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Old 04-19-2010, 02:36 PM   #1
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Default Bluebird and ? egg in nest

I've been monitoring my bluebird boxes and today I found one bluebird egg and one egg that could possible be a HOSP egg but I'm not sure. If it was a HOSP why is the bluebird egg still there? Did the bluebird lay the egg after the HOSP? I haven't seen any HOSPs around but this box is the furthest away from the house in the corner of the field where I can't see it.

Here is a photo, I tried not to disturb the nest.

What should I do now? Should I put up a sparrow spooker? I know male HOSPs bond with the nestbox they pick out so I'm not sure it will work. Should I remove the HOSP egg? I have another box with 5 bluebird eggs in it and is now being incubated. Should I protect it with another sparrow spooker now?

I'm freaking out because this year I really tried to do it right and put all my houses on metal poles with predator guards and have been watching for house wrens and sparrows. I'd like to see bluebirds fledge this year.
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Old 04-19-2010, 02:50 PM   #2
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I believe that is a cowbird egg-
Cowbird eggs in nestboxes
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:00 PM   #3
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Default Cowbird eggs in nestboxes

Cowbird eggs in nestboxes-
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Solutions: Like it or not, cowbirds are native, so they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means that eggs can not be removed from nests without a permit. Special permits have been obtained to kill cowbirds that congregate in enormous flocks and are considered a nuisance. In some spots in states like MI and TX, permits can be obtained to trap cowbirds to protect endangered species like Kirtland's Warblers.
  • Avoid offering millet (little tan round seeds in inexpensive mixes) in feeders, as it may attract cowbirds. Offering mealworms as supplemental food may increase the odds that the parent birds biological nestlings survive. Some bluebird monitors do toss cowbird eggs, or remove House Sparrow eggs from House Sparrow nests and replace them with Cowbird eggs.
  • Keith Kridler found that attaching strawberry basket to a tree limb with a fake nest in it fools cowbirds into laying. Predators soon learn where these unguarded nests are.
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:28 PM   #4
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I feel much better now, thank you TheLorax! The HOSP eggs and cowbird eggs look so much alike in pictures. I got my husband all jazzed up, I put him to work immediately on a sparrow spooker! We just started a business out of our house and he's just getting used to us being together 24/7. Instead of a coffee break today he had "arts and crafts" time!
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:45 PM   #5
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Of course, if you were to closely examine the cowbird egg, in order to positively ID it and it just happened to drop, I wouldn't feel bad about it at all.

I don't always follow the speed limit and I jaywalk. One less cowbird and several more bluebirds is what my choice would be.
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:55 PM   #6
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Every state needs the laws that Texas has, when it comes to these birds:

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publicat...w7000_1148.pdf
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Old 04-19-2010, 04:09 PM   #7
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Oh yes indeed. Very good suggestion fishlkmich. Close up pictures of the egg to better enable a positive identification would be absolutely wonderful.
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:51 AM   #8
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You can put a sparrow spooker up soon as a first egg is laid. Some people wait until a second egg is laid and some wait until she starts incubating the eggs. That egg on the right looks all nice and clean but that egg on the left seems to be a dust magnet. I wonder why that is???? It definitely looks a little bit dusty don't you think? Maybe you could hone up on your bluebird nestbox dusting skills by dusting it off.... before you take another photo for id purposes then maybe you should move that egg somewhere where it won't get so dusty.
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:47 AM   #9
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Once the first egg is laid, the bond between the female bird and the nest is so strong that she will not abandon the nest because a sparrow spooker is placed. Since incubation does not begin until the second to last (or last) egg is laid, placing a spooker before the incubation process begins protects the nest from the time that the spooker is placed and prevents a possible time lapse during the incubation process which could kill the embryos.
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:42 AM   #10
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Thanks for the clarification on when to place sparrow spookers. I think it's too late for the first box, but not too late for this new one. I'm going to check later today for a new egg to make sure the bluebirds haven't abandoned the nest.

I didn't realize what a problem cowbirds were. Thanks for the link to the Texas website. Kentucky's largest farm revenue comes from raising beef cattle and there are several farms in the county, not to mention horses and other livestock, so I'm not surprised there a a lot of cowbirds around. I don't think I've ever noticed them before but I'll be watching from now on. I guess that's all I can do until they change the laws in Kentucky. I think Mississippi and California have similar laws. I don't know about any other states.
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