Bluebird boxes

By jilladmin • February 22nd, 2016

bluebird

It’s pretending to be spring in Maine at the moment, with bare ground and warm temperatures (hey, anything above freezing is warm this time of year!), so I’m taking the opportunity to put up our tree swallow/bluebird houses before the scouts get here. Males of both target species arrive on the breeding grounds before the females, and they’re already in southern Maine – many bluebirds didn’t even bother to leave this winter, the weather has been so mild.

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We love hosting bluebirds and tree swallows – both birds are great at catching bugs, and anything that reduces the number of buzzing, biting insects here is very welcome. Houses are cleaned and emptied after every season with a dusting of diatomaceous earth sprinkled inside to make life unpleasant for lingering bird lice. It’s important to be vigilant when offering nest houses, as undesirable cavity nesters may compete lethally with the species we want. European House Sparrows (HOSPs) will build nests right on top of occupied nests, killing the previous occupants. Properly locating and patrolling your nest boxes is very important to reduce HOSP predation on desirable birds: Getting Started with Bluebirds

Unfortunately, our houses were up and unmonitored in Benton for a summer during our move to Pittsfield, before they were brought here and stored in the barn. While cleaning the houses today, I found graphic evidence of just how lethal HOSPs can be – the mummified remains of a tree swallow and her brood, suffocated by the nest a HOSP built right over them. A sad lesson learned, and the boxes won’t go unmonitored again.

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