Bluebird/Tree Swallow competition

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  • #4137
    verachuckdave
    Participant
    • Topics started 23
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    Ok. . .Here is a timeline of my spring. . .
    -I put up a new bluebird house way out in my yard last fall because I was educated about not having my bluebird house on a fence near my house.
    -I had bluebirds and fledglings all winter who visited a feeder for dry meal worms and used my birdbath for drinks.
    -A bluebird couple claimed the house and started to build a nest at the end of March.
    -Tree swallows were also hanging around and the birds seemed to be fighting for the house, so I went to the wild bird store and bought a tree swallow house with a 5.5 inch base and paired it with the bluebird house on the same pole.
    -Suddenly a pair of house sparrows showed up and chased my bluebird couple away. The HOSPS were relentless, and I was clearing sparrow nests out of the bluebird house for about a week. (I tried the rubber snake trick, but it didn’t work). Finally, I shot the male HOSP with a BB gun and the female disappeared. That was about 2 weeks ago. Since then, no birds have shown interest in the bluebird house.
    -The tree swallows started building a nest in the new swallow house. I didn’t see any HOSPS or bluebirds for 2 weeks.
    -Yesterday the bluebird couple returned and took the tree swallow’s house and nest. They have no interest in the original house. The tree swallows sit on the fence and watch as the bluebirds add to their nest.
    -Now I have a bluebird couple and a tree swallow couple fighting for the tree swallow house while the bluebird house sits empty.
    ANY SUGGESTIONS??? Thank you in advance!!
    ~Susan

    Susan
    Pennsylvania

    #4138
    nhhawk6nhhawk6
    Participant
    • Topics started 15
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    • Total Posts 218

    Hi, Susan! I would separate the nest boxes a bit. Move the empty EABL box some distance away from the TRES box that the blues now occupy… pick a number of feet… 5, 10 30, 100… I don’t think it really matters. The TRES should be fine with it, once it is off the same pole as the other occupied nest box. IMO, the pairing of boxes becomes infinitely easier once someone lays an egg, somewhere. Once an egg is laid, the nesting pair is committed to that nest box, and will be less likely to “trade up”, if you will…

    Randy
    Bedford, New Hampshire

    #4168
    ReneeinWinslowReneeinWinslow
    Participant
    • Topics started 24
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    • Total Posts 83

    I have had tres and bb nesting peacefully several times. The boxes are not the same type with the one for the tres being larger in size and are about 15′ apart facing the same direction. They seem to get along fine that way.

    When The New Wears Off The Old Shines Through.

    #4236
    verachuckdave
    Participant
    • Topics started 23
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    • Total Posts 207

    Thank you for the advice!

    Susan
    Pennsylvania

    #4249
    tamsea
    Moderator
    • Topics started 26
    • Replies 699
    • Total Posts 725

    I know that “they” say that you can pair boxes and get two species but I find that isn’t the case. Matter of fact even 10 feet apart doesn’t work well. I find that one box always stay empty. So put them farther apart.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by tamsea.

    Tammy

    #4295
    DanaDana
    Participant
    • Topics started 39
    • Replies 154
    • Total Posts 193

    Hi Susan,
    Sorry to hear my rubber snake trick didn’t work for ya. It did for me that one time when I had problems with the HOSPS but I guess it was just luck. Like I said it’s not something I recommend anyway as it could potentially scare the bluebirds away as well if it were to work.

    Regards!

    #4599
    verachuckdave
    Participant
    • Topics started 23
    • Replies 184
    • Total Posts 207

    Hello! A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I had paired a bluebird house with a tree swallow house on the same pole. Several of you suggested that I separate the boxes on separate poles because the birds seemed to both want the sparrow house. Well, I wasn’t able to get to the store for a second post for a few days, and low and behold, the birds decided to coexist after all! The bluebirds took over the bigger tree swallow house, and the tree swallows settled for my old bluebird house. The houses are posted on the same pole with one facing east and the other facing north. Currently, my bluebirds have at least four nestlings. I had looked in the box a little over a week ago and saw 5 eggs. When I checked the house yesterday, I could only see 4 babies, but it’s possible that the fifth just had its head down. The swallow nest also has babies, but that house sits higher on the post, and it is hard for me to see inside the nest. The male swallow and bluebird occasionally get “testy” with one another, but overall they are doing very well. I put a sparrow spooker on the bluebird house as soon as the eggs were laid, and both sets of birds were not happy with me for a while, but they got over it and have been working diligently to take care of their babies. I haven’t seen HOSPS near the houses, but we do have some around. The swallows guard those houses 24-7, so I hope they help to keep the HOSPS away from the bluebird babies! Wish me luck with all of these little ones. :-)

    Susan
    Pennsylvania

    #4600
    nhhawk6nhhawk6
    Participant
    • Topics started 15
    • Replies 203
    • Total Posts 218

    Congratulations, Susan! I am very happy for you! Just goes to show you that I have no idea what I am talking about! Or as my wife often reminds me, I know less, about more, than anyone else in the world…

    Randy
    Bedford, New Hampshire

    #4601
    verachuckdave
    Participant
    • Topics started 23
    • Replies 184
    • Total Posts 207

    Thank you so much! I am very excited to have two sets of birds to watch. They are both so beautiful. I am sure that you know a lot more about the birds than I do. I think I just got lucky this time. :-)

    Susan
    Pennsylvania

    #4607
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
    • Topics started 5
    • Replies 655
    • Total Posts 660

    Congrats, Susan!

    Randy, I would like to meet your wife. :BagOverHead:

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #4610
    nhhawk6nhhawk6
    Participant
    • Topics started 15
    • Replies 203
    • Total Posts 218

    Gin,

    There is actually a waiting list to join the legion of folks who believe that I am the village idiot… I am not certain my wife is still interviewing, at this point. :)

    If any spots open up, I’ll let you know…

    Randy
    Bedford, New Hampshire

    #4642
    tamsea
    Moderator
    • Topics started 26
    • Replies 699
    • Total Posts 725

    yay, Susan! You lucked out on this! I’ve had a trail of bluebird boxes for several years and most all of the boxes are paired with another box that is about 10 feet away and only occasionally do I get nesters in both.

    Tammy

    #4649
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
    • Topics started 5
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    • Total Posts 660

    Randy, I totally enjoy your humor. I don’t know what I would do without you around here.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #4650
    nhhawk6nhhawk6
    Participant
    • Topics started 15
    • Replies 203
    • Total Posts 218

    Thank you, Gin. You are very kind. I enjoy both the art and science of bluebirding, and I certainly enjoy being here. Thank you for having me!

    Randy
    Bedford, New Hampshire

    #4698
    verachuckdave
    Participant
    • Topics started 23
    • Replies 184
    • Total Posts 207

    I know you are right! I have heard that my situation is rare, but let me tell you, it is incredible. I can hardly tear myself away from just sitting on the deck and watching these amazing birds. The mama and papa blue work tirelessly all day to feed 5 babies, and right there on the same pole are the tree swallows. They have a “tag team” system. The mother flies in the house and feeds the babies, then she sticks her head way out of the hole and waits for the male. He flies up and hovers in front of the hole. She leaves, and he flies in. They go back and forth like that all day! If I take my chihuahuas out into the yard, the swallows come over and dive-bomb us for a while, and then they go back to work. Both sets of birds are just wonderful to watch. They have definitely helped each other when it comes to keeping HOSPS away. Unfortunately, the farmers who have acreage behind my house decided to plant corn this year. We always have more sparrows when the farmers plant corn. For now, the swallows and the sparrow spooker have been doing a great job of keeping sparrows away. To be honest, I don’t really know what to expect once the two sets of birds fledge. I read that tree swallows only have one brood a season.

    Susan
    Pennsylvania

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