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Old 07-08-2011, 11:17 AM   #51
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Since you are lifting the nest, check for blow fly larvae. This is the time of year that I start to find them and you are south of me. The nest lifts easily in the box. As you sweep the ants out, look for any roundish, soft, dark colored maggots. They kill entire martin and bluebird clutches here. I have lifted nests to clean out blow fly larvae for years. If you don't get all of them, it's OK. They feed on the young at night and burrow to the bottom of the nest during the day. Afternoon is the best time to eliminate the majority of them. Good luck!
Thanks for the encouragement, fishlkmich.

I just came in from lifting the nest with a putty knife. I saw only on lone ant and none of their larvae. I didn't think I got rid of them all yesterday--I grabbed a handful of grass to use as a makeshift broom. Could they have left because of my disturbance? Or do you think they burrowed up into the grass of the nest?

I'll check back tomorrow...and look for blowfly larvae as well...I didn't notice anything, but hadn't read your post yet, so I was not actively looking.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:28 PM   #52
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You probably caused the ant colony to panic and move yesterday. I wouldn't worry about them anymore, unless you see a bunch. You may or may not ever have blow fly problems. I feel my way around, rather than look. When you lift the nest, reach in with the other hand and feel the floor of the bluebird house. If you feel some soft things that are BB size (or bigger), those are blow fly larvae. Just wipe them out onto the ground and they will die.

Blow fly know when to lay their eggs. Since you don't have young birds, you won't have blow fly larvae yet. Check for them about ten days after hatching. If you find them, check the nest for them every couple of days to keep the numbers down. A few won't hurt the birds. Large numbers will literally bleed them to death.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:37 PM   #53
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I hope you are right about the colony moving. I will check again for them...

Glad I don't have to worry about blowflies yet. ...Hmm...do you think that could've been the cause of death of the one or two birds that never fledged?
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Old 07-09-2011, 07:51 AM   #54
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Blow fly overload usually causes the loss of entire brood. Most of my tree swallow clutches lose the runt. Losing one bird from a brood is common. There is usually a runt that doesn't get enough food. It's nature and the reason for multiple eggs in multiple clutches. Losses are expected. When a runt shows up in a purple martin brood, can usually find a compartment with a small brood of the same size as the runt. I just move the runt in with birds of the same size. The adults could care less. It is messing with Mother Nature and natural selection. But, I'm messing with her by putting up housing. If push comes to shove, she will always win.
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Last edited by fishlkmich; 07-09-2011 at 07:54 AM. Reason: Add - Gone fishin' (Lake Michigan - salmon and trout) - I'll try to check in this week
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:10 AM   #55
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Blow fly overload usually causes the loss of entire brood. Most of my tree swallow clutches lose the runt. Losing one bird from a brood is common. There is usually a runt that doesn't get enough food. It's nature and the reason for multiple eggs in multiple clutches. Losses are expected. When a runt shows up in a purple martin brood, can usually find a compartment with a small brood of the same size as the runt. I just move the runt in with birds of the same size. The adults could care less. It is messing with Mother Nature and natural selection. But, I'm messing with her by putting up housing. If push comes to shove, she will always win.
Thank you for that. Very insightful.
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Old 07-17-2011, 08:17 PM   #56
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I checked on the bluebird eggs today. Two of the five have hatched. ~smile~

On the other hand, for more than a week, I've suspected that the tree swallows have either abandoned their nest (and eggs)...or something has happened to them.

In the past, I've never checked on the tree swallows...or very rarely. This year, I've opened the box every couple of days, then there was the day of Jeff's birthday party. We had quite a few people over, but because of the weather, we ended up being inside most of the day. I'm just wondering what happened to them. The eggs are still there unhatched.
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Old 07-17-2011, 09:15 PM   #57
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Dap, congratulations on your newly-hatched bluebird chicks! It is great to be able to say that to the "proud papa."
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:36 PM   #58
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Dap, congratulations on your newly-hatched bluebird chicks! It is great to be able to say that to the "proud papa."
Thanks Hedgerowe...although, I'll give credit where credit is due--the reall proud papa...maybe I can be an uncle or something. "Brother from another mother" kind of thing (I was trying to get something to rhyme with "another species" but no luck.)

It sure is great to be able to observe it though.
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Old 07-18-2011, 06:52 AM   #59
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I checked on the bluebird eggs today. Two of the five have hatched. ~smile~

On the other hand, for more than a week, I've suspected that the tree swallows have either abandoned their nest (and eggs)...or something has happened to them.

In the past, I've never checked on the tree swallows...or very rarely. This year, I've opened the box every couple of days, then there was the day of Jeff's birthday party. We had quite a few people over, but because of the weather, we ended up being inside most of the day. I'm just wondering what happened to them. The eggs are still there unhatched.
When I returned from my trip yesterday, the first thing that I noticed was the bluebirds being excited. Two of the four eggs had just hatched. Have you checked your nest again? You may have taken a look on hatching day, like I did. If we both end up with small, late broods, the young will get plenty to eat! I will check this nest for small blow fly larvae in about a week.

Nest abandonment is rare. I would guess that the female was taken by a predator, or met some other unfortunate end. Few male birds have a brood patch and assist in incubation. If the female is lost, the eggs are lost. A female bluebird abandoned a nest of young when her mate died in the box. I was surprised, but she must have known that pairing and starting another clutch was in the best interest of the species.

These things are what make this so interesting. It is hard at times, but always offers new questions and experiences.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:03 AM   #60
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Thanks, fishlkmich.

I was going to check back in the thread to see when I'm supposed to check for the blowfly larvae, now I don't have to.

Congratulations on your newest bluebird hatchlings as well.

I do feel badly to lose the tree swallows.I knew the males helped with the feeding, but I wasn't thinking about incubation...somewhere in my subconcious I guess I knew that was solely the female's job. Should I remove the nest and eggs, disinfect the box, and hope for new residents?

Is it too late for me to get any more?
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