Grackles Wreaked Havoc Last Year!

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by ReneeinWinslow ReneeinWinslow 3 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #3116
    Kristi McFadden
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    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?

    #3117
    dpurdue
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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 KC

    #3118
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    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?

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #3119
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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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!

    #3120
    Dana
    Participant
    • Topics started 33
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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!

    Dana,
    Lancaster, PA

    Dana
    Lancaster, PA

    #3122
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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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.

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #3124
    Kristi McFadden
    Participant
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    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. Bluebird House

    #3125
    Kristi McFadden
    Participant
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    https://goo.gl/photos/znxEUzBSiTstGwAi8

    #3127
    River
    Participant
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    Kristi,

    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.

    Fred
    Waleska, GA
    NestboxBuilder

    #3133
    Kristi McFadden
    Participant
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    Fred,

    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!!!

    #3134
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    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.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #3138
    Kristi McFadden
    Participant
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    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!

    #3139
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    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.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #3141
    dpurdue
    Participant
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    I agree
    If you have any bird seed on the ground the raccoons will find it eventually
    Darrell in KC

    #3152
    ReneeinWinslowReneeinWinslow
    Participant
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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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