Behavior Questions

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  • #3808
    Brad
    Participant
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    I’m brand new to this and have a couple of questions. I have several bluebirds around, as I can hear them now that I know what they sound like and I see them from time to time. I put up a new nestbox a week and a half or so. I’m in NC.

    1. I see males (or a male) sitting on top of my neighbors houses on both sides and one on the house next to theirs. They sit on top of the roof and sing for 5-20 minutes. What are they doing? Calling for a mate? I assume it isn’t hunting.

    2. Today I found a few pieces of pine straw and very small twigs in the box. Like 4 pieces. What does that mean, if anything, and what types of birds would it be? I haven’t seen anything go in myself.

    3. I’m feeding some dried mealworms. I put out a dish on the ground but the only things that touched it was ants. I keep putting several on the roof of the nest box and they have disappeared a few times now. What types of birds would be eating them? I have Robbins and Brown Thrashers hunting on the ground a lot but I’m not sure they would get them on top of the box.

    #3810
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    To answer your questions:

    1. He is calling a mate and defending territory. Males will find the highest spot in their territory and have at it.

    2. Pine straw sounds like EABL but the twigs sound like HOWR. Keep an eye on it! You don’t want to host HOWR because they just make more HOWR and that spells trouble for all of the other birds.

    3. Lots of birds like mealworms and most will feed them to chicks in the nest. A ground hunting bird is less likely to find a dish that is elevated like yours is, but it’s not impossible. It could be anybody who took those worms. The roof of a box is my least favorite place to put worms but you gotta work with what you have!

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #3820
    Lisa
    Participant
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    Thrashers LOVE mealworms and wait forever for mine to crawl out of the cage feeder!

    #3824
    Brad
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    I saw a small, slender, brown bird fly into the box yesterday and poke its head out and look around for a bit. I was 75 feet away and couldn’t get a look at what it was. It flew out of the evergreens about 10 feet from the box and flew back in there when it was done. I’m concerned my box isn’t in a good location for bluebirds now. Any input? Here’s what’s inside the box now, so there’s definitely activity going on.

    #3825
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
    Participant
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    Those look like twigs (small pieces of branches) to me, which means house wrens! Is the box where you saw some pine straw, because it is not there now, but there are sure more than 4 pieces of twigs. Blues would have grasses or pine needles in their box. Like others said, almost all birds love mealworms and could be eating them. Check out http://www.sialis.org for information on discoursing house wrens because they are a native bird & protected by law, but you can remove a “dummy” nest I believe. They will destroy bluebird (& other) eggs and/or toss babies out of the nest. Yes, your site may be the problem.

    #3826
    Brad
    Participant
    • Topics started 5
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    What can/should I do? Should I post pictures of the location and the other locations I have in my yard as potential spots? Should i open up the box and leave it open so whatever it is stops using it?

    I have one other good spot that seems good, except it is next to a fence and I fear predators would jump from the fence and bypass my predator guard.

    #3827
    Dene
    Participant
    • Topics started 19
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    Brad how did you post your photos here on site? I see no way except from another site?

    #3828
    Brad
    Participant
    • Topics started 5
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    I upload them to Imgur and copy the image url and put it here in the img tag.

    #3830
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    Please post yard pics if you would. That might help even though it can be hard to judge distances in a picture.

    You have a house wren in that box above. You can try leaving it open for a day or so but the bird will be back when you close it. This is probably on the way to being a dummy nest and it’s perfectly fine to remove it.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #3833
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
    Participant
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    Amen to Gin’s thoughts.

    #3835
    Brad
    Participant
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    I removed the twigs from the box. I haven’t seen a house wren around, but I know they can be sneaky and I’m still learning what birds are what, so I believe it. Do Carolina wrens attack bluebirds too? I know we have those around as well.

    I’ll take pictures of the areas that are possibilities when I get back on Sunday. Thanks a lot for the help!

    #3836
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    CARW are wonderful birds! You will enjoy them if you have them around.

    I wish there were no such thing as HOWR. I am so done with them.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #3840
    nhhawk6
    Participant
    • Topics started 15
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    I totally agree; Carolina Wrens are spectacular birds. I had a pair spend the winter, but I cannot find them now. They are beautiful, friendly, and musical I am hoping for them to come back and claim my second nest box. If not, I’ll take a pair of TRES, when they arrive in NH.

    Randy
    Bedford, New Hampshire

    #3841
    Brad
    Participant
    • Topics started 5
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    Maybe a bit of good news. No sticks have been placed back in the nest box after I removed them all. Is the nest box still at risk now since some bird (potentially a house wren) knows where it is?

    It’s raining today so I won’t be able to take pictures of the locations in the yard until it clears up.

    Is a box mounted not on a fence, but within a foot or 2 of it still a bad idea?

    I have another location that has some light branch cover from nearby trees and I thought that would be bad in allowing a snake or something else to drop down onto the box.

    #3842
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    2 foot from a fence is not enough space, as they say a snake can stretch himself I believe it is 8′ – of course, that would have to be a big snake. But I do believe 2′ would be too close. Glad to hear no more sticks in the box, but as we said, those wrens know the box & hole/nest is there now. And yes, the tree is also a place where they drop from. It is a jigsaw puzzle almost to find just the right spot, and only time & experience will tell the tale. We all do things wrong at first and learn from the mistakes. But the best reading information you can find I truly believe is on the http://www.sialis.org website. A briefer version is on this forum under “Bluebird Information” at the top of the page. I haven’t had Carolina wrens but hear from others here they are nice birds.

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