Bluebird questions?

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  • #3048
    zurichman
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    So I put a bluebird box up about 4-5 years ago. I live in rural Pa. in the woods. Within a week a Bluebird family had moved in. A wren family tried moving in that first season and they sent them packing. The bluebirds the first season had 2 hatchings. I have read that you are to clean out the box after the end of the season. I have never done that. If I do that in Feb. do I let them build their own nest again or do I help them by providing the material garden centers use in flowers to keep them moist? I have also tried getting them to eat meal worms the live ones and the dead ones from stores with no luck. I did buy one of those boxes that you could put them in and put it close to their box with no luck either. I tried putting it in a aluminum pan next to their box also. Any suggestions on how I can get them to eat meal worms. They have never left even during our cold winters here in Pa. Any suggestions or help would be gladly aporecaited….Larry

    #3049
    dpurdue
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    That’s very odd that they won’t eat meal worms!
    Are they visible in the tray?
    Sometimes there may be to much of the sawdust and maybe they aren’t visible
    Only thing I can think of !?
    You might try some peanut butter suet instead
    If you make your own you can mix dried worms right in
    Good luck
    Darrell

    #3051
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Zurichman – 1st of all WELCOME! The forum is slow this time of year, but nesting season will soon be here. Yes, you definitely need to clean out the nestbox after fledging occurs, and the blues will then build a new nest without any human help. If they build on top of old nest, it will put it dangerously close to the hole entrance, which means that predators can reach in and grab babies/eggs out of the nest. You mention you live “in the woods” – are these woods really close to your house and birdhouses – bluebirds do not usually like a woody/brushy environment (this is what wrens like). But as the old saying goes, “whatever works” . . . . keep doing it. As far as the mealworms go, it does take them a little time to get used to eating them, but as everyone will tell you, once they get a taste, they are hooked! Usually putting the worms in a container (something slick they cannot crawl out of) fairly close (up off the ground of course) to their house for a day or so, and once they begin eating them, you NEED to gradually move it away from the box into its final place to avoid drawing predators. It takes patience but is well worth it – they definitely prefer the live worms, but of course in the winter they will freeze if they do not eat them up quickly. This is why I switch to peanut butter suet in the wintertime – I feed them (usually 6-8 blues) every morning & sometimes in the afternoon if weather is bad.

    #3053
    zurichman
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    My woods probably aren’t brushy. The box is about 50 feet from my kitchen picture window so yes it was kind of comical watching them sending the wrens packing the 1st year. When is the best time now to clean out the box? I will try the peanut butter suet. How close can the boxes be to each other in the woods? What are their predators? Thanks for all the help. I know with them around and some bats hovering over my garden at night I have very few mosquitoes around in the summer. I will check the height on my box but if it’s below 5 ft. should I move it up?

    #3057
    tamsea
    Moderator
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    Sorry if I repeat anything that was already said. I just skimmed everyone’s posts.
    Yes, remove nests after it’s used. It’s best for the bluebirds. Gets rid of any critters living inside and also keeps the nest low in the box. And the bluebirds seem to prefer to make a new nest at least at my house. No need to supply nesting material. Although sometimes purple Martin landlords sprinkle pinestraw on the ground in case they want to use it. (White soft pine needles)
    Like Carol said, put the mealworms in a white or clear glass or smooth plastic small container. Not a large bowl. Something with shorter sides. A glass pie plate might work.put it where they can look down on it. Put it close to where they perch. Use live ones at first so they can see them moving around. It takes a while. You have to be consistent and patient. Then once they find them…move them gradually wherever you want to feed them. Mine is near my back door. After they get hooked you can try the rehydrated ones.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by tamsea.

    Tammy

    #3059
    zurichman
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    So it’s not too cold here in the dead of winter to remove the nest. I had read something about doing this in Feb. so should I do it now…….Thanks for any and all info.

    #3060
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Larry go ahead & remove the old nests now if weather permits, as they begin scouting in late January and February. Also you really NEED to move the box higher than 3′ from the ground – this is dangerously low & makes it easy for predators to have a meal (by jumping/climbing the pole). You may have to wait until warmer weather if the ground is frozen. You may get by, but you wouldn’t want anything to get to your bluebird eggs or babies. Look at the top of this page under Bluebird Information-Housing, and about 2 lines down tells about box height.
    Also a baffle under the house is a good idea.

    #3061
    zurichman
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    Carol I am not sure what you mean by them scouting in Late Jan. and Feb. as my bluebirds stay in the box year around. I will check the box height though and if it’s below 5 feet will move it up. tks

    #3062
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Scouting means birds are looking for a place to nest & raise young when the time is right. I didn’t realize your blues were roosting in your box – probably means they will use that box for nesting, also, but other birds do try to take over when the season is here. If you are sure it is blues roosting and now HOSP or something else, that might make a difference on when to remove the nesting material, as they be using it for extra warmth and you could wait until later on to remove it. My blues stay here all winter & eat every day, but they do not roost in their boxes but the HOSP will try to. I usually then trap them. Predators are many, but include coons, snakes, cats (anything that can climb), along with wasps and of course their main predators are the house sparrows (HOSP) and starlings. House wrens will pierce eggs & throw them out on the ground, but are a protected by law species. I’m not sure about how far apart in the woods your boxes would need to be, but normally blues boxes need to be about 300′ apart, as they are very territorial. If you have not tried the sialis.org website, do so – it is like our bible for birding. It is VERY thorough, so it may take you all winter to get through it. Bet Zimmerman Smith is the author of this website, and is on the Board of Directors of the North American Bluebird Society (NABS). Check it out.

    #3063
    zurichman
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    Well I for sure don’t know much about bluebirds. What I do know is that the bluebirds showed up within 1-2 weeks after the box was set up. I don’t know much history about my bluebirds other than they must have been to a bluebird boot camp somewhere. The very first season a wren family tried taking over the box and they sent them packing. They have resided in the box ever since. What would be a good guess on your part as to when to clean the nest box out since they need it for winter warmth. I know the very first season they had 2 hatchlings. I guess my question is where do the babies end up going every year that they hatch out. Somewhat clueless in Newburg Pa. :BlueBirds-baby3:

    #3068
    David in Stafford,VA
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    I have a “woodsy” area around my house also. The bluebirds nest in the box and seem to find an endless supply of grubs and insects in the natural surroundings. I tried to feed the mealworms also but I stopped when (1) the didn’t take any from the feeder and (2) they seemed to do well on their own feeding the 2 or 3 broods of 5 hatchlings and themselves each year.

    As the others have said – do clean the box now. It is better to clean in now while we have a bit of mild weather while they are roosting. Even if it takes a day or 2 for the box to dry out they will return. You are not evicting them forever. Nature has way of keeping them healthy.

    David

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #3078
    dpurdue
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    I recommend sialis.com
    Tons of good information on every phase
    of bluebirding
    I think blues only use boxes for nesting so once the babies fledge they don’t need it anymore
    Sialis can tell you for sure
    Good Luck 🍀
    Darrell in KC

    #3081
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Larry & Darrell – I believe the site is http://www.sialis.org. Fantastic site & good winter reading!

    #3082
    Dana
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    Zurichman,…what Carol said. Her advice and information is invaluable when it comes to bluebirds. — Dana

    #3278
    Dale
    Participant
    • Topics started 1
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    • Total Posts 13

    Hi,

    Can anyone tell me if Bluebirds will nest or mind having a house 9 feet hi on a pole?

    Thanks

    Dale

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