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Old 04-03-2010, 09:53 PM   #1
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eyesx The Bluebird Trail 2010 - CAUTION GRAPHIC!

Saturday, March 27th, 2010 was a perfect day to get started on my bluebird trail and purple martin colony for the season. The weather was warm for this time of year in mid-Michigan. We had not had rain for a while and the snow left us early this year, so everything was dry. I packed everything that I thought I might need for the day and made the 40 mile trip to the closest purple martin colony to my home.

The first thing on my list to do was to check and clean out the 14 bluebird boxes. As I expected, I found a few house sparrow nests getting started and set a few in-box traps. I raised both 12 unit aluminum houses and got the wooden, 8 compartment, Northstar martin house up. I raised the custom 12 unit house, made of "plastic wood", but left the compartments closed because house sparrows seem to love this new addition. The rack with 8 plastic gourds would wait until Friday, April 2nd, when I could supply some necessary replacement parts. I trapped one male house sparrow.

Friday, I returned to repair the gourd rack. I made my usual rounds to the bluebird houses first, removing house sparrow nests and placing traps in the bluebird houses being used by house sparrows. What I found in one of the houses was no surprise to me. Tree swallows have returned to the site during the past week. I would guess that there were about a dozen checking out houses and doing what tree swallows do. In a bluebird box, with no nesting material whatsoever in it, was the bloody body of a tree swallow that had been trapped in the box by a house sparrow. I see this every year, during the time that nesting compartments are being claimed. The bluebird, or tree swallow, is trapped by the house sparrow and pecked to death. Last year I lost one adult male bluebird and one adult tree swallow to house sparrow attacks before nesting began. The attack is usually to the back of the head, opening it up. This time the house sparrow went for the throat and beak. I trapped two more house sparrows and I'll go back soon to do it again. This tree swallow probably just made the migration from Florida to end up another HOSP victim.
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:55 PM   #2
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Today, 4/4/10, I found no more fatalities. I managed to trap three more house sparrows. I saw one male purple martin and have a bluebird nest already completed, since Friday. The tree swallows are still dueling over the available housing. They should begin nesting this week.
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:20 PM   #3
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Good job trapping the English house sparrows.

Did you construct your own gourd rack?
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:51 AM   #4
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Thanks.

I bought the gourd rack. I wanted to add some large compatments to the existing Grandpa Trios, with 6"X6"X6" compartments and didn't have a lot of time. It's a plasticraft/Natureline product:
Natureline Eight Gourd Rack System Without Pole - NL15310

I trapped one male house sparrow yesterday. There are so many tree swallows now that I believe the house sparrows may be giving up on this spot for the season. I only found two partial HOSP nests.

The bluebirds have four eggs in the nest that I found last weekend and I put up a sparrow spooker to protect the eggs and female. Another bluebird nest was started during the past week, as well. I'm now guessing that the tree swallows are putting off nesting for another week, or two.
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Last edited by fishlkmich; 04-12-2010 at 11:54 AM. Reason: New tree swallow assumption
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:13 PM   #5
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He's using synthetic gourds, Natureline II 11" Gourds, Crescent SREH, 8 Pack at BestNest.com. He doesn't have what we have. The synthetic gourds are easier to clean and last longer.
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:05 PM   #6
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We have a member who has posted another very real threat to bluebirds and purple martins-
http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...-egg-nest.html
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:13 PM   #7
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Fortunately, I've never had to deal with that problem, too.

Yesterday, the 18th, I could count a dozen martins at the site. The tree swallows are just starting to put some grass in some boxes. The four bluebird eggs are doing fine. I trapped one house sparrow and removed a house sparrow nest and one egg from one of my martin houses. If they continue to attempt to nest in this house it will be difficult to trap them.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:01 AM   #8
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Can anyone spot what's gonna have to be sent to HOSP heaven in this photo??? There are 4 of these martin houses. Two are loaded with martins.
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:50 AM   #9
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Close by, Equil?
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:59 AM   #10
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Went out after work yesterday, 4/20. The house sparrows have abandoned the martin housing! Had one incomplete HOSP nest in a bluebird box, but trapping time was limited. There were more martins than I saw on Sunday. About half of the tree swallows have claimed boxes and started to add grasses. We have rain coming, so if I don't get out after work on Friday, I won't be checking nests for about a week. By then, some tree swallows should be adding feathers to their nests and I would expect some martins to start building nests, but the rain could delay things.
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2010, bird, bird eggs, birds, blue birds, bluebird, caution, eliminate house sparrows, graphic, hosp, hosp trap, house sparow, house sparrow, house sparrows, martins, nesting, nests, purple martin, purple martin housing, purple martins, trail, trap house sparrows, tree swallows

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