February 7, 2017 at 3:01 pm #3116
Hello all…I’m new to this forum, but looking forward to learning more about this fascinating bird! Last summer was a very prosperous and active season for my bluebirds here in Virginia Beach, VA, however, with it came GRACKLES that really did a number on many of new babies. They typically arrive in the morning hours and taunt for a good 2 to 3 hours, sending me into a frenzy! Does anyone have any suggestions for how to prevent these menacing birds from harassing and wiping out my baby bluebirds? Do any of the wire predator guards prove to be effective?February 7, 2017 at 8:02 pm #3117dpurdueParticipant
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I’m not sure what you mean by a wire predator guard ?
Best way I know is to not have a perch on the house and make sure entrance hole is 1 1/2 inches in diameter
Trapping is an option but very labor intensive-effective though!
Sparrow trapping is slow right now so I have been focusing on trapping the starlings instead
You might try a sparrow-spooker-not sure if it works on starlings and you have to be careful about timing so you don’t spook the bluebirds
Lots of good info at sialis.org
Good luck 🍀
Darrell in KCFebruary 7, 2017 at 8:03 pm #3118
A grackle shouldn’t be able to reach nestlings. Is the entrance hole 1.5″ in diameter? How far from the bottom of the hole to the bottom of the box? That measurement would be important also. Are there seed feeders near the nestbox? They shouldn’t be anywhere nearby if you have birds like grackles around. Just like everybody else, they defend food sources.
Wire predator guards would give any harassing bird a good place to perch. I wouldn’t use one. I would make sure the entrance hole is the proper size for starters. That should keep big shoulders out and the nestlings out of reach if the next isn’t high in the box.
Have they actually robbed a nest in your box?
Atlanta, GAFebruary 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm #3119Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
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I, too, was wondering if these grackles (large blackbird-type birds) have actually harmed any baby blues. Like Gin says, they would not be able to get to them prior to fledging if the entrance hole is 1 1/2″in diameter and the bottom of the box is proper depth from hole, which I believe is at 5-6 inches. If the nest gets too close to entrance hole, predators can reach inside to grab babies. Also NO PERCH on the box. I have lots of grackles but have never noticed them harassing the blues, but then again, we don’t always see what is happening. Be sure to check out the Sialis.org website for great info. Good luck, and WELCOME to this forum!February 8, 2017 at 3:44 am #3120DanaParticipant
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Hi Kristi, welcome! Try installing a 3/4 wooden predator guard over the entrance hole. Then in the Spring and Summer after the bluebirds build their nest make sure the nest is not built up to the entrance hole. Remove an inch or two of the nesting material from the bottom of the nest. Hopefully this will make it difficult for the grackles to lean in the hole and snatch a baby. Hope this helps!
Lancaster, PAFebruary 8, 2017 at 11:47 am #3122David in Stafford,VAParticipant
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This shows the predator guard that Dana has mentioned. I have used both the 3/4″ and a 1″ guard with the i 1/2 inch opening and have not had any trouble with the starlings and grackles. I am also a pretty good marksman with a pellet rifle.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by David in Stafford,VA.
Stafford, VAFebruary 8, 2017 at 2:31 pm #3124
Hey everyone…thanks for the great info!!! Most appreciated! So here’s some more details regarding my situation. Trapping is not an option unfortunately due to time and effort (although my husband on occasion will monitor the situation with a bb gun but despite his good shot, no luck yet). I’m wondering if the depth of the box is what may be allowing those pesty birds to gain access. The dimensions from top to bottom of the box are 8 inches tall (front) x 9.25 inches tall (back), and the hole size diameter is 1 1/16 which is actually smaller that what most plans call for. No perch. Here’s a pic annotated with top and bottom measurements as show by yellow highlighted lines.February 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm #3125February 10, 2017 at 9:45 am #3127RiverParticipant
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The entry on the nestbox shown in your photo is too low – dangerously so. A completed nest in this box is going to be nearly level with the bottom of the entry hole, allowing any predator to easily reach anything in the nest. Another problem with this low entry location is that it’s more vulnerable to windswept rain than an entry placed up high, nearer the roof. I would make another door with the entry near the top of the box, or replace this box altogether.
As Gin pointed out, wire guards such as the Noel guard don’t work for avian predators. Those guards are primarily to stop cats and raccoons.
NestboxBuilderFebruary 13, 2017 at 9:58 am #3133
I think you’re 100% correct. I didn’t even consider the obvious! I have a new door in the works and it should be up and running next weekend. Thank you!!!February 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm #3134
After looking at your picture I noticed something else besides the entry hole. You really need to think about another way to mount that box. The way it is now you are asking for trouble from snakes, raccoons and ants.
Is the hole really 1 1/16? Not much gets in a hole that size except a house wren.
Atlanta, GAFebruary 13, 2017 at 7:50 pm #3138
Gin, correction on the hole measurement…it’s 1.5 inches. I’m not too concerned about the raccoons and snakes…our neighborhood is very open (new development) and I have never seen either those out in the open area. Although open, there is enough smaller trees and shrubbery near the house to where it’s been prolific for three years straight. Thanks again for your interest and reply!February 14, 2017 at 9:22 pm #3139
Raccoons usually don’t move around in daylight hours unless they are rabid so you wouldn’t see them. Snakes are silent of course and not always noticeable. Both are everywhere. Raccoons are even in cities. I just don’t want you to wake up to a tragedy one morning.
Do you have squirrels? They can climb and will rob nests. So will cats.
Atlanta, GAFebruary 14, 2017 at 9:47 pm #3141dpurdueParticipant
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If you have any bird seed on the ground the raccoons will find it eventually
Darrell in KCFebruary 17, 2017 at 8:29 pm #3152ReneeinWinslowParticipant
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You could install a wren guard on the box after the first egg is layed. That would probably help keep those grackles or starling away from the nest box hole.
When The New Wears Off The Old Shines Through.
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