Forum Replies Created
I have had my bluebirds take over the TRES nest once too, so yes the blues certainly could kick the TRES out if they really want the box.
In my case it was a late TRES nest with eggs only days away from hatching. The blues had finished their first brood and just could not re-use their old box…not any of the three OTHER boxes on the property…nope, had to use the paired one with the TRES nest. *shakes head*
If the TRES did not have eggs maybe, just maybe they will move to the paired box?
Sorry slow..have been trying to get outside while the weather was nice…
My blues will usually chose a empty/cleaned house but once and a while they will take one with another nest in it (usually the TRES, displacing them), so 80% of the time my experience is they do like the cleaned box, so they don’t seem to “prefer” a box with existing nest. But I found the idea/study interesting and wondered if my actions of cleaning the boxes all the time affected them…if only I had enough boxes (and bluebirds) to test it out myself. ;P
I always err on the side of caution and would leave it.
If it has not been used there is no harm in leaving it (no parasites) as I have seen a study that showed some blues preferred to ‘renovate’ a nest rather than build a new one. And if there is a second box available then they have the choice to build a new nest if they so wish. You never know, maybe the female will use the old nest with the new male? Who knows. Anyhow, thats just me, always worried I interfere to much sometimes. ;P But even if you do remove it they can rebuild a new nest in a short time.
Sadly the egg did not survive. She laid at least one other, probably more but when I checked the box after it warmed up again I found egg yolk on the two eggs in the nest. After watching it for a week the eggs remained cold and unmoved. I saw Mr. Blue wing waving on the paired box so hopefully they try again.
I could an inbox trap but by the time the HOSP has bonded its usually meant loses for me…so its frustrating. I just don’t want to keep losing so felt I maybe should just take all boxes down. (and taking all boxes down would prevent other humans using them against me to.).
Some notes on placement:
Incidence of House Wren interference can be prevented by placing nestboxes away from shrubs. 20 metres or more will not be used for nesting and over 30 metres should not have any egg piercing. Note the nestboxes in this study did not have any predator protection! A properly installed stovepipe baffle will prevent raccoon or snake depredation.
Tree Swallows chose nestboxes as far from trees or shrubs as available.
Eastern Bluebirds seem to like being within 20 or 30 metres of trees (but will nest in open space too).
These two charts come from the study “Influence of Forest Edge on Nest-site Selection by Tree Swallows” by Wallace Rendell and Raleigh Robertson (published in 1990). https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/wilson/v102n04/p0634-p0644.pdf
If you are in an area that also has Tree Swallows (TRES) then you should be “pairing” your boxes so there is room for both species. (personally I actually find Tree Swallows MORE entertaining than the blues. TRES do all kinds of interesting behaviors and I see them more often than I see my bluebirds). It is illegal (and unnecessary) to destroy the nest of any of our native birds. It is unnecessary to see any conflict between species. They co-exsist very well together. Many landlords find the TRES are a great early warning system for when a predator (hawk) may be in the area. Conflicts with House Wrens only come when boxes are placed to close to shrubs, which are prime House Wren habitat. Place nestboxes 30 metre (98 feet) or more away from shrubs or forests and you should not have any House Wren incursions or conflicts (I found a study on this, and my personal experiences seem to match). If Eastern Bluebirds (EABL) or Tree Swallows (TRES) are your “target” preferred species then you should be placing nestboxes in open areas. TRES like very open meadows or fields. EABL like to have a mature tree or wires nearby to perch above their nest and keep watch but will also nest in wide open fields too. If you wish to have bluebirds but have TRES using your nestbox all you need to do is “pair” two boxes together.
Below is an example set up of paired boxes.
Boxes placed more than 30 m (98 feet) from the forests or hedgerows = no House Wren incursions
Boxes paired with another about 2 m (7 feet) from each other = one TRES nest, they will defend the second box as part of their territory, leaving it empty for the EABL if the blues want it.
Bluebird territories are very large. A male bluebird will chase away any others within 90 m (~300 feet) of his nest.
I have never had any House Wren incursions at the site this was based off off. I have always had at least one pair of EABL nesting and one box free when we had the four boxes like this. My blues always get the box they want. They start nesting before the TRES arrive and they can kick the TRES out if they so wish. (In fact one year for the second brood the EABL chose to nest on TOP of the TRES eggs, just days away from hatching, rather than use the empty box on the other side of the property or the same box they just has the first brood in. There was lots of fighting but the blues had no trouble taking and keeping the box from the TRES… day or so later the TRES moved on)
I chose to place the “paired” boxes very close together as I have seen TRES nest quite close together. There always seems to be more adults than there are nestboxes so competition can be intense. At one site, improperly spaced swallow grid, we do have swallows nesting withing 4 or 5 m (13-16 feet) from each other. There are LOTS of fights but they do nest. If pairs are placed 10 metre (32 feet) or more apart I can pretty much guarantee you will have two TRES nests (thats about what I use in the swallow grid I set up; 10 to 15 m [32 – 50 feet]). Keep paired boxes CLOSE if you want one TRES and one EABL. Then place the next pair of boxes over 90 metres (300 feet) away.
Photobucket has changed its policy and NO LONGER ALLOWS LINKING. (Unless you pay crazy fees, outrageously high)
Other forums I am in have switched to IMGUR, but there are likely other options out there.
(my responce from 2013) I use a slightly different way to attach the stovepipe baffle: 1/4 inch wire fence/mesh and fold down a few small parts to hold it in place (instead of the solid cap). Like this: https://nestwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/guardsto.pdf In theory I can just cut the wire mesh and zip tie it back together, then put the stovepipe on and close it. I purposely have not ‘closed’ the stovepipe so I could do this. (one of the existing, very old, boxes at my office is already occupied but has no baffle). I find the wire hardware cloth/mesh prevents any wasp nests (The solid cap design becomes a attractive spot for wasps to make a nest under the baffle).
It successfully worked. I installed the stovepipe baffle on an existing (very old) nest box today. Worked like a charm.
Just before closing the stovepipe:
(edit: actually just before I realized I forgot to attach the hanger and such…but you get the idea…it worked well just cutting the wire then zip-tying back together. I also punch a hole in the flaps on top of the stovepipe and put the zip tie through it and the hanger too, so the whole thing is attached securely to the post…but can still wobble)
- This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by BrendaV.
A response on alternative mounting from dzyg:
Tammy, here is a photo of the back of one of our nestboxes, this is how all our nestboxes are mounted onto the conduit, easier than drilling a hole through the box and into the conduit. No clue what these clamps are called, my husband is a carpenter so he would know what these are called, he made and mounted all ten of our nestboxes. Oh and you can get these clamps where you can put a screw on both sides of the clamp too. I am sure they have all different sizes of these clamps so you would need to get the right size depending on what size conduit you use. I think ours are 3/4inch.
Donna in WI
Response from pgrfw:
Best I can tell the version in the picture is a “one hole EMT clamp”. I have been using the two hole versions, but I have the same problem someone else mentioned: they don’t provide enough clamping force to keep the box from spinning in the wind. I’ve tried two solutions. One is to cut a strip out of an aluminum drink can and wrap it around the EMT under the clamp. That gives the clamp a bit more to hang on to. The other is to drill a hole through the center of the clamp and into the tube, then put a screw in it. That’s super duper secure. You only need to do that to one of the clamps on each box.
I think all in all the one holes are a better approach. The ones I have used fit tight enough to hold things in place on their own.
I also quit driving the pipe directly into the ground. I bought some four foot long 1/2 inch rebar. I drive that two feet into the ground and slip the EMT over it. The tube has two sheet metal screws to hold the pipe to the rebar. That way I’m not beating on the tubes, I don’t have to allow for the amount driven into the ground when cutting the tube (so I can have a full ten footer for the TRES), and I can swap poles out in a flash with just a screwdriver.
Yeah, I have to drill a lot of holes.
Response from dzyg:
Hmmm, we have never had the nestboxes move/spin with this type of clamp and we have 13 mounted this way, even during the cold very windy Winter months none of them move. Maybe using the one screw version like we do with one screwed on one side at the top and the other the other way at the bottom makes it a little more stable. Not sure but they hold tight here. Some of these nestboxes have been up this way since 2005 and they are holding tight.
Oh and we had a few nestboxes mounted with the rebar in the ground and then the conduit just over the top, they spun in the wind when we had them mounted that way though even if we tried pushing the conduit in the ground a little too and they wobbled much more this way too. We quickly changed that to pounding the conduit in the ground, much more stable and no more turning.
Response from Tamessa
April 13th, 2010
I’ve had the same problem as some of you with the box rotating in the past. So my husband put this on.
Matt, I have a new assignment for you. How to attach a sparrow spooker. Do most of you just use a emt strap clamp to attach it to the box?
We thought we would try something new so that we wouldn’t have to be screwing and unscrewing from the box. So we tried this but it didn’t work so well because it rotates.
Any other suggestions out there?
Response from pgrfw
April 13th, 2010
I use hose clamps.
Next time I’m going to drill holes through my PVC water pipe spooker, then through the EMT, and attach it all with 2 inch machine screws and nuts.
Yeah, I’m going to have even more holes in my EMT. My drill press gets a workout.
Response from bigmattblue
April 14th, 2010
I have never used the 1 hole straps,Only the 2 holed ones,they are the ones that allow the box to spin.I really prefer the nut and bolt now, I have used the rebar method in the past also,You are right the pole is always wobbly ,I will never mount a box using that again,too much maintenance.
I make my own spookers from wood,On most of my boxes I just stick it in the top of the conduit,But so many of my boxes are different from each other,and the way they are mounted is different and the roof overhangs are different,etc.I have been known to just screw it right to the back of the box,sometimes I have to make a wood spacer so the spooker will clear the rear roof overhang.I really am working on standardizing all my boxes.I am really like your idea with the conduit clamp,I am not sure how I would use it ,but I will figure something out.
response from Ray.bluebirdnutcafe
April 14th, 2010,
If your birdhouse is spinning on a conduit post, the best way to stop it from spinning is drill a hole in the conduit and stick a long piece of rhubarb through the hole. make sure the post is underground with the rhubarb. I don’t have any use for a conduit post anyway. conduit is cheap and looks nice but it wont make a strong post. I like the green shaped T-post you can get at home depot for 5.49 for 7′ if you want to put on a predator guard use a piece of 3 inch or 4 inch plastic pipe. just slide it over the T-shaped fence post.
Response from tamsea
April 15th, 2010
Thanks Matt and Ray.
Matt, so if you screw the wood sparrow spooker (which is how mine is made) right into the nestbox then after the nesting season you just unscrew it? and keep screwing and unscrewing?
Tammy – The HOSP Fighting Heroine
Response from River
April 15th, 2010
Anyone using this method to attach the box? I picked this up from Gary Springer’s Chalet, and I noticed a few bluebird societies have adopted it as their standard. This is my first time trying this so if anyone has experience with it I’d like to know what you think. I’m telescoping a 1/2″ tube inside a 3/4″ for strength. I’ve also changed all of the floors in my nestboxes to 1 1/2″ thick to give the EMT fitting some extra bite.
By the way, Matt, great job on your tutorial.
Response from pgrfw
April 15th, 2010
I use that method for my suet feeder. It’s nicer looking and doesn’t put the bending load on the tube because the mass center is directly over the tube rather than off to the side. I used the kind with a side setscrew, though, so I can easily take it down.
The EMT goes into a set screw EMT to NPT coupling, which screws into a floor flange. The extra underslung basket is for BOSS. I just fill an old suet tray with them. I wish the cardinals would properly dispose of their shells. They just throw them back in the basket, so I can’t tell when I need to re-fill it.
The wires hold the roof on because this was meant to be a hanging suet feeder. The raccoons would tear the trays out every night, so I put the wires on. Then they just knocked the whole thing out of the tree and cleaned it out on the ground. So I put up the EMT. They knocked it over. So now it’s on a pole with a stovepipe predator guard, and they haven’t been able to take it out in nearly two years. The wooden extensions were to help the redbellies and flickers find a better foothold.
And now that I look at that picture, yikes, there’s only one screw holding the flange to the bottom of the wood structure.
Response from bigmattblue
April 16th, 2010
On the boxes where I screw to the box,yes that is correct, I just unscrew it at the end of the nesting, and screw it back on the next nesting. Its nothing fancy, I just try not to over tighten. Last year I posted this mock photo of how I do it when the box has a rear overhang. If I get a Blue using a box, I kinda just figure it out. I really don’t have a standard way of doing it. When I get a egg, I will take some photos of how I do it on that box.
Roosting feces would not prevent someone from nesting in the box, no. The birds would build a nest right over top if they wanted to.
I have had EABL use my boxes for roosting in bad weather but have heard woodpeckers and other birds can also use boxes. TRES will also roost, sometimes communally, if the weather is especially bad. One winter was so bad here I had two inches of feces in the box in the spring (and a dead EABL that had partially been covered with feces so even that did not stop them from continuing to use the box). I had cleaned the box totally before winter (and again in the spring so they did not have to build a nest on that!).
If there’s room I would maybe put up a second box. Don’t Chickadees like shrubs? Maybe add another box in a more open area, that way you may have two species nesting! Always neat. But in my experience the Blues will get the box they want, no mater if there is another species nesting there or its dirty or whatnot.April 12, 2018 at 11:46 pm in reply to: Can a wren guard be used on a slotted bluebird box? #6205
PS: yes a wren guard should work just fine on a slot entrance, just make sure you follow the specks….and make wide enough for the slot (rather than just a hole).April 12, 2018 at 11:43 pm in reply to: Can a wren guard be used on a slotted bluebird box? #6204
Best solution for House Wrens is just move the box away from shrubs. House Wrens like shrubs, will nest withing 20 metres of shrubs, may pierce eggs up to 30 metre from shrubs but as long as you are more than 30 M from shrubs you should not have to worry at all about House Wrens.
You need proper predator guard if squirrels are a worry. Squirrels should not be an issue. At all. Get a stove pipe some “all-round” and a bit of 1/4 inch hardware cloth. Look up “stovepipe baffle”…I think the post I made about it before is on the old forum (and I can’t find it at the moment). For added protection paint a layer of new machine grease or petroleum jelly around the post (under the stovepipe is best) and that will stop ants from climbing up.
Slot entrance will not “deter” House Sparrows…but it is suppose to give a bird in the box a chance to escape a HOSP attack though, since the slot has more space the HOSP cannot block it all at once. Slots entrance also gives room for multiple young to line up for food and may prevent one from hogging all the food by siting in the hole and not letting its siblings eat (maybe more an issue with TRES than EABL?).
I also recommend “pairing” boxes. Tree Swallows are wonderful.
Best House Sparrow solution is to trap and euthanize. I love Uncle Blaines deluxe repeater, works great with a ‘bait’ bird. https://www.sparrowtraps.net/
And I second the sialis.org website. Lots of great info.
Welcome and good luck!
Nope. Does not work.
Must trap and euthanize.
Sparrow spooker is a few bird scar tape streamers over the box to keep the house sparrows away, most blues accept them fine.
Edit: Whopes..too slow! :P
Used regularly on bluebird single box houses. Not sure Purple Martins would tolerate a spooker on a T-14.
Wow! Thats awesome!