Blues & Tree Swallows

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  • #24030
    Julie
    Participant

      Bluebird friends, I don’t think I posted once last year. My apologies–just a difficult year on all fronts. Right now I need some wisdom re: “our” blues! We have TRES and EAB that nest on opposite ends of front yard. It’s always been peaceful. In early March an EAB male claimed the Gilbertson box, but then I found a dead male EAB in the Gilbertson (HOSP attack most likely and yes, I’m trapping like mad.) Now there’s a new EAB, and he has laid claim to the TRES box, which has an oval opening and isn’t one EABs are even ‘sposed fit in–I bought it especially for that reason. The EAB who claimed it is young, slender and can get into that box. Today the TRES have returned, and they keep trying to approach their box, but EAB is guarding. Yday EAB was courting a potential Mrs., and she was more interested in the Gilbertsons. That’s the story–here’s my question: I do have another really nice nest box in backyard that EAB or TRES could use. Would it be wise to bring that up front to replace the Gilbertson? That way the TRES could use that. (We really don’t want to lose the TRES.) Or should I just trust that Mrs. Blue won’t go for that narrow, oval hole? Drama! Thanks in advance for any clues…I guess it’s good to have “problems” like this!! Thanks for insights…julie

      #24036
      tamsea
      Moderator

        Why can’t the TRES use the Gilbertson?
        What kind of box is not supposed to let a bluebird in. I’m not aware of this type of box. It’s hard to put photos on here. Can you give me a brand. Are you worried that the bluebird pair won’t be able to get in and out of that one?
        Usually if you try to manipulate them into taking a certain box, it doesn’t work. Ask me how I know. LOL Sometimes it doesn’t work and the bluebird doesn’t even nest with me because of my interference. But I’m like you and still try it. I want my bluebirds using my box in my fenced in yard so I can see what’s going on easier.

        • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by tamsea.

        Tammy

        #24038
        Julie
        Participant

          Tammy, these are the best questions! The Gilbertsons is too small for TRES to develop their wing muscles. TRES have chosen it in the past, but the blues chased ’em off. That’s when I tried to find a suitable box for them. They need more space for the babies to flap to strengthen those wing muscles, because they eat, drink, etc. all in flight. The box I have with the oval opening is this one Duncraft Swallow Bird House (link: https://www.duncraft.com/Duncraft-Swallow-Bird-House). I misspoke before–The oval is to deter HOSP, not blues, but I’ve found that the blues can’t really get into it unless they’re little ones. They try, but the female blues never seem to go in. This is all just anecdotal info–my experience. Duncraft says HOSP can’t get in easily, but trust me, they do! I’ve trapped 10 in there so far this winter! I’m just wondering if I should hope for the best. It’s confusing. I’ve never had a bluebird even look at that house, but the male blue is sitting on it daily singing. I think he’s hooked on it. Hence my concern. Thank you!!

          #24039

          Do you have room in the yard to add another box for the TRES?

          David
          Stafford, VA

          #24041
          Julie
          Participant

            David, I have a box in back, but it’s rare to see the TRES go back there for some reason. But maybe they’ll explore if they can’t get their regular spot. The front yard is full. Thank you!!

            #24043
            phillyblues
            Participant

              Yep. When I lost my babies on fledge day to a sparrow I was on a rampage like Rambo. I dedicated the next two years to trapping. 160 or so later….making a little dent. Have a nearby neighbor helping now too. And the advice here on using spookers at justvthe right time helped my 2021 babies succeed.

              #24046
              Julie
              Participant

                Phillyblues, I’m with you on the trapping. Like you, the first 2 years were high numbers. Last year, I would put out the DRST and wouldn’t catch any for 2 weeks! So I’ve finally made some headway. In early March I noticed HOSP at the boxes, so started in-box trapping. Last year I caught a bunch in Feb.! I catch more males than females with this strategy. I have no clue where they keep coming from. My neighbors are fascinated by the DRST full of HOSP, but none have started trapping. Congrats on getting a neighbor on board!

                #24047
                Julie
                Participant

                  Wanted to share a TRES update…They usually take about a month to build a nest, so this will drag on a bit yet. Each day they come and sit on the street light arm, fly around eating insects, and occasionally swoop to the box. En route, the male bluebird dive bombs them. I’ve added another wooden box out front, which male blue has inspected thoroughly. I don’t know if he’s just actively guarding the whole front yard or what. He doesn’t have a mate yet.

                  I have to share something funny. When I was putting up the new box, I thought to switch them, unsure if these birds were attached to the site or the box. The sky was clear, no birds around that I could see. The minute I touched that TRES box, they appeared out of nowhere dive bombing me, and the EAB started swooping at me, making this hissing sound, then landed nearby and chewed me out with an angry chrrrrrr sound over and over. Lots of dramatic action! I left that box where it was.

                  #24049
                  phillyblues
                  Participant

                    I think they come from Home Depots and Lowes🤣. Yeah like you my “bulk” trappongs are very infrequent now and most of my catches are box trappings. I truly wish we could figure out what has causes HOSP major decline in Europe so we could replicate it here There must be a reason.

                    #24053
                    Julie
                    Participant

                      Wanted to share an update: Yday Mr. EAB was courting a Mrs. He carefully showed her every single box in the yard, which involved a lot of going in and out of each one and wing waving. So pretty!! After much careful consideration, they were spending longest time in backyard Gilbertson near the deck. The minute they left the front yard, the TRES flew down to his box and planted himself. I was worried, while he was just biding his time! He & his mate have been flying around the box, peeking into the hole, sitting on the mailbox (it’s near the box). So the world seems to be righting itself here. I’m adding a note to my EAB calendar not to panic when Mr. EAB takes on the job of front yard thug. I think it’s just until he gets a mate that he guards ALL the potential homes. Thanks for help, everyone! Really appreciate it.

                      #24062
                      Carol – Mid-Mo.
                      Participant

                        Way to go, Julie – I have only had TRES two different times and both times produced no live birds. The first time mites got all over the birds (which I didn’t catch) and they died from this I believe (which really upset me) and the other time they had a nest but no eggs. That was about 5 or 6 years ago. After having to clean out that one box with all the mites in it I’m not too upset they have not come back, although they sure are a beautiful bird!

                        #24079
                        Julie
                        Participant

                          Carol, our TRES box usually swarms with mites after they leave–the mites exit the box & cover the outside. It’s like a horror movie. Last year I took advice from the purple martin forum who say spray box in late winter with Sevin. I did that, and there were mites again, but not as many. This year I plan to use Renee from Winslow’s advice from this forum of putting powdered sevin under the nest once it’s built. I don’t like those mites & really don’t want them on me! But we love the TRES. They help with all the bugs we have due to living near a river. Last year I got some cleaned feathers and we tossed them into the air for the TRES to use in their nest. They would swoop around us and catch them! My DH & I did this for our evening entertainment. That box was full of feathers! This morning I caught the male HOSP who had claimed the TRES box–victory!!!

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