due to paralysis from the poison. Both had gone back to the bluebird house with eggs for their final breaths.
A bit dramatic? Maybe so, But step back and look at the big picture because in nature (and life) everything is connected. We’re killing ourselves, killing pollinators and killing Mother Earth. (this post was scheduled for Earth Day).
Stop using pesticides and chemicals. Manicured lawns and gardens are passe, natural and rustic are in style! If you’re trying to attract hummingbirds, butterflies or bees for instance, do not treat or spray flowers from which they draw nectar. Please be aware and mindful to help nature thrive in your patch of green… it’s for your own good!
Thanks Paula Z. of Ohio (dedicated bluebird monitor) for letting others know about this occurrence and use of the images.
“Sad occurrence in lone box in Powell Cemetery. Both male and female EABL were killed by Talpirid mole bait. We had extended cold snap and snow and desperate to find food, almost certainly found some “worms”. Male found dead in nestbox on 4-13 by me. He was in good physical shape without a mark on him. Female was in tree making some noise when I got there (maybe in pain, who knows?). I removed him and left her 5 eggs there. Following day, my friend checked box and found her dead in there too. I contacted city to find they had put down mole bait worms – almost certainly they found them, ate them or fed them to each other… Sad. I removed box for several days because a new pair was there checking out box same day we removed dead female – hope worms are out of the ecosystem by now. City won’t use poison worms again; will trap if they need to kill moles.
The dead male was banded in the nest on 7-1-13 in park that is maybe quarter mile from cemetery. This male was progeny of “Kamakazi Kent”, very aggressive male that hits me in the head at Village Green Park – no evidence of him nesting this year yet there, but he may no longer be with us as I know he nested there for past six years.”
It may seem like spring’s a ways off, but as far north as New England, bluebirds are on the move to pair off, claim nest boxes & territories and start their broods!
Photos by David Kinneer… with many thanks for sharing these amazing shots! To visit his awesomely inspiring bluebird images and slideshows, head over to SmugMug… it’s most definitely worth your time!
The image above shows the wing wave or wing tip and it’s one of the advanced ways bluebirds communicate with each other. Especially during courtship (happening now) it’s almost an animated signal that says “Come check this nice bluebird house and let’s pair up!” Of course the Mrs. will have to inspect and approve the new digs before the deal is sealed.
Now’s also the time when young blues who fledged last spring start getting kicked around by parents. No more big happy families when it comes to nesting, all bets are off. Parents will chase their own sons and daughters from territories they claim for the season. A little sad to watch but all part of Mother Nature’s pecking order (no pun intended).
David’s galleries include images/slideshows of many bluebird scenarios, from weather to predators, fledging babies and feeding, it’s truly remarkable and so informative through his images only (nothing to read).
With natural nesting places disappearing- real estate is tough out there for bluebirds and other cavity dwelling birds. Offering a safe place to raise young is both helpful and rewarding. By safe we refer to suitable housing (preferably Bluebird Society Approved) and the commitment to be a responsible landlord. If house sparrows are prevalent in the area, it’s best to avoid putting up a bluebird house just to let them nest… they’re a bluebirds’ nightmare.
The website Sialis.org offers a wealth of information that’s easy to understand and follow. In fact, you might get hooked there too! Between David’s bluebird gallery and Sialis… well, there went the night! Happy Birding 🙂
‘Tis the season, bluebirds are busy claiming territory, finding mates and already nesting in many parts of the country. Because they typically have 2-3 broods per season, it’s not too late to entice them to your place with quality bluebird houses.
Open spaces best suit blues, with places to perch and swoop up insects. They’ll perch on lower limbs of nearby trees, on top of birdhouses, and even on feeder poles. Not only to hunt prey, but to keep a watchful eye over their box and nestlings as well. They’re such tentative parents, with mom & dad’s teamwork accounting for successful fledges!
Vinyl bluebird houses rock because they’ll never deteriorate like wood. The light color is better for late summer scorching temperatures too. This copper roof bluebird house is complete with predator guard and removable roof for easy nest clean-out. It mounts on a standard 4×4 post… no tools required!
The Gilbertson nest Box is also mighty popular among blues. Vinyl with a birch appearance, it’s a great design if you’re up for monitoring nests (recommended). Be polite and always knock first (well, tap) before checking nests!
The secret sauce? In an attempt to bring bluebirds to our yards, and after exhausting all other food treats to lure them, many folks finally resort to offering live mealworms. They do the trick! But what soon happens with many bird addicts (like any addiction) is we’re feeding too many worms and the bird’s diet is skewed.
Extremely high in protein, too many worms can cause problems for female blues during nesting season. Something called egg bound, where she becomes unable to pass/lay her egg. It’s fatal most times, and really sad when seasoned bluebird monitors discover this. It can and does happen in the wild without gorging on meal worms too.
So if you’ve got the bluebird itch and find yourself feeding lots of worms during nesting season, this supplement helps lower the chance of females becoming egg-bound. Calcium carbonate powder is widely available online, or maybe at your local health and nutrition store.
Just a little in the container with a few shakes & swirls to lightly dust worms is perfect. Doesn’t that sound yummy? 🙂 It also helps other females during nesting season should they be partaking (or stealing) your mealies!
“Yesterday was very bright sun, but still cool with a heavy frost this morning. By late evening there were bluebird families sitting on high line wires & fence lines and males were singing from tree tops all along the roads where I have up bluebird houses. You see families of bluebirds right now at every people house that has up nesting boxes in their yards!”
See? That’s from a bluebird expert… the scouts will be out and about very soon, busy claiming their territory and the best spring digs in hopes of attracting a mate for the cycle of life that is nesting season! It’s a great time of year for all those “people houses” who host feathered friends too.
If you’ve never experienced a family of blues in your yard… this is the year you must try! For those who’ve hosted, and even monitored nests, the rewards need not be explained. Mom & Dad raise nestlings with some pretty amazing teamwork and TLC. Should bluebirds stick around for a second clutch (very common if the first fledges are successful) you’ll see those juveniles help parents raise the new babies. Totally cool indeed!
Bluebird houses are best placed in an open area, mounted at about 5 feet high. The houses can be higher, but will prove difficult to monitor-which is a bummer. Folks actually help bluebirds thrive by looking out for them and monitoring their houses.
Everyone starts somewhere, so an absolute knowledge of the bird isn’t required – but some basic know-how and what to watch for are best for the birds. The North American Bluebird Society (NABS) actually rates and approves birdhouses suited for blues. Should you plan to monitor this year, look for a NABS Approved Bluebird House.
The website Sialis.org has a wealth of information in an easy to navigate format. Not just for bluebirds, but info about most North American cavity nesters. Your state may even have a bluebird society or association who’d be thrilled to help get you started with hosting bluebirds!