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The best deterrent for avian predators is the addition of a hole guard installed over the main entry. If you’re not familiar with these, you can see a picture of one in the article that Gin wrote for my website: http://nestboxbuilder.com/nestbox-predator-controls.html#holeguards
Also, if the Bluebird builds an extremely tall nest, you can remove some of the nesting material from the bottom to increase the distance from the entry to nest.
It looks like a female Brown Headed Cowbird, and this is precisely what these birds do. Have you examined the remaining egg? If it was a cowbird, she would have laid her own egg for the Bluebird adults to raise.
I spent two enlightening years corresponding with Linda Violett discussing the theory behind the 2-hole nestbox, and how it does succeed in reducing attacks from House Sparrows. As Tammy said, the main attribute of two holes is to provide a Bluebird with another way out of Dodge if a HOSP has stuffed itself into one entry.
Inside a nestbox, the House Sparrow will invariably defeat the Bluebird. If a Blue can take the fight outside however, its superior flying skills heavily tilt the odds against the sparrow. We’ve seen or heard of this when sparrows are foolish enough to attempt a box takeover when the adult Bluebirds are outside and nearby. I honestly don’t know if a Bluebird leaving the box to fight outside is pure instinct or a learned behavior. With 2 holes, they have a better opportunity.
For the longest time, 2-holers were an almost exclusive west coast thing, and most are hung in trees out there (2-legged predators warrant this hanging approach; I use this method myself at public parks). In 2016, I built as many 2-holers as I did Gilwoods, all of which were shipped east of the big river. I don’t think any of these were hung in trees. Seems the popularity of the 2-holer is growing, albeit slowly.
You don’t have to build or buy a Violett 2-Hole Mansion to get the dual entry. A lot of nestboxes can handle 2 entry holes as long as the front is at least 5 1/2″ wide, which covers a lot of box designs (Nabs style boxes and the new XBox for examples).
Not on FB. Gave it a fair shot once. Still not on FB.
Tammy is correct – painting the box exterior white (or a very light color) will help keep the box interior cooler. Neal Yeager did extensive heat tests on light colored boxes versus dark, and also how heat shields can help, too. You can read his test results on his website: http://www.zbestvalue.com/birdsandnature.htm
By the way Tammy, I talked with Neil and he told me his resident mockingbirds drove him and his Bluebirds insane, so he got somewhat discouraged last season (the reason he hasn’t posted recently). Maybe we’ll hear from him soon.
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.
I agree with Dana. Leave the box door open. Otherwise, the HOSP are going to imprint on the box and they’ll be there in the spring, ready to make more little HOSPs.
Congratulations on a successful fledge! And welcome to the forum.
Yes, you should definitely clean out the old nest. Wear gloves and put the old nest in a baggie and dispose of it. Leaving old nest material on the ground nearby can motivate predators to search an entire area for the source.
Bluebirds and other cavity nesters will build a new nest on top of the old one if you leave it. The resulting height of two nests puts it dangerously close to the entry, providing predators an easier reach inside.
If you apply grease to the pole make sure it’s under a baffle so the birds can’t contact it.
Good luck and let us know if they nest again.
Visit my site (Nestboxbuilder.com) and click on Links. Neil’s website (zbestvalue.com) is the last link on that page. He still sells the kits.
Remember the Troyer slot box? The plan that Mr. Troyer drew for that box showed a little cup made out of wood that you placed inside the box, exactly like your idea with the plastic thingy.
I like Gin’s idea, too. Get out your saw and go for it!
I don’t have HOSP here at the house and very few on the trails – they’ve not been a problem for me. I’m planning a third trail at a local golf course that has lots of sparrows, so I’ll start out with 2-holers there. I’ll hang the boxes in trees, and since the Mansion is rather heavy (don’t smirk Linda) I’ll use the much lighter Xbox with 2 holes.
Thank you Nicole.
Because I’m always testing boxes there’s no telling what boxes I have up at any given time. On my two trails I mainly use six-sided (hexagon) boxes which are fitted with hooks and hung on tree limbs (Linda Violett influence). My all time favorite box is the Gilwood. I’ve modified Steve’s original design by adding an inner roof and a larger main roof (called the Gilwood II). The inside dimensions of the II are identical to the original.
Thank you so much Cher!