Success with moving a nestbox that has chicks inside?

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  • #4779
    JHWF
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    A unique situation unfolding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming . . . flooding is occurring in our area due to fast melting, high altitude snow. Historic flood levels not witnessed in decades. On a Mountain Bluebird trail of 110-nestboxes, several up north have been underwater for weeks, but fortunately those boxes were empty. However, one box has managed to stay just above the flood waters and it has 4 hatchlings inside that will be ready to fledge in a few days. If they fledge into water they will inevitably die. Has anyone had success with moving a nestbox with chicks inside? We might try to move the box about 75 yards south down the line to dry land. Chicks still need tending to by parents so the hope would be that the disturbance wouldn’t cause them to abandon chicks once nextbox is moved to a nearby location. Our other option is to let nature take it’s course, although that feels a bit tough since we’re responsible for putting up an artificial nesting cavity. Again, this level of flooding is historic so we couldn’t have predicted this scenario.

    Thoughts?

    Nature Mapping Jackson Hole

    #4783
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Wow, what a tough situation! Don’t have experience with Mountain BB but I imagine same principles apply. Yes, I have one time moved chicks to a different box in 2015. Mine were 9 days old, several days away from fledging. The box had gotten damp & was moldy & fecal sacs were not being removed. With help from this forum I did it, but was very scary. I actually had the new nest & everything completely ready before starting, so as not to interrupt incubation too long. I actually put the new nest into a different box because of the mess, took the babies out & gently put them into something covered (like shoe box or something). Then attached the new box to the current pole & gently put them back into the new nest. Your situation is little different – you probably can just take the current box & nest off the pole & then attach it to a new pole and location, after removing the babies of course. I agree with you, it probably needs to be done or they would be doomed to land in the water, unless there are lots or trees close by. Good luck & keep us informed. Welcome!

    #4784
    dlibby
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    how will the parents know where to find them? Do they have to be right there and somehow follow?

    #4785
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Dibby, wow, I hadn’t thought about that!! JHWF – that is a VERY huge, important question. If you were just moving it 25 or 50 feet is one thing, but 75 yards would be very difficult for them to find. They would need to see you do this or else move it a small amount at a time. This might be impossible if they are due to fledge very quickly. What a problem – OTHERS, PLEASE CHIME IN HERE – HE(she) NEEDS HELP! If there are not enough trees there for them to fly to, is it possible to put up some sort of artificial landing areas for them? This is so sad.

    #4786
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Dibby, wow, I hadn’t thought about that!! JHWF – that is a VERY huge, important question. If you were just moving it 25 or 50 feet is one thing, but 75 yards would be very difficult for them to find. They would need to see you do this or else move it a small amount at a time. This might be impossible if they are due to fledge very quickly. What a problem – OTHERS, PLEASE CHIME IN HERE – HE(she) NEEDS HELP! If there are not enough trees there for them to fly to, is it possible to put up some sort of artificial landing areas for them? This is so sad.

    #4787
    JHWF
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    Thank you for your quick replies Carol-Mid-Mo. and dlibby! I think we’re going to attempt to move the box to over dry land tomorrow afternoon. Mom and Dad are typically right onsite so that is our hope for when in the process of changing the boxes location. We want the parents to see everything. Will report back and let you all know the outcome of this special mission!

    Nature Mapping Jackson Hole

    #4788
    dogsandbirds
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    Sorry I have been gone all day. One very important thing, besides being sure the adults are watching, is to cover the entrance hole since they are so close to fledging. You don’t want to lose them with an early fledge that could easily happen during the move.

    Depending on how the box is mounted to the pole, you may be able to remove it and then attach it to a new pole. That is the ideal thing with older chicks. Taking them out of the box is extremely risky at this point.

    Good luck and I look forward to your report.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #4789
    dogsandbirds
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    Forgot one thing. If you should have somebody fledge and I hope that would only happen when you reach dry ground, put him back in and reduce the hole by 1/2 inch. Leave it there for a few days. The adults will still be able to feed whoever goes up to the hole. Housekeeping will suffer but there are worse things.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

    #4803
    Lisa
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    What a great group here. I have no idea but it’s heartwarming to see everyone chime in.

    #4804
    Lisa
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    Praying it all works out!

    #4826
    tamsea
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    Yikes. 75 yards is a huge move. I don’t know how they will find it. Too bad you don’t have the time to do a gradual move. Keep us posted.

    Tammy

    #4951
    JHWF
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    Good news! Water receded, which was welcome relief especially, because our attempts to move the nestbox were unsuccessful due to tricky circumstances with navigating through water and muck. The water did go down though — thanks Mother Nature! Yesterday one of our volunteers saw two “unbanded” fledglings just south of Box #5. These birds have to be from Box #4 because all other chicks on our Trail have been banded as part of a larger research project. An adult with food was also onsite yesterday. I’ll choose to assume that the other two chicks managed to fledged to dry ground. When they finally fledge the nest, Mountain Bluebird chicks have all of their flight feathers and it’s possible for them to fly at least 100 yards to start. Although, it’s well documented that they’ll choose to drop to the ground first and stay there for awhile. Somehow these chicks figured out that they needed to get some distance on those wings right away. Fly on little bluebirds, fly on!

    Thank you again to everyone who weighed in with advice.

    Nature Mapping Jackson Hole

    #4955
    Lisa
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    Wonderful! it’s so impressive the work you do! From big trails to single box people we are in this together.
    Great to read this!

    #4958
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    What a great story – yes, we do all we can for our birds, but in the long run Mother Nature sometimes overrides us! Good luck on your trail the rest of the season.

    #5028
    dogsandbirds
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    Thank you so much for checking in! We all like to know what happens in cases like this.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

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