BBs not accepting spooker

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      A new pair of BBs is nesting in my backyard box (after a previous male was killed by a HOSP). The pair so far will not accept the spooker, even with all the ribbons completely tied up. I tried after the second egg was laid, and the third egg was not laid until I removed the horizontal poles (I actually saw the female go into the box shortly after I removed them, have a feeling she was nearby watching). This morning with the poles in and ribbons tied up, the pair came back at the usual laying time, observed from a tree for awhile, then flew off without laying a fourth egg. I took the horizontal poles down and will monitor.

      The HOSP never tried to nest in the box after “the incident” and I’ve not seen/heard them for a few weeks (I took all my feeders down).

      Question: Should I keep trying with the spooker? If so, any tips? I know HOSP could still be around even if I don’t see them, but this is the very first time I’ve ever seen them here (i.e. not their usual habitat, rural property next to woods), and an ornithologist I read said that they tend to disperse quickly when there is no easy food supply.

      Thank you!


        I’m curious how long are you waiting before giving up on the spooker. What I’m asking is what time of day do you give up and take the spooker off. You may not be giving her enough time. Is this your first time to use a spooker?
        Your other options is to do the monofilament line method. I can give you a link if I can find it.
        I have never had a bluebird not get used to a spooker. I’m sure it can happen though but I’m guessing it’s very rare.
        You can cut and paste this link. It shows how to do that. I know there’s a diagram too if I can locate it.


        Carol – Mid-Mo.

          Serena, I believe you should not give up on the spooker, as the HOSP would probably just go inside and kill whatever was in the box. And believe you me, this IS NOT something you would want to see. Tammy has given you great information. (I don’t believe the wire in front of the nestbox hole is widely used and not usually recommended, as the bluebirds or others could get trapped in it.) Maybe these new bluebirds will get the idea and keep the HOSP away if possible. My pair this year are new so I was concerned about putting up the spooker but they got used to it right away. Now I have 5 babies getting big, with parents feeding them well and with the spooker flying in the wind! Good luck!


            Thank you both! This is my first time using a spooker. I am putting it on after the new egg is laid in the early morning (8am or so) so they have 24 hrs of exposure before the next laying. I may be removing it too soon but I worry that it will cause them to abandon the nest (though this doesn’t sound very common?)…how long should I give them? I haven’t had time to check the nest this afternoon except I did see a BB exiting it this afternoon…yesterday was egg 3, so today should be number 4 and tomorrow number 5 (assuming clutch reaches that size). Keep in mind, this is with ALL the streamers rolled up, so I would then have to gradually release the streamers. So stressful! I just want to do the right thing.


              UPDATE: I just went out to check box and place spooker, and flushed a BB out! I checked and there are 4 eggs. Was mama BB just roosting for the evening or does this mean incubation has started?

              Good news: I placed spooker, ran back to house, and watched, and a BB flew back into the box after only 5 minutes or so. So, I definitely was panicking and not giving it enough time. Blame it on me being new to this darned HOSP stuff…

              New question: I will now have to unfurl ribbons day by day. If mama BB is incubating, is there a danger that I will flush her out of the box too often and cause her to abandon the nest?


                I would take the spooker down. Most likely once the eggs hatch mom and dad wont be scared off by it.
                I dont use them, instead….
                What works best for me is- if you have another box put it up near (with in 50-100’) the current bb box, where it can be most easily monitored. The greedy hosp will try to occupy it. This is your opportunity to witness his presence. I have that “decoy”box already fitted with a Van Ert trap unset. As soon as the hosp appears- set the trap and your good. Just beware the bb may also inspect the decoy box so do NOT leave the trap set if you can’t continuously monitor it!

                Rochester, NY



                  Thank you, Chris!!! I had a second box up with a Van Ert trap in it (closer to the house, which I thought would attract the HOSP and deter the BBs) but I never saw or heard the HOSP again after I took down my feeders. I am a bit baffled because I’d love to think that they’ve moved on, and yet I don’t have confidence that is actually the case. I took that second box down eventually.

                  ANOTHER UPDATE: I unfurled the first pair of ribbons on the spooker this afternoon, and mama BB entered the box after about 20 minutes of anxious chittering from a nearby tree. There are still 4 eggs in the box, i.e. incubation started yesterday. Fingers crossed.

                  I can’t emphasize how much I appreciate the support and advice of this community to newbies like me! Thank you all.

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