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Bluebirds

Discussion in 'Nature/Habitat/Garden Corner' started by KTdid, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    We are excited to see our first Bluebird in 13 years visit our suet feeder tonight. It must have some hungry fledglings to feed!

    I seem to remember years ago Broadlands had a project related to bluebirds. Were we providing houses along the trails? If so, who maintains them? Can any one speak to that?
     
  2. sharse

    sharse TeamDonzi rocks!!

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    I spotted this guy at the Nature Center yesterday. They're here!
     

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  3. jblnd

    jblnd New Member

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    We have a nest if them right next to our house.
     
  4. Mom8386

    Mom8386 Member

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    We have a bluebird house and have had them every spring since we've lived in this house (9 years). We see several pairs every year since our neighbors also have houses. They also have been coming to our bird feeders for the last 9 years. They are very common.
     
  5. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    I understand that they used to be very common but due to predator birds invading their nests and cracking their eggs, not so much anymore. I suppose predator guards would help if they're nesting in a house and not a tree cavity.
     
  6. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    We see bluebirds more in the colder times than in the spring for some reason. We have 3 boxes but it has been a challenge to keep Sparrows out. There has been more of Tree Swallows nesting than Bluebirds in our boxes.

    I have been busy taking out English Sparrow nests - it became more of a Sparrow population control than getting Bluebirds to nest.

    During the last 60 years, bluebird numbers have decreased 90 percent in the eastern United States. There are four reasons for the decline:

    * The widespread use of insecticides decreases food supplies. Bluebirds don't feed seeds to their young they feed them worms which is not easy to find in the compacted lawns of suburbia which may also be treated with pesticide.

    * Severe winters increase winter mortality.

    * Changing agricultural practices create well-trimmed orchards with no cavity trees for nest sites.They need mature trees with cavities.

    * House Sparrows competing for remaining nest sites make nesting even more difficult.

    Finding suitable nest sites is perhaps the most severe problem the bluebird faces today. Allowing trees to mature and develop natural cavities takes too long. A much quicker solution is to provide man-made wooden bird houses. When bluebird houses are placed in good areas, bluebird populations increase rapidly.

    Put bluebird houses up by the end of February in areas around open fields, pastures, golf courses, cemeteries, gardens and large lawns which provide excellent bluebird habitat. These areas usually provide plenty of insects to eat. Avoid areas where insecticides are used heavily for two reasons:

    * Insects, a favorite bluebird food, are reduced, and the birds have trouble finding enough to eat.

    * The insects left are usually covered with insecticide. Bluebirds may be poisoned when they eat these insects.

    The House Sparrow population exploded and quickly began having an injurious impact on native cavity nesting birds such as bluebirds. Nesting sites once available for bluebirds were invaded by House Sparrows. House Sparrows don’t just evict the bluebird from the nest site; House Sparrows will destroy the eggs or kill any adult and nestling bluebirds they can trap in a nest site. As if battling House Sparrows weren’t hard enough, the Eastern Bluebird also had to contend with the European Starling.

    Place houses 4 to 6 feet above the ground and 50 to 100 yards apart. Face the houses to the south or southeast, if possible. Try to select places where trees, shrubs, utility wires or fences are within 25 to 100 feet of the houses. Bluebirds use these structures for perches when feeding. These perches are also helpful to young birds during their first flights.

    If houses are located near woods and brush piles, other species of birds, such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and wrens, will use the bluebird houses. These species, like the bluebird, are welcome additions to the area and should not be discouraged from using the bird house. These birds are also helpful in controlling insect populations. It may be possible to get a bluebird to nest in the same area by placing another house about 10 to 20 feet from the one the other bird is using.
     
  7. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    Good article. Do you offer mealworms to supplement their diet?
     

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