There is not a lot going on with the bluebirds in winter, so I don’t post much. But, as winter winds down, thought I’d post an update. Carolyn and I were gone to South Padre for the month of January, so the bluebirds got no free mealworm breakfasts. They don’t need them; they are completely self-sufficient. The worms are just treats to bond them to the site and me.
We had a little drama this week. It was a warm sunny day and I saw the bluebirds fly into the yard to check out the box. Daddy landed on top and kept leaning over, peering at the entrance. Then he flew down as if to enter, but seemed reluctant, hovering at the hole. Then I saw a House Sparrow head pecking at him from inside. The young male sparrow, flew out and attacked Daddy, winning the battle.
The bluebirds sat in a nearby tree raising a ruckus, but were reluctant to attack this aggressive young bird that had defiantly staked out the nestbox as his. I always caution prospective bluebird hosts to have a sparrow control plan in effect prior to erecting a backyard box. Luring bluebirds into House Sparrow territory without protection is a death sentence for the bluebirds.
I use only black sunflower seed, which is not a sparrow favorite, although they will eat it. I also have a repeating sparrow trap that I put out if sparrows accumulate in the back yard and attach a Sparrow Spooker to the box after the first egg is laid. But after watching this aggressive young HOSP chase off the bluebirds, more immediate action was needed. I had no doubt that if he caught one of the bluebirds in the box, he would kill it. So I went sniper. Immediate threat terminated. This is the last photo of this bird. We had five hanging around a feeder, so I put out the trap and immediately got two and of course the third was KIA. I don’t like to keep the trap out in winter because the juncos are constantly getting trapped. They are unharmed and I monitor the trap and release them.
It won’t be long until the bluebirds start thinking about nesting. Last year, they started some false nest building in late March. It’s a good time to put up a nestbox if you don’t have one, or clean out last year’s nests if you haven’t. Bluebird pairs will be actively looking for a nest site during March.