I haven’t opened the nest box in three days because I don’t want to risk causing the babies to fledge prematurely. A welcome rain is falling this morning and the adult bluebirds are soaking wet. They just chased a squirrel out of the back yard. I wish I had a video of that to post! It was hilarious. No matter how fast that squirrel zigged and zagged, he couldn’t shake the bluebirds that were right on him. So far, there is no sign of the babies peeking out of the entrance to the box. This normally starts shortly before fledging.
Mama with a big ole juicy grub worm. Click photos to enlarge.
While we are waiting on the babies to emerge, we might talk a little more about hosting bluebirds. It is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. If you think you can attract a pair, go for it. The first thing you should consider is a House Sparrow control plan. If you can’t control sparrows, then don’t put up a box that will become a death trap for bluebirds.
Next consider the nest box. If there is another bluebird pair nesting within a hundred yards, they won’t tolerate each other and it’s not a good idea to put up a box. Bluebird males are extremely territorial. The nest box should be mounted on a small pole, like a piece of 3/4 inch galvanized pipe. You can then use electrical conduit hangers to secure the box to it. The reason you want a small smooth pole is because it is more difficult for snakes and raccoons to climb it to reach the nest. Don’t use wooden posts or steel posts designed for barb wire fences. It’s also a good idea to include a baffle on the pole to make it more difficult for predators to get to the nest. Snakes key in on the sounds of the babies in the box and are quite adept and climbing and eating birds.
My bluebird box.
Next consider the nest box itself. I think it is easier and cheaper for one box to just buy one rather than build it. It’s important that the design of the box is approved by the North American Bluebird Society. There are too many specs to cover here, but they need to be followed to assure the survival of eggs and babies. Complete specs can be viewed at http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/nestboxspecs.htm
Without question, bluebirds are the most sociable wild birds you can attract to your property. If you feed them mealworms and routinely talk to them, they absolutely recognize you. I was visiting with a bluebird researcher from OSU awhile back and mentioned that Daddy seems to recognize me from other people and she said they had noticed that the birds on their research route knew one observer from another. I encourage anyone with an interest to try to host a bluebird pair. If you end up with some cute little chickadees or titmice, that’s OK, too.