All solutions to HOSP control have drawbacks, but not controlling them at all has the greatest drawback. … Cherie Layton, The Bluebird Nut, 2006
We’ve been gone to Colorado for a month and the bluebirds have been on their own. That isn’t a challenge for them; they are completely self-sufficient. Their morning feeding of mealworms is nothing more than treats that serve to bond them to this nest site and me.
No signs of another nesting, so it was three broods this year. The first brood produced four eggs, all hatched and fledged. Second brood consisted of four eggs, but only two hatched and those chicks fledged. The last brood in the heat of summer had only two eggs and both hatched and fledged. Three broods is always a successful season and the frosting on the cake is that we didn’t have a single case of mortality once a chick was hatched. This brings the total chicks fledged from this nest site to 57.
One of the last brood is still following Daddy around. That seems to be the drill. It’s the male that teaches them the survival skills young birds need to be self-sufficient. The birds haven’t been fed for a month and don’t have any nesting plans until next spring, but they still stop by a couple of times daily to check on their box.
A half-dozen HOSP’s appeared in the yard yesterday and a female was checking out the nestbox. The bluebirds arrived and Mama immediately chased off the sparrow. Daddy dive-bombed the others that were on a tray feeder and ran them out of the yard, but they immediately return. He just can’t keep up with all of them. Mama is giving a warning to a nearby sparrow in the upper photo. A necessary part of hosting backyard bluebirds is sparrow control. They will destroy eggs, kill chicks and even adult bluebirds if left unchecked. Please don’t put up a box in your backyard if you can’t deal with this threat. I don’t feed anything in the yard but black sunflower and while sparrows will eat it, it’s not their favorite food. They love millet and chicken scratch, so I don’t use these feeds. I opened the House Sparrow Hotel yesterday afternoon and by sundown three of the six HOSP’s had checked in as guests. On average I trap and euthanize about 60 annually. If I didn’t do this, there would definitely be some mortality on the bluebirds and they might even be driven from the nestbox.
Fall is a time of relaxation for the bluebirds, they molt and recover from the rigors of nest-building and raising young. Still lots of bugs, the temperature is mild and livin’ is easy on the reddirt hill.