May 16, 2022 at 10:51 pm #24431
Stebet, I definitely think the starlings are an issue. They are sneaky little buggers and may well do what Dana described, grabbing a baby and taking off with it. I saw a blue jay do that once with a house wren baby. Starlings would definitely do that. I think they’re horrible. I just don’t know the answer….wish I did!May 17, 2022 at 8:34 am #24435
Thanks Dana and Julie!
Interestingly, a few weeks ago I noticed that the nest was lower than it had been. Now I’m thinking that the bluebirds themselves removed some nesting material. Very intelligent of them!
As soon as they fledge, I’ll remove the house from the fencepost, and set up a pole and baffle instead. I feel pretty fortunate that the birds have survived my mistakes thus far.
Nine HOSP captured so far in May. I wish it were more. I naively thought they would be hopping in, one after another. They are eating the millet on the outside perch, but not venturing inside.May 17, 2022 at 11:59 am #24436
David, Dana, and Julie — I’m not especially handy at making things, so I’m thinking this could be a good choice?
Is this similar to what you use?May 17, 2022 at 4:51 pm #24439David in Stafford,VAParticipant
That would work. Don’t use the Shepherd’s hook option. Go with the Advanced Bird House option with the Racoon baffle. The store can help you with the parts selection if it does not come as a package.
btw – I noticed that the brochure is from the Lancaster WBU store. Are you near Lancaster/ Mount Joy area?
Stafford, VAMay 17, 2022 at 10:48 pm #24440
David, thanks for your great tips and methods! I saved all of your tips in a word file for future reference. So helpful!
Stebet, don’t be discouraged over sparrow counts. This is why you keep a tally. At month’s end, you realize, wow, that trickle turned into 24 birds! (or some such number) Be encouraged! You can do this!
I’m not handy, either, and I used this method to put up my boxes:
See page 2. You get a small piece of rebar, drive it into the ground straight (trickiest part for me!), then slide electrical conduit over it. I got mine at Do It Best hardware locally and they cut the piece for me to size (i bought the big piece, but they cut it in half). Then you mount the house using the clamp on back method. I’m not handy and I actually figured this out! Just another idea. It’s probably cheaper than the WBU one, all told.
These Iowa guys sell some additional items that you can use with the box–brackets, a thing to keep it from spinning in the wind.May 17, 2022 at 10:50 pm #24441May 18, 2022 at 9:23 am #24443
Thanks, David! Great advice. And yes, we are in Manheim PA.
And thanks, Julie! That doesn’t seem overly difficult. And WBU products tend to be a little pricey……
How are you doing with the HOSP trapping lately? I had a female decoy in there, and the other HOSP would not show much interest at all, other than eating the millet on the outside perch, or on the ground.May 18, 2022 at 10:03 pm #24448
I have not had the sparrow trap out this year yet. Seriously, once you dent the population, it helps so much! I did catch a bunch pre-bluebird nesting season with the in-house traps. But I just noticed a male sparrow today hanging around, and I have nests in 4 boxes right now, so I may be putting the trap out. I’ve been too busy with work to see if there are a bunch here or just a loner.
When I had a low trapping rate, I would always think, “tomorrow i’ll put the trap away.” Then that day I’d catch another! It never failed. I also tend to keep at least 2 decoys in there at a time, often 3. I figure company (they can roost together at night) is good. Plus if they make a racket, that draws more in. I find the trap area is busiest in the morning, but rather dead in the afternoon & evening. Maybe stop putting seed outside the elevator? Just let them eat any spilled seed, and then if they want more they have to go into the elevator…an idea.May 19, 2022 at 8:38 am #24450
Thank you, Julie. I will follow your suggestions!
One mistake I now realize, is that I removed the decoy after a few days, thinking it wasn’t doing any good. Next time I get one, I’ll be more patient and leave her in there. I did move the trap to a different location yesterday. That may have been premature, based on what you are saying, but now that it’s there, I’ll leave it alone for a while. Patience is so important! The HOSP are still a problem, but at least this has been good exercise for my character. :-)
Congrats on your success in reducing the HOSP!
You have four BB houses going? Wow, that’s fantastic.May 19, 2022 at 9:07 am #24451
No, I don’t want to mislead—we have 1 bluebird nest, 1 tree swallow, 2 chickadee. I worry most about the chickadees at this point with the sparrows. The bluebirds seem to be pretty aggressive, altho’ early this morning the male went to the box, landed, sang a bit, then shifted to a speed limit sign about 50 feet away. The female poked her head out, looked around, saw him, then flew over beside him. Before she landed, he was wing waving, then she landed almost on top of him wing waving back, then they touched beaks a bit. It was so cute! They sat side by side on that sign. The old pair never did that.
One other thot on the sparrows: I also use white bread to lure them in. I grab day old buns or 1-2 fresh buns and keep the extra in freezer. Sparrows seems to like white bread. I stack pieces of it in the bait area (really filling it up), beyond the elevator, put one on top of the trap above the bait-area pile (so when they grab it they see the mother lode under it!), and one on the platform outside the elevator. Sometimes they grab them and fly off, but they often stay and then get caught. (By pieces I mean I pull little chunks off.)
I also take a little chunk of white bread and mush it against the millet, then flip it millet side up. Sparrow delight! I usually put that one on the elevator platform (the little wooden spot).May 19, 2022 at 11:14 am #24452
Oh, okay that makes sense! We have one BB box, and a wren box (unoccupied, haven’t heard any wrens yet this year). M
Great advice on the trap. I’m making notes, so I don’t have to go back and reread all the postings. Thank you so much. I think I’ve been too skimpy with the bait…..and I didn’t know they liked white bread. I’ll definitely do that.
You were right again. I was getting really discouraged the past few days, and just now I saw a male HOSP in the trap a few minutes ago. (Do you remove those right away, and only leave the females in there as decoys?)May 19, 2022 at 12:37 pm #24453NickNackHummerParticipant
stebet, the WBU pole system is great. I highly recommend getting the pole and raccoon baffle from them. That’s what I’ve always used for my nest boxes and bird feeders. They may be a little more expensive, but they last forever and are so sturdy.
East TennesseeMay 19, 2022 at 1:01 pm #24454
Thank you, Carol! I agree, from experience it is better to pay a little more and get something that will last. I feel fortunate that the BB’s have survived the season without injury, with such a risky location for the box (my mistake). I will get a proper setup when the newborns are fledged and I can remove / clean the box.May 19, 2022 at 9:38 pm #24457
Sometimes I leave the male in if it’s just him and a female, but realize he may fertilize her and you may end up with eggs in the trap. I’ve had that happen—eggs rolling around in the trap, which always break and make a mess. A male may lure other males in, but if that happens, get one out because they will battle eventually. It’s really a judgment call. I don’t usually let the males in very long due to the egg situation I’ve dealt with. That was upsetting to me.May 20, 2022 at 7:47 am #24459
Thanks, Julie. I’m also inclined to get the males out of the trap sooner rather than later.
And I loved your BB story from yesterday! So heartwarming.
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