Is it possible to have too many bluebird houses? The answer would be yes and no, depending on several factors and just how “into” bluebirds you’re willing to get. I recently joined a forum for Bluebird Monitors as I’ve seen some pretty bizarre happenings with bluebirds this season.
In the past, Eastern Bluebirds have over-wintered in our North Georgia Yard, and have gone on to nest in various bluebird houses, raising several successful broods. It’s awesome to watch older siblings help raise the fledgelings too. And mom and dad will work as a pair for about 30 days to raise their brood.
The first five eggs all hatched, all fledged… off to a good start, right? Not really 🙁 The male disappeared about 3 days before these babies fledged, so mom was on her own. It wasn’t long before these babies learned to feed themselves at the mealworm feeder. Granted, only three of them made it thus far, but it looked promising. I then noticed a strange lump, almost a protrusion on one of these babies, which was the reason for joining the bluebird forum. After posting the question, I’d received a detailed answer saying this was likely a broken air sac, which happens frequently to fledgeling as they can’t really tell yet what’s solid or open. It could either absorb itself, or turn infectious. I watched daily, this group of three siblings who stuck together at feeding times. It was the female with injury and I so hoped she remain okay. And she did for a while, until the turf wars began.
Enter a new male Eastern Bluebird: he had it in for these fledgelings as they were not his brood. Relentlessly he’d chase them from feeder to feeder, dive-bombing and harassing them constantly. It was the most difficult thing to watch. The new male was trying to attract one of the two adult females… and with all his might at that. One day there were no fledgelings, two days and no fledgelings, by day three I’d given up. The male had either driven them from the area, or killed them. I’d never seen Bluebirds engage in such behavior, and it saddened me.
About one week later, I learned of the new nest and the babies who had hatched. Never actually monitoring this bluebird house, I’d watch the female cram as many worms in her mouth as she could and fly to the box, so I knew she was feeding hatchlings. This bluebird house sits very high up, so again, it was never monitored. The other day I saw both parent bring three fledgeling to the mealworm feeder, and had better hopes for a successful brood.
Typically Bluebird Houses should be about 100 feet apart. With an acre of land, we have several different kinds of houses for them. Other cavity nesters also use bluebird houses and this is where some extreme bird wars are created. House Sparrows are enemy number one, destructive and aggressive, they’ll chuck Bluebird eggs from the houses, kill nestlings, and even adult Bluebirds. House Wrens will do the same, wreaking havoc on Bluebirds. Tree Swallows will also compete for Bluebird Houses, and sometimes adding a second house 10-15 feet apart helps eliminate competition. After reading the many posts from the Bluebirds Forum, I’ve learned that most species are quite territorial during nesting season, aggressive and downright mean. Predator guards help some, and devices called “sparrow spookers” may keep these non-native demons at bay, but I guess it’s just survival of the fittest, kinda sad that mother nature can be so tough.
Recently I came across this article and thought it was a brilliant idea for a 4th grade class elementary school project. Worthy of posting to let as many as possible know about it, 70 bluebird houses were added to a community! This project taught many lessons, including bluebird conservation.
Atlas of Student Action for the Planet
Forty-nine students built 70 bluebird houses to hang throughout the neighborhood. The wood was provided by the EPA and was cut by a wonderful volunteer. We then had a great day doing a multitude of math activities based on the geometry of the pieces and then assembled them in the classroom with a variety of electric screwdrivers and hammers. Each kid went home with one blue bird house to put in their own yard and we put up the extras around the school and the surrounding community. We had a blast!
CARRIED OUT BY:
Goodwin School, 4th Grade
Storrs, CT, USA
RESPONSIBLE TEACHER / SUPERVISOR:
Cantara / Toffenetti
SCHOOL PRINCIPAL / GROUP DIRECTOR:
Thanks to this Nest Cam, see a female Bluebird make final tweaks to her nest inside this bluebird house!
Video Courtesy of: Help-for-Bluebirds.org (HFBB)
A non-profit organization dedicated to Eastern bluebird conservation.
Name: Bluebird Shepherd
Dedicated bluebird conservationist.
Country: United States