Hosting bluebirds has its ups and downs. The past few days have been a low spot. We spent last week in Taos, NM. As soon as we returned home I saw a male House Sparrow sitting on the box. The bluebirds just fledged their second brood, so I knew they wouldn’t be using the box. I walked out to remove any nesting material the sparrows might have put into the box, but when I opened it I found Daddy’s corpse.
In almost a decade of hosting this box, this is the first death from a sparrow. I trap and euthanize dozens annually and hadn’t seen any around when I left town. I followed protocol by removing the Sparrow Spooker when I cleaned out the box after fledging. Now I wish I’d left it on. Mama is used to it and it does keep the sparrows away.
I always caution people who haven’t hosted bluebirds not to lure them into suburban yards unless they can deal with HOSP’s. Otherwise they are just erecting a death trap. While we mourn the loss of a beloved little feathered friend, as a conservationist I realize that one has to view species populations as a whole and not get hung up on a single bird or a black swan event. But, bluebird deaths from HOSP’s are not black swan events. Still I take solace in the totality of our hosting efforts. We’ve put 95 new bluebirds on this red dirt hill and only lost one to a HOSP. That’s a pretty good record.
This morning Carolyn called out there is a male bluebird in the yard. I walked out and called Daddy’s name, asked if he wanted worms and he flew to the feeder. I then was sure this is Daddy. He flew off and returned a few minutes later with the four fledglings from our last brood. He Picked up worms and fed all the young’uns.
I am rethinking the corpse I found in the box. I snapped a phone pic and it still looks like a male bluebird, although somewhat decomposed. Problem– Mama is missing. I’m thinking she must have been the casualty in the box. Hopefully Daddy will find a new mate and bring her to our box. He is very bonded to the site and to me and his mealworm breakfasts.
The cocky little male sparrow that had (past tense) laid claim to the nestbox has been removed. He is just too much a threat to Daddy and the fledglings to have in the yard. I trap and euthanize about 60 HOSP’s annually. An unpleasant, but necessary aspect of hosting bluebirds.
Total bluebirds fledged from this site in 95.