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Tips for attracting bluebirds and keeping them safe

Posted 6 March 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

On Saturday, March 1, as I walked out the door of my son’s metal barn, I noticed a male bluebird leaving the underside of the overhang on the east side.  The only reason I can think of for his being there was to raid a wasp’s nest tucked into the corner. If that is the case, it is an example of how bluebirds survive a winter such as the one we have gone through this year.

Over-wintering bluebirds are actively looking for nest sites as we have entered the month of March, though my suspicion is that their search is merely being intensified at this time.

Those hoping to attract our State Bird, might consider installing bluebird boxes. These should be located in open space, away from hedgerows but with scattered perches available. Fences and wires are great. Avoid heavily populated areas and active livestock barns. Put them on their own posts.

Once a female bluebird builds a nest, consider greasing the pole to discourage predation. Boxes should have inch and a half entrance holes, much smaller drainage holes, and provision for ventilation. Locate the entrance about seven inches above the floor. Score the inside of the door (below the entrance) to permit very desirable tree swallows to fledge should they use the boxes. Do not include a perch, but allow for a three-inch roof overhang. Face the box toward the east, southeast, or northeast.

If you are not serious about attracting bluebirds, do not put up a nestbox. If you are serious, keep track of what is going on in your nestbox and evict English (house) “sparrows.” They are the only so-called “sparrows” to nest in cavities. They often destroy adult and nestling bluebirds. The three dozen or so varieties of “self-respecting” native sparrows do not use boxes.

Attend the Orleans Bluebird Society meeting this April. Its date and time will appear in the Lake Country Pennysaver.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent
Albion