Bobs Backyard Bluebird blog
Last year the house sparrows got my baby bluebirds. So this year I am doing all I can to protect the bluebirds from the House Sparrows. First, I replaced my nest boxes with slotted holes to try to keep the house Sparrows from using them. I did some research and found Sparrows do not like slotted holes, although they are using my other box. There are other things you can do to help control the sparrows. Feed certain type of food the sparrows don’t like, my problem is they like most anything; another one was a sparrow spooker. A spooker is a device to deter sparrows from entering the bluebird box and destroying the eggs or babies. The device mounts to the back of the box and forms a V shape with Mylar streamers hanging down which blow in the wind. The last was to place mealworms.
Around the beginning of April, I noticed the bluebirds were in the backyard looking at the box. A few days later I checked the box and nesting material was starting to fill the cavity. I kept checking the box off and on for a few days and found a nest was created. On April 13, 2013 I found 4 beautiful blue eggs in the box. I also noticed that the female was staying in the box, incubating the eggs the male kept bring her food. He would land with the food and she would come out of the box to get it.
On April 21 I noticed both the birds going to and from the box with food they caught in various places thoughout the neighborhood. The Bird were go to and from Continuously from dawn to dusk carrying food to the babies. On April 22, I checked the box and found four Bluebird babies. I continued to watch and photograph the birds as they came and went with food.
In order to help the bluebirds find food I ordered some Mealworms and a mealworm feeder. The Mealworm feeder should be of the type that the mealworms can’t crawl out of it. I tried a make shift feeder last year and the worms just crawled out of it so it was worthless. My order arrived and I placed the feeder in nearby to the nest box. I placed mealworms in it and waited to see the bluebirds go to it. The bluebirds did not come to it. They just continued to fly off and find other food which they had no trouble in finding.
I thought how I am going to get the bluebirds to come to the mealworm feeder. So I placed some mealworms on the ground and on a stone block. I thought that they might be more apt to come to the worm if they were on the ground or where they could see them. Soon after I moved back the female came right down to the ground to get the mealworms. They actually started scarfing up the mealworms as fast as they could. They would eat some and have some in their beaks. Sometimes they wouldn't leave until they had 10-15 worms in their mouths
After feeding them on the ground for a few days, they became very accustomed to me and figured out that if they saw me they would be getting mealworms. So I w as able to get fairly close to the birds. Whenever I went to the backyard the birds would fly over and land on the electrical wires to the house, waiting for me to place the mealworms on the ground. As usual I placed some on the ground, but I placed some in the feeder. As they flew down to the ground to gather up the worms, the female went to the top of the feeder stand and looked down at the feeder full of mealworms.
Suddenly she flew into the feeder and started eating the worms like there no tomorrow. The male joined her after he cleaned up the ground and block. They would eat up a quite a few then off to the box to feed the growing babies. A ritual was unfolding as the adults took turns in gather the food and feeding the babies.
Each day as they saw me coming with a cup full of mealworms they would instinctively fly over to the wires above the feeder and wait for the fresh worms. Once they were in the feeder the feeding frenzy would start. It seemed like they were starving, but I think they eat as many as possible in the shortest amount of time to keep other birds from getting the worms. They would eat, fly to the box, feed the babies and return to the wires then one at a time come back to the feeder to do it all over again. The bluebirds had accepted me and would allow me to get very close around 10 feet or so. This allowed me the luxury of being able to get photos of the bluebirds. My favorite was getting flight shots as the came in to feed.
On May 7 I was taking photos of the birds going to the box. I noticed some movement in the top of the box. Looking through the lens I noticed one of the babies was at the slotted opening of the box. It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but the babies were big enough to fledge. I kept watching the parents continue to bring food
The next morning after I saw the baby in the hole, I went out to place some mealworms in the feeder as I had been doing, they didn’t come. They were nowhere to be found, I opened the box and found the babies were gone as well. I believe my goal was fulfilled as the bluebirds fledged. I haven’t seen any babies so I can’t be sure, but my research reveals that the adult bluebirds hide the babies for 10-12 days before they bring them to the feeder. After seeing the baby at the top of the box, my expectations are that they fledged and are with the parents.
Since the Fledging, the adults have visited a few times to gather up mealworms and fly off, hopefully to the babies. I am keeping mealworms available to see if they do bring the babies back. With all expectation I should see a fledgling with an adult looking for mealworms.
May 31, 2013 Since I wrote this blog I have not seen the fledgling, I had the adult come back to the feeder a few times and fly off to distant location. Lately I have not seen the adults. Once is a while I hear the adult singing in the distant.
Oh, by the way, once the bluebirds abandoned the nest box, the house sparrows immediately took over and laid eggs.
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