View Full Version : Wanting to set-up for bluebirds
30th of December 2008 (Tue), 14:42
I'm hoping some of you can help me.
I'm wanting to set up a nesting box for bluebirds, but am unsure on how to go about it. I have the box already, have had it for over a year now.
The back of my house is located near powerlines and it has pretty big gusts of wind that come up the hill.
My problem is where to put the box and on what... I've also been reading alot of horrors about House sparrows getting into the box and killing the bluebirds.
I'm hoping to get something set up so I can photograph these beautiful birds,
but I dont want to attract them, only to have them an easier target.
Any advice for me? Thanks for any and all help.
Also, any other tips on attracting other birds would be great. :)
30th of December 2008 (Tue), 15:33
First I'd visit: http://www.virginiabluebirds.org/index.html
Looks like they'll have your local information and links/resources for Virginia bluebirds.
We have boxes all over the neighborhood (near Tulsa, OK) and have well established (western) bluebird populations. Many in the neighborhood encourage them and watch out for predators, so that helps.
The most sucessful boxes I've seen are near fields with trees and other perchables. They love powerlines and hang out there. Boxes in the neighborhood face NE and are mounted on power poles, trees, and fence posts. Doesn't seem to bother them. And it IS Oklahoma, wind doesn't seem to phase them much either!
Ours are not bashful, so photos are pretty easy. One neighbor sits on her back porch and shoots them on a feeder. If you get a nesting pair, just continue on as usual and walk around the box (no sneaking!). I'd stay back 25 feet or more at any given time - just to give them privacy.
For photography, I'd add a couple of branches near the box as perches. Secure them well off the ground (post or fence). This gives you a better 'look' to your picture.
Other than that, my best advice is to put up the box!!! You'll never get the birds if your box isn't on the market!
30th of December 2008 (Tue), 16:29
Thanks LW. I appreciate your advice. :)
Hoping to get some new tenants in the next few months.
30th of December 2008 (Tue), 21:04
No problem! THis is a favorite kind of shooting - I've found that the more I practice on sparrows, cardinals, and bluebirds, the more prepared I am for eagles, osprey, and other 'special' birds!
You had also asked about attracting birds, teh best thing to do is put out feeders of different types. If you have a Wild Birds Unlimited, go visit. Finches like thistle, cardinals like sunflowers, orioles like fruit. I personally think that birds see other birds in a yard and come in to visit. If there's something on the buffet for them, they'll be back!
If you have a variety of foods and feeding stations, you'll attract different birds. And don't forget hummers and butterflies!
It really is an illness once you're into it. You'll have neighbors filling feeders when you're out of town, and you'll start naming your visitors.
Good luck - it'll only get worse! And feel free to ask questions, I for one love turning someone else on to backyard habitat!
30th of December 2008 (Tue), 21:47
Bluebirds LOVE meal worms and suet during winter when they can't find bugs or berries very easily. They also like meal worms when they have babies they're raising. If they realize there is a close food source to the nest box, there's a better chance they'll use the box. Wrens, tufted titmice, mocking birds, woodpeckers and several other birds also like meal worms...... anytime of the year. It's a good idea if you have a baffle on the pole under the bird nest to keep possums and racoons from climbing up and reaching into the nest and getting the babies. Snakes can also be a problem with nest boxes, there is a snake resistant baffle that can be built for about $8.00 at this site
Meal worms are cheaper if you buy them in larger quantities instead of the local pet store or bait shop.
Several suet recipes for Bluebirds
Lots of good info on bluebirds that might be helpful
31st of December 2008 (Wed), 07:34
Thanks again LW & Sharon. :) I'm getting excited about putting up the box.
I'll have to plan out some places to put the suet and other feed. I dont have many
trees in my yard, but they line the property in the back.
I saw some birds last evening, flying about 6-8 in a flock, and they had
these gold bellys. I'll have to take another look at them. (wasnt fast enough with the camera) :(
31st of December 2008 (Wed), 15:34
Great questions. Yes, it is true that house sparrows (HOSP) are a threat to bluebirds. Do you have a lot of HOSP in your area? If there is a large population, it may not be wise to put up a bluebird box at all as that would practically guarantee they'd take over the box. If you're relatively HOSP free, then putting up the box should be safe, but be vigilant.
I live in a suburb and have a couple of bluebird boxes up. My yard isn't huge (slightly under 1/2 acre total) but there is some good habitat and thankfully few HOSP around. Summer 2007 I had a bluebird pair nest, after chickadees used the box. This past summer, chickadees nested twice, but no bluebirds.
Here's my box setup:
Notice the hole reducer - that's for the chickadees. Of course you wouldn't have one on there for the bluebirds.
To protect against HOSP intrusion, I've found the sparrow spooker (http://www.sparrowtraps.net/spookers.htm) to be effective. You can also make your own by checking out the info at sialis.org (http://www.sialis.org/sparrowspooker.htm). I'd recommend getting very familiar with that website if you aren't already. The spooker should be put on only after the first egg is laid. And if your neighborhood is overrun with HOSP, it probably won't be effective.
One thing I'd also recommend is to put in a nest box camera. It's so fun to watch what's going on in the nest! I put one in this year hoping for bluebirds, but got to see chickadees instead. I used the Hawk Eye camera (http://www.birdhousespycam.com/) and it was really a blast. I put some videos up on YouTube, here's one of them (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qqk8OHE-oY).
Here's a good forum (http://nature.gardenweb.com/forums/bluebird/) about bluebirds. Also get ready to start keeping live mealworms in your refrigerator!
31st of December 2008 (Wed), 16:30
Thanks Liz. I appreciate more advice. I havent really noticed many sparrows around here.. but have seen quite a few bluebirds. So I know they are here. :)
(mostly flying thru my back/front yard and landing on my fence)
Its pretty windy the last few days, so I havent gotten out to scout a good area to put the box.
4th of January 2009 (Sun), 19:35
Lots of good advice here... especially checking out sialis.org, and offering your Bluebirds mealworms.
We've hosted Bluebirds for the past 2 years and witnessed the successful fledging of 4 clutches of baby blues from our backyard boxes. It's a thrill to have them here and our very passion to photograph them (http://kenn3d.smugmug.com/keyword/bluebird#448651903_JYF8n).
We wish you success. :)
Kenn & Temple
7th of January 2009 (Wed), 03:08
There have been a few things that have helped us in the past years of raising Bluebirds.
If you haven't, put out a bird feeder and a birdbath. Our Bluebirds really like sunflower hearts and taking a bath.:) We noticed that they also preferred the nestbox that was facing south-east. So we put up another nest box with great success.
If you haven't seen many sparrows around they shouldn't be a problem. We have had problems with sparrows in the past but we put out another nestbox and there hasn't been a problem since.
As others have menchened sialis.org (http://www.sialis.org/index.html) is a very helpful site. Also put out your nestbox.:) Our Bluebirds start nesting in late February so we leave our nestboxes out year round.
Good Luck...They are really fun to watch.
7th of January 2009 (Wed), 08:53
How close can you put the nest boxes? I've got a small yard, so I probably can only put up one, but I have never seen any bluebirds here in the yard.
7th of January 2009 (Wed), 12:29
Were you ever able to get rid of the house sparrows? If they are still a problem, I'd advise against putting up a box at all. If not, try putting one up and see if any bluebirds show up this spring. I put up two boxes about 25 feet apart, one facing east and the other facing southwest. The east facing one is where I've had three chickadee and one bluebird nest, as well as a roosting downy woodpecker in the winter.
7th of January 2009 (Wed), 12:51
Ha, had no luck with that trap, but, there seems to be almost none out there now. I have cut way back on all foods but the sunflower seeds, which they don't like much. The box goes back out there this spring though. I am determined to get rid of them. I only had two here two years ago, then there were two dozen this fall. :(
8th of January 2009 (Thu), 16:40
Havent seen anymore bluebirds in awhile.
Ever since I put out the food.. its like they disappeared :(
I havent gotten the hosue up yet. Its been cold/rainy/windy lately
Hoping to within the next month.
Thanks again for all the great advice.
7th of February 2009 (Sat), 00:47
Western bluebirds summer and nest on the Front Range. We have a nest box on a tree just off our back porch. We have had bluebirds nesting their for the last two summers, and they produced two broods each summer. It has been a wonderful experience watching them raise their babies up close.
14th of February 2009 (Sat), 18:17
Well i'm pretty sure i'm seeing more and more sparrows. :(
I put up a feeder, which i'm having to refill in just a few days.. and have not
seen one blue bird.
I'm gonna hold off putting up the box till I can make a definate ID on those birds.
1st of March 2009 (Sun), 12:40
:)I have found that painting the bird house a flat light blue helps,,never a bright :ocolors...or leaveing it natural..is best...Ron...:rolleyes:
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