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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Dane County, WI.
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    Default How about Bluebirds?

    Since a thread was posted recently about purple martins I thought it would be ok. if I asked a few questions about bluebirds on this site. Do any of you have some boxes up or a big "trail"? What is the best "post" to use? Do you need to use conduit pipe to protect from predators? I have only three boxes [on the way to the bees] and not all have been put up yet. The weather here in the midwest has been unusually cold for this time of year. Have your bluebirds laid eggs already?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,549

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    Hi Oldbee
    Yes, we have a bluebird trail, probably have 25 nest boxes, and usually have about 5-6 nesting pairs. So far this year, we haven't even seen a bluebird, much less have eggs, due to the cold I imagine. I am looking forward to them, they mean it is REALLY spring.
    We mostly use 8' green metal T posts. We mount the houses at about 5' heighth, that way I can easily look inside. We do use white plastic conduit on the pipes, after having a lot of trouble with raccoons a few years back. I also put wire cages around the hole on the front to deter cats, also a problem here.
    Sheri

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Dane County, WI.
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    Default

    Wow! 25 boxes! Great. I put my boxes on conduit pipe but they seem to wobble so much in the slightest breeze. It would probably be fine for for a Baltimore Oriole. I will probably put the plastic conduit pipe around them [the T posts] too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,549

    Default

    I think your three boxes will lead to more. I add one or two every year it seems, lol.
    Those boxes are sized for bluebirds but they are used as much by tree swallows. I try to put them in pairs, it seems like the tree swallows help keep the house sparrows away too.
    Sheri
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 04-07-2007 at 11:07 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Default

    Friends of mine near Chilton WI have one pair of bluebirds at their place, can't figure out what they're eating right now

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    6,080

    Default

    I have six bluebird houses up. I have seen a good number of pairs in the area for awhile now this spring. But nothing in the boxes yet.

    I also just built my first American Kestrel box for the farm. I have seen them in the area and hope to get a pair laying.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,549

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dcross View Post
    Friends of mine near Chilton WI have one pair of bluebirds at their place, can't figure out what they're eating right now
    It seems every year after the bluebirds get here we have a cold spell. I buy them waxworms, lol. They learn to come to a dish to get them, they absolutely LOVE them.

    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    ..I also just built my first American Kestrel box for the farm. I have seen them in the area and hope to get a pair laying.
    We have had Kestrils several times in a couple boxes we built. One nest opening is in the side of our barn with the box being accessible from the inside. They are so beautiful. The babies are white puffballs. John sometimes finds a mouse in the beeyard and brings it home to put in their nest.

    Yes, our birds are spoiled. They are worth it.
    Sheri

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    S.E. Oklahoma
    Posts
    337

    Default

    Got three boxes up and seem to add more every year. No specific mounting platform, only requirement I have is that they must be eye level when opened so I can look at em. Have a nesting pair that should be hatched by now (haven't checked them in a week). Around here it's kind of like Christmas....Never know if it's going to be Bluebirds, Wrens, or Southern flying squirells in our boxes.

    David

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,487

    Default

    I'm putting up my bluebird houses today if I can get the posts pounded through the frozen ground. I am going to try 1 " electrical conduit. It is threaded with a flange that screws on top and the house is screwed to that.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
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    Default

    Oooooooooooooh!! Don't tell me about no Kestrel houses!. Makes me jealous! I have a sad [sad for me] story about the one Kestrel house I put up. It seems that the WI. Dept. of Natural Rescources wanted to open up some land for waterfowl nesting near a marsh on a public hunting grounds. The area [about 40 acres] was a pine plantation with trees 70-90 feet tall. When I went to the land for some hiking I couldn't see any trees. The whole area was flattened like a tornado went through it, quite a sight actually, after walking the area for 15 years. They left about 10-15 trees here and there. There was a tall, barren deciduous tree on a corner of the land where I put up the Kestrel house at about 18'. I didn't see Kestrels about that first year but I think Flickers used the box ok. I went back in late fall and could not see the tree. As I got closer it appeared the tree had been cut down: and the box?? The box was cut in half, side to side like with a chain saw!! I couldn't believe it! Whomever did it why couldn't they just leave the box whole and leave it?? I spent many hours on that box, stained with green and brown to make it look natural and painted with water-seal. I have come to the conclusion that puttting bird boxes up on public hunting grounds is just asking for "destruction". I saw a wood duck and a bluebird house on a PHG. recently that had been destroyed by shot gun. That's how hunters get their [well deserved] BAD!! reputation sometimes. Thanks all for posts and Good luck with your Bluebirds AND Kestrels! It looks like the birds around here are just beginning to "think" about nesting, so maybe it's ok yet. I just hope this early spring weather isn't a foreboding of things to come later.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    Default

    Sheri, I was visiting a blubird website last week, and I saw that there are bluebird boxes made of PVC that sparrows supposedly don't particularly like. Do you have any experience with these? We have bluebirds on occasion, and I would like to set up some nest boxes, but as I said in the purple martin thread, house sparrows are really a problem here. Any advice or opinion?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,549

    Default

    Hi dragonfly
    Sparrows are a problem here too, a big problem. I am in constant battle with them. There is a farm across the street and they hang around there but come to our feeders and nesting boxes.:mad:
    It seems the number of bluebirds we have in any given year is directly proportionate to the number of sparrows I kill. Get the male if you can. We shoot them as they sit on top of the houses chirping to attract the females. The males claim the houses and even if you kill a female they will stay and try to attract another female to the house. They get pretty savvy though and take off as soon as the window is cracked. We also have traps that are mounted to the inside of the houses that trip when a bird enters, trapping them inside. Then you can use a plastic bag to catch whatever flies out when you open the nest box. If it's a "good" bird you can let it go, if it's a sparrow, kill it.

    Mounting houses in pairs, maybe 5-10 feet apart gives better odds that a tree swallow will take up residence and they give the sparrows a bit of a hassle, making it easier for the bluebirds to nest in the adjacent nestbox. The swallows and bluebirds are fine together.

    I haven't heard about those pvc houses, do you have a link to them, I would try them.
    Someone told me that if you hang 3-4 pieces of twine from the front eave of the house long enough to dangle in front of the hole that the bluebirds don't mind but the sparrows do. I am going to try that this year.

    Oldbee, that senseless destruction would make me pretty mad too.
    As for the hunters, I think most hunters value the environment they are in, but it only takes one idiot to give them a black strike.
    Sheri

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
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    Default

    I'll provide a link with a mention of the PVC nest boxes- the author calls it a Gilbertson PVC house. It's down a ways on the page. I'm sure the site has a link somewhere to the manufacturer or a supplier. This seems to be a pretty good bleubird information site. I have even considered putting out some "dummy" bluebird boxes to use as lures for sparrow so that I can get rid of them. I never had any idea what a pest the house sparrow is. Now, I realize I need to learn the difference between a tree sparrow and a house sparrow

    http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/ban/hsbyse.htm

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    Default

    OK,
    There are tree sparrows and tree swallows. It is the tree swallows that like the bluebird houses. Tree sparrows are a native sparrow to the Americas and are GOOD sparrows. They winter here in the US but nest in the arctic tundra. House sparrows are the common, introduced nasties.

    As for using "dummy" boxes, yes, that is why I put up so many boxes. But the extra boxes work great for the swallows, plus I sometimes have chickadees nest in them. If I have a chickadee move into one I make the entrance hole smaller by putting a wood block with a smaller hole drilled over the existing nesting hole so the sparrows can't get in and kick out the chickadees. There aren't too many birds cuter than baby chickadees.....
    Sheri

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
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    Default

    hehe, thanks for the clarification. I'm getting my species mixed up, lol. Do tree sparrows only nest in trees? We have a species of swallow that nests in mud under the bridge over our creek on the road we live on. They are great fun to watch on summer mornings. Right before sunrise, you can watch their aerobatics show out our windows as they (I guess) hunt for bugs over the field of wildflowers and weeds. Are the house sparrows the only non-native sparrow? It seems I remember reading that somewhere. I don't want to get one confused with a tree sparrow in my attempt to control pests.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfly View Post
    We have a species of swallow that nests in mud under the bridge over our creek on the road we live on. They are great fun to watch on summer mornings.
    Barn swallows, grew up watching them duel our cats Tree swallows look the same but with white bellies.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    Default

    Thanks so much. They are beautiful to watch.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfly View Post
    ..... Do tree sparrows only nest in trees? .... Are the house sparrows the only non-native sparrow? It seems I remember reading that somewhere. I don't want to get one confused with a tree sparrow in my attempt to control pests.
    It get's more confusing yet, lol. There is the American tree sparrow, the good bird that winters in Canada, and the non-native Eurasian tree sparrow, which looks like the house sparrow but a bit smaller and spiffier.

    I am not sure of the American tree sparrow's nest preference but not to worry, they aren't in the U.S in the summer, they only winter here. Not even sure if they make it as far south as TX at all.
    The Eurasian Tree Sparrow isn't as aggressive as the house sparrow and as far as I know, is only localized in parts of Missouri, Illinois.
    There are LOTS of native sparrows, it helps to get a good identifying bird book with color pictures.

    The tree swallows are as much fun as the bluebirds to have. They eat lots of bugs on the wing. They swoop around like the barn swallows, but most of the day. They get very tame and will take feathers out of your hand when building their nests. But they will also get very protective of their babies once they hatch, they will dive bomb anyone they don't like getting too close to their nests. If one pair gets riled up by an intruder, sometimes every pair in the area will gang up on them.

    Good luck and have FUN!
    Sheri

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sparkill, NY
    Posts
    110

    Default

    I have had about 8 boxes up for the last three years and haven't seen a single blue bird. Maybe they just don't travel into my neck of the woods. A couple of other birds (I can't tell exactly what kind yet) have made the hole in one box bigger and moved in.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
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    3,721

    Default

    Tulipwood: I am sorry to hear that you haven't seen any bluebirds in 3 years. I see that the bluebird is the state bird of New York!! You have an organization in New York; www.nysbs.org that may have some information for you. I hope you have done a little research on where they prefer to nest. They like open areas with some short to medium grass areas. A small tree near the box helps too. Some birds have made the hole bigger and moved in? Maybe the boxes are too close to a wooded area and they are woodpeckers! I can't think of too many birds that would be able to enlarge the opening of a nest box. Good Luck!

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