Box – something else to worry about!

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  • #8122
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    My blues are 11 days old today – removed the wren guard and then wanted to look inside at babies, and WHAT A MESS! Parents are not doing good job removing fecal sacks at all – but with 5 babies in a fairly small box (16 square inches), it would be hard. This is a Audubon style box and has a front opening, so I was able to scrape some mess off the door and then looked at the babies. They looked okay, but cannot see them too well, but no smell so believe they are all alive. Only about 6 days left before fledging, Keeping my finger, toes & eyes crossed they make it out okay. I did change out nests one year when something like this happened, but the babies were only 2 or 3 days old.

    #8123
    blue diamondsblue diamonds
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    Wow….I thought bluebirds were tidy. I have not experienced a messy nest yet. Good thing they only have six more days before fledging. Do you think maybe they are first time parents? Well wishes to you and your blues.

    Judy-Michigan

    #8126
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Thanks, Judy – no this pair have been with me several years (overwintering also) and are usually very tidy. I don’t usually have real good luck with 5 babies, and have determined this to be because of a smaller box size. The last Gilwood box we made has a 17 sq. inch floor, but they chose not to use it and used this Audubon box, which I have had very few nests in. Like I say, “Bluebirds do not read the rule books” – meaning they forgot about disposing of fecal sacks to be tidy!

    Any teachers in the crowd – need to know how to make students obey the rules!

    #8128
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    Carol, could it be an “age” thing? I believe that my BB pair have been with me for several years and I noticed the same thing that you did last year with the nests not being as tidy in the later days toward the fledging. I blame it on too may birds in too small of a space and mom or pop not having the space to get around the nest as much as the nestlings grow.

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #8129
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    David, never thought about the “ageing” thing – but this is also a possibility. (I have had several mamas but only about 3 papas in the past 13 seasons) But like you said, too many birds in too small a box is my pick on the problem. There is just not enough room to do this properly. I would much rather have 4 eggs/babies than 5. Hopefully this pair will choose my newer, bigger Gilwood box for the next nesting.

    #8140
    JulieJulie
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    Carol, one thought on this: I found last year that if I emptied the used nest out right away, the blues came back to that box. The past year I delayed (was out of town), so they set up the 2nd nest in a different box. Maybe if you don’t remove the nest from the Audubon box they’ll move to the Gilwood?? I have no rule book on this. I just noticed the pattern. Last year they made 3 nests in the same box–I emptied it within 2 days of fledging.

    #8141
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Julie, thank you – definitely something to think about. Yes, I always empty the old nest out of the box as soon as I am sure they are all gone – but my pair usually do choose a different box for their second nesting. But if I don’t clean it out OR just just close it up, they would have to go to a different box. I really don’t want to leave the dirty nest in it the rest of the summer. But I will keep a close eye on where they scout for the 2nd box. Hum . . . . . By the way, how many boxes do you have up? I do have 4 for them to choose from.

    #8142
    JulieJulie
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    Carol, my first year with blues was 3-4 years ago. (It took me 2 years to mentally prep myself to deal with HOSP!) I didn’t know when to empty out the nest after fledging, so didn’t do so until fall. The 2nd yr I had read more and did the quick empty. I’m still very much learning. I have 3 gilbertson boxes–2 in front about 15-20 feet apart (easy for me to monitor) and 1 in the way back (tougher to see from indoors). I started with the 2 in front at suggested spacing, then found bluebird nut and read Tammy’s advice on spacing and followed it. The blues often alternate their nestings in those boxes. I now think they’re too close, but I use the 2nd box more for a HOSP trap box. Chickadees often visit it, but never choose it. And the song sparrow who “owns” the front flower bed likes to sit on it and sing, so that’s good, too.

    I put up 2 TRES boxes last year b/c they were trying to use the Gilberston, which is too small (read that online). There were epic aerial dogfights between them and the blues, which distressed me! So I added those 2 TRES boxes. They seem to prefer the slot box.

    #8149
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Julie, sounds like you have done your homework – good for you! Plus, there are certain little things you will learn along the way. I especially truly believe in having an extra box or two to keep the HOSP and/or wrens (IF there are in your area) busy while there is a bluebird nest somewhere else. Today I noticed a pair of HOSP at one of my blues’ favorite sites, so will be setting the trap today or tomorrow and should catch one or both of them. My baby blues are due to fledge probably tomorrow, so I will need to rid these HOSP in case the bluebirds decide to nest in this newer, slightly larger box.
    Good you have TRES boxes set up – had some 3 different times but have not been around for some time now.

    #8151
    JulieJulie
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    Carol, I stumbled onto the 2nd box for trapping idea purely by accident. This year I even trapped 2 male HOSP during Feb. as they were laying claim to one of the boxes!! I had to slog out in my winter coat and snow boots to get them out of the box, but boy, it was worth it! Two fewer HOSP is always great. I’ve noticed new HOSP babies around this week, so I’ll get my DRST out again. I had it out late last fall and again this spring and caught nothing! Not even a wrong bird! So I packed it up. I told myself I’d get it out when there are young babies to catch. If they go in, it seems their moms go in, too. And then the males take notice. Ha–that’s my plan to take over the HOSP population!! Hope you catch yours!! They are terrible.

    Hope you get to see the blues fledge! I spotted it last year purely by chance. What fun!! Enjoy!! Btw I finally got to look at the blue nest yesterday–Mama Blue flew out at last! 4 eggs. So exciting!

    #8152
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Yes, this extra box idea works like a charm – had a pair of HOSP today on a box I been watching early this morning, so I set the trap and had the male in a matter of 20 minutes.

    Been watching my blues’ box pretty good today – did not see any peeking yet, but they are due to fledge tomorrow so hope they don’t wait too long in this nasty box.

    #8160
    JulieJulie
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    Carol, did they fledge today? Also, how do you clean your boxes? I am always looking for tips. Thank you!

    #8161
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    No fledging yet, Julie – hopefully tomorrow (18 days). To clean out my box I just take nest out, scrape out anything stuck with something and then wash it out with a hose. We used to put do this and then put it in a 5-gallon bucket (of course had to take box off the post for this) of water with just a very small amount of bleach, rinse it good with plain water, and then let it dry out. But we all came to the conclusion this is not really needed unless there were ants or mites, etc. Good luck with yours fledging successfully.

    #8170
    ReneeinWinslowReneeinWinslow
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    My blues fledged yesterday and the nest was a mess. Up the walls and the nest its self looked like someone had a poop smearing party. I chuck it up to the fact that this year has been much cooler and rainy compared to the past several years. I think the parents had to spend more time trying to find food than worry about keeping a tidy nest.

    When The New Wears Off The Old Shines Through.

    #8173
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Renee, believe you might be right about parents finding food instead of being tidy this year! My blues fledged on Wednesday and been watching parents take mealworms up to them in the trees – fun!

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