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Old 05-07-2011, 09:46 PM   #21
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Good news! The top box that lost all its eggs now has 3 new ones. I saw the mom nervously hovering nearby while I was there. Again I checked the predator guard for any signs like scratch marks for the cause. Nothing.

I am hoping this next clutch survives.
Me too. Keep us posted.

I'm still waiting for five eggs to hatch.
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:28 AM   #22
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The babies are now about 10 or 11 days old, I'll stop opening the box to prevent premature fledging so this is my last nest check. They sure are getting big and their eyes are open. You can see some blue feathers starting to come in.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:35 AM   #23
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The babies are now about 10 or 11 days old, I'll stop opening the box to prevent premature fledging so this is my last nest check. They sure are getting big and their eyes are open. You can see some blue feathers starting to come in.

Wonderful picture, linrose.

We were out of town a lot the first year we had bluebirds. I missed out on most of it, but I was still happy to know they were there.

Last year is the first time I did nest checks and documented the event with photos. I hope to do the same this year.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:25 AM   #24
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Cute little ear tufts.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:23 PM   #25
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Maybe I've gotten hardened but when I went to check on the upper bluebird box I found 5 dead chicks and it didn't upset me. I knew that that box had predators, wrens or cowbirds or whatever before and I had hoped after the first clutch of eggs were removed and a second set were laid that they may have a fighting chance of survival. They did hatch, but unfortunately either the parents were killed or the chicks were killed soon after. Seeing flies on the box and when I approached the smell indicated to me that they did not survive.

I will relocate the box to a place I think will be safer for the bluebirds. It will be further away from the woodland edge and far enough away from the other box to prevent territory issues.

Perhaps I am heartened to know at least one clutch of five have survived already this year and I see evidence of new nest building in the same box. I see the young in a group on my fence every morning, trying to spot their next meal in the field below. I don't know the percentage of success in fledging bluebirds but I'm hoping it is better than 50/50.

My heart may not be so hard the next time I come upon the same scene.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:41 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by linrose View Post
Maybe I've gotten hardened but when I went to check on the upper bluebird box I found 5 dead chicks and it didn't upset me. I knew that that box had predators, wrens or cowbirds or whatever before and I had hoped after the first clutch of eggs were removed and a second set were laid that they may have a fighting chance of survival. They did hatch, but unfortunately either the parents were killed or the chicks were killed soon after. Seeing flies on the box and when I approached the smell indicated to me that they did not survive.

I will relocate the box to a place I think will be safer for the bluebirds. It will be further away from the woodland edge and far enough away from the other box to prevent territory issues.

Perhaps I am heartened to know at least one clutch of five have survived already this year and I see evidence of new nest building in the same box. I see the young in a group on my fence every morning, trying to spot their next meal in the field below. I don't know the percentage of success in fledging bluebirds but I'm hoping it is better than 50/50.

My heart may not be so hard the next time I come upon the same scene.
I need to develop some of that toughness, Linrose. When the wrens did the same thing to my chickadees, I was overwhelmed with anger and other disgusted emotions.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:32 PM   #27
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I had the same thing happen to one of my bluebird boxes I had placed near my house and near the wooded area. House wrens attacked the chickadee nest and eggs already there and so I removed the box entirely.

That was my first experience with nest predation. I've since had other predators at the nest boxes and have added predator guards on the posts for climbing predators like snakes, raccoons, cats etc. along with metal hole guards for gnawing mammals like squirrels but have not added anything against birds. I know we don't have HOSPs but we did have a problem with house wrens until I took that particular box down.

It is hard to see, especially when you get emotionally involved with the nesting birds. My only note of consolation would be that even in natural cavity nests the fledging rate of birds is probably similar if not worse. It helps to know we are providing nesting places that might not exist at all in certain environments. If we can change box locations or otherwise discourage predatious birds it can only help. For instance I did not know that millet is a favorite of HOSPs so it should be avoided in all feeders. Now I only use black oil sunflower seed in my feeders.

I had a crisis of conscience of sorts when I first decided to put up nest boxes. First I felt that I was being a bit selfish in wanting to see the birds up close, then I worried that I would be responsible for their well-being because of it, and then finally I hoped I might actually help the bluebird population increase in this area. That led to more interest in wildlife, etc and so here I am!

Anyhow I guess what I'm trying to say is when you get involved you do have to deal with both the joys and the tragedies of the natural world we observe. Hopefully what we do only helps species survive and flourish, sometimes it doesn't work out well and we have to deal with that too. I've heard some say it's better to take down all nest boxes so as not to sabotage birds but I don't believe that if you can remedy the predation problem as much as possible.

It hurts to see something you care for being attacked that way, I know. Learning more about what you can do to alleviate the situation helps alot.
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:04 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by linrose View Post
I had the same thing happen to one of my bluebird boxes I had placed near my house and near the wooded area. House wrens attacked the chickadee nest and eggs already there and so I removed the box entirely.

That was my first experience with nest predation. I've since had other predators at the nest boxes and have added predator guards on the posts for climbing predators like snakes, raccoons, cats etc. along with metal hole guards for gnawing mammals like squirrels but have not added anything against birds. I know we don't have HOSPs but we did have a problem with house wrens until I took that particular box down.

It is hard to see, especially when you get emotionally involved with the nesting birds. My only note of consolation would be that even in natural cavity nests the fledging rate of birds is probably similar if not worse. It helps to know we are providing nesting places that might not exist at all in certain environments. If we can change box locations or otherwise discourage predatious birds it can only help. For instance I did not know that millet is a favorite of HOSPs so it should be avoided in all feeders. Now I only use black oil sunflower seed in my feeders.

I had a crisis of conscience of sorts when I first decided to put up nest boxes. First I felt that I was being a bit selfish in wanting to see the birds up close, then I worried that I would be responsible for their well-being because of it, and then finally I hoped I might actually help the bluebird population increase in this area. That led to more interest in wildlife, etc and so here I am!

Anyhow I guess what I'm trying to say is when you get involved you do have to deal with both the joys and the tragedies of the natural world we observe. Hopefully what we do only helps species survive and flourish, sometimes it doesn't work out well and we have to deal with that too. I've heard some say it's better to take down all nest boxes so as not to sabotage birds but I don't believe that if you can remedy the predation problem as much as possible.

It hurts to see something you care for being attacked that way, I know. Learning more about what you can do to alleviate the situation helps alot.
Well said! My plan is to take down all nesting boxes just as soon as these wrens fledge. It's the last box that is up. I'll try that with the hope they will find another location to spend their summers. Then I'll try again in a couple of years.

There was a time, seven or eight years ago, when I had nesting tree swallows each year. HOSPs and now House Wrens have seen to the end of that. What made this particular experience so infuriating for me was that I had just succeeded in eliminating HOSPs from the area. I haven't seen one since very early in the Spring and I caught and destroyed those.

I originally put up the boxes because, at least in my area, it's common practice for folks to rid their properties of snags. Nesting sites for cavity nesting birds are at a premium here.
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Old 05-31-2011, 05:09 PM   #29
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The HOSPs deleted the swallows from my area as well darn them! Not a ONE this year!
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Old 06-30-2011, 08:51 PM   #30
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The second brood is about to fledge. I checked on them this evening, and I couldn't help but pet the head of one of the nestlings carefully with one finger. It was so soft and warm! I'll never forget that feeling.
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