Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Blogiversary Questions - Nest Boxes

Young bluebirds in nestTo celebrate spring, we're going to talk about bluebirds.

For those who are curious to know more, I recommend the North American Bluebird Society website.

For those who prefer and/or also want hardcopy, The Bluebird Monitor Guide is excellent as is the The Bluebird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting Bluebirds.

Laura from Beautiful West Michigan who blogs at The Laurel Leaf asked . . .
Did you put the bluebird houses up yourself or did some government/nature organization do it?

Bluebird nest box with baffleYears ago before my employer Upjohn/Pharmacia & Upjohn/Pharmacia was acquired by Pfizer, we had a beautiful campus in Kalamazoo with acres and acres of natural land. The company invited the Kalamazoo Nature Center to work with interested employees to set up and monitor bluebird trails.

It was a wonderful opportunity to work and learn with bird lovers who knew what they were doing. For many years I monitored a nest box trail at work and I set up a small bluebird trail, four boxes, on our back three acres.

When I retired over three years ago, I was presented a gift certificate to Wild Birds Unlimited which I used to upgrade my nest boxes with expensive poles and baffles. Very nice.

While expensive poles and baffles are not necessary, some type of predator control is needed. Before getting the new equipment, my nest boxes were mounted on metal pipe coated with auto grease. It works.

All the pictures in this post are from previous years on my home bluebird trail except this one with snow. It was taken today.

Nancy J. asked . . .
How is it that your bluebirds don't seem to mind your getting so close to their young?
Newly hatch bluebird fledgling with more eggs in nestMost songbirds do not have a highly developed sense of smell. The myth that they will abandon their nests if a human has touched their young is just that, a myth.

The Kalamazoo Nature Center bird banders pick the female up right off the eggs, band her, and put her back with no harm done. Later, when the young are about ten days old, they come back to pick up and band each of them.

Laurie in Maine who blogs at Socks Have No Thumbs asked . . .
I was wondering about your knowledge of birdboxes - the way you open them once they have nesters? I'm always afraid to go near them for fear of scaring away mom and yet you open them up - knowingly.

Nest with bluebird eggsAlthough the bird banders have no qualms about disturbing the female on her nest, there is no reason for me to do that at home. I can monitor the nest when she is out.

When I see the female peeking out the hole as I approach, I just walk quietly by.

Before opening up the nest box, I knock on the side so any adult bluebird inside can fly out before the home invasion.

I record the date the eggs hatch and never open the box after the hatchlings are two weeks old. At that critical age they are exercising their wings and, like all adolescents, want out of the box before they're ready.

Even the bird banders won't open a nest box during that critical last half week before the bluebird parents decide it's fledgling day.

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