question about eastern bluebird nesting behavior….male in particular

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  • #1828
    Lyndsey D.
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    Hi everyone, thank you in advance for reading and responding! So my male and female eastern bluebird pair are working on their second nest this spring as the nest building began this morning. My question is about the male bluebird’s behavior…the female brings nest material to the Nestbox and when she leaves she is communicating something to her male by fluttering her wings and chattering to him at their perch site and sometimes from the top of the Nestbox as if she wants him to go inside, so he does. When he comes out of the Nestbox he sometimes has some of the nest material that she has brought in. Why is he removing this nest material? The female then leaves and brings more material and he escorts her back to the Nestbox by first looking inside then letting her go in with the straw or pine needles, and the process repeats. He doesn’t remove nest material every time, but he does it often enough for me to wonder if she will ever finish building the nest. I have read where this behavior has been observed when a different female is trying to build in their Nestbox, but these are definitely a mating pair. It may also be worth mentioning that I observed the same behavior when they built their first nest in the Nestbox earlier this spring and they had five eggs and five babies successfully fledge.

    #1829
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    What can I say, Lyndsey, other than they just cannot make up their minds sometimes! Last year & year before that my pair built THREE entire nests (in different boxes) before choosing one to lay eggs in – drove me crazy. He is supposed to choose the box site, and she HAS to agree/like it (just like all females) or she will want to go elsewhere. The fluttering of wings is called “wing-waving” and is definitely part of the courtship process. As far as the male removing nesting material, sometimes maybe a young/new female just does not know exactly what she should be putting in the nest? Maybe he doesn’t like her “furnishings” and is telling her to do better. I don’t really know, since I don’t believe I have seen my male remove any nest material. Isn’t it fun trying to figure them out!! Congrats on the successful fledging of 1st nest. My pair were VERY late this year – had 5 eggs laid in mid-April – something happened to mama so they were no good. Papa found different mate & now they have 5 eggs being incubated.

    #1831
    Lyndsey D.
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    Carol,
    Thanks for your response, it kind of does appear that the male doesn’t like her furnishings, lol, she doesn’t seem bothered by him removing the material.
    I’m sorry to hear about your first nesting attempt, I would be devastated. It is amazing at how much we can worry about nature. This is the first year I put a Nestbox up because last summer we had 10 resident bluebirds. I am completely obsessed with these birds already. For the first two weeks I did not see the fledglings, but over the last week or so I have been seeing them regularly due to them staying close to the pair that are starting a second nest. This morning I was shocked to see 21, yes 21, young bluebirds on the high line near my house accompanied by 3 pair of adult male and females (1 pair being “my” pair). It is just amazing to me that so many are doing so well this spring. Maybe that’s normal, I’ve just never seen that many at a time. Anyway, thanks for listening, I just had to share that with someone who could appreciate it, I’m driving my husband crazy with talking about these bluebirds so much, ;)

    #1832
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Lyndsey, been there-done that! (Obsession & driving hubby crazy) Nine seasons ago was my first at even seeing a bluebird & that very 1st year of putting up 2 boxes I had a pair almost immediately. For 6 seasons after that I had 3 nestings each year from same male & about 3 females. My new pair, I believe to be offspring of that male, only have been having 2 broods per year. Amazing at how many blues you are seeing. Have fun & good luck.

    #1835
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
    • Topics started 5
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    Lindsey, I agree with Carol. Apparently this bird is extremely opinionated but perfectly normal. We’ll have to wait and see what other opinions he expresses.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #1847
    Lyndsey D.
    Participant
    • Topics started 3
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    Thank you guys for responding/reassuring me! It is nice to have a great forum such as this, I just wish I would have seen it a little earlier, lol, might have saved me some worrying. I doubt it though, I’m sure I’ll always worry about these little guys. Like today for instance, I saw the first house sparrow. I’m so disappointed as I saw zero for their first nesting this spring. I immediately ordered a sparrow trap online, I’m just hoping it’s not too late. The bluebirds seem very aware and bothered by this bird. They do succeed at running it off but only temporarily. Hopefully the trap will work and not be too late. Any suggestions on the setup? I ordered the trap from Uncle Blaines sparrow traps, hopefully it’s a great one. It seemed to be and was recommended by Sialis.

    #1850
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Lyndsey, do you have another box to put this trap in? I would not put it in the box where your blues are trying to build a nest, as you would probably catch one of the blues. It is very helpful to have 1 or even 2 extra boxes to trap these HOSP in – keeps them busy at a different box than where the blues have a nest. After the HOSP finds a mate and they just have the starting of a nest is the time to catch them. If the blues ever finish their nest & lay an egg, this is the time to put up the sparrow spooker, which is a good deterrent for HOSP, but not always 100% effective. The Sialis website has good info on this.

    #1851
    Lyndsey D.
    Participant
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    Carol,
    The trap I bought isn’t a ‘Nestbox’ trap, I didn’t buy that type because I was scared it would catch the bluebirds. It is a cage style trap that hold multiple birds and is pole mounted or it said you could put it on the ground or on a picnic table. You are supposed to bait it and it said a decoy would help. The trap had great reviews, I just have never had to deal with sparrows before so I don’t know much about trapping them. Thank you for all of your responses, I really appreciate you taking the time to give me much needed advice.

    #1852
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
    • Topics started 5
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    You need a spooker on this box the day she lays the first egg and you can make it yourself. http://www.sialis.org/sparrowspooker.htm

    An inbox trap is almost necessary to catch a bait bird for your repeating trap. You should put it in another box nearby.
    http://www.vanerttraps.com/products.htm

    As far as using your DRST, we have a thread going that is devoted to that. Have you looked at it? It’s stickied at or near the top of the main forum page.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #1859
    Lyndsey D.
    Participant
    • Topics started 3
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    Dogsandbirds,

    Thank you for the info, I do have a sparrow spooker, but she has not laid her first egg yet. And I had no idea I needed an in box trap for the sparrows. Thank you for the information and links!!

    #1907
    Love my blues!
    Participant
    • Topics started 9
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    Hi all-

    Congrats on a 2nd nest, Lyndsey! You are so lucky to have so many bluebirds around! My pair just completed their 2nd nest today. So excited! The 1st six fledged 2 1/2 weeks ago & just started to come to feeder & fountain exactly 2 weeks later. Love watching them! One was having a good time taking a bath & they also get in the feeder to eat instead of perched on side like adults do. So cute & can’t wait for the next round (although a nervous wreck at the same time)! Hope your 2nd goes well, Lyndsay!

    Nicole :BlueHover:

    #1908
    Love my blues!
    Participant
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    Oops, sorry just misspelled your name, Lyndsey.

    Nicole

    #1919
    Lyndsey D.
    Participant
    • Topics started 3
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    Nicole,

    Thank you and also congratulations on your second nest! 6 babies from the first nest, how awesome! My baby bluebirds did the exact same thing… Started coming to the feeder and fountain exactly two weeks after they fledged. I was hoping they would return so I would know they were all ok. I was hoping the parents would return to start a second nest, so I would know they felt safe enough in my yard to do it all over again. I know that may sound crazy, but I’m sure a lot of us on here have felt that way at some point. Today the female laid her second egg. They are just the perfect example of love and family. It warms my heart to watch them interact with each other.

    #1933
    tamsea
    Moderator
    • Topics started 26
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    Lindsey, I love that trap!! Put it under wherever your HOSP is perching; near your feeders, next to a fence, near favorite shrubs etc. It works better when you have a decoy in it. Are you using millet/mixed seed to trap. They prefer white millet. But others have luck with bread,popcorn, etc. Sprinkle seed on liberally on the bait area #3 and then on the landing pad #3 and #6 area. Also sprinkle a little on the ground around the trap to first get them interested. So, like the others I would recommend that you purchase a cheap box ($9.99 at Lowes) and put a Van Ert trap in it. That’s how you get your decoy for your repeater trap. Your bluebirds will be interested in it though so set your timer and check on it every couple of hours. Never leave the house with it set.

    Tammy

    #1939
    Lyndsey D.
    Participant
    • Topics started 3
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    Tammy,

    Great info, thanks so much! I do have white millet that I purchased just for this trap. I also have another Nestbox that isn’t in use so I am waiting on the Van Ert trap that I ordered after it was recommended to arrive. I do have to say though that the two house sparrows that I was seeing daily near the bluebird Nestbox have not been seen for at least four days now. Is it possible that they moved on and found another nest site? The bluebirds put up quite a protest when they were around and I do spend a lot of time watching the bluebirds so I think I would have seen them if they were still coming. Should I bait the trap anyway?

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