Finally we have some serious nest building. On Saturday, 09 March, Mama II began making regular runs in the rain to the box with a mouth full of grass. She would fly from the box to the red dirt hill and gather a mouthful of grass and head immediately back to the box. The photo of the nest was taken on 10 March.
Photos by L. Dillon. Click to enlarge.
A cold front came through yesterday with strong, cold north winds and I didn’t see much activity from the bluebirds other than when they showed up for breakfast.
It usually takes bluebirds about a week to build a nest, but these birds are inexperienced so it could take a little longer. I noticed that this nest is not as tightly woven and perfectly shaped as those Mama built. The weather is supposed to warm up quickly and I expect the bluebirds will be busy again when the sun comes out. The female normally lays those pretty little powder blue eggs soon after the nest is completed. I saw the Daddy II feed his mate a big caterpillar recently. That is common courtship behavior for bluebirds.
If you put up a bluebird box, it should be monitored at least weekly to check on progress and control House Sparrows, blow flies, paper wasps, and to remove unhatched eggs. Boxes should be cleaned out after nesting. At least annually, you should also replace any split, rotten, or broken pieces on boxes that could let rain in and chill nestlings. Rubbing a bar of soap on the ceiling of a box will discourage wasps from building nests. This is a good tip if you are attempting to attract bluebirds. If birds aren’t going in and out routinely, you will find a surprise one day when you open the box.
I still have a half-dozen House Sparrows around and that worries me. Both bluebirds chase them if they come near the box, but the danger is always there that one of the sparrows will destroy the nest or worse… kill Mama II in the box. I’ve had my sparrow trap out for a week baited with white millet. I did catch four sparrows- but they were Harris’ Sparrows, which I immediately removed and set free.
I’m optimistic that this nesting will produce babies, so I’m going to start a nest summary like previous years. Keep your fingers crossed.
First Brood Summary
- First sign of nest building 09 March