Friday, May 28, 2010
The Bluebirds are back on GrannyMountain! I see them daily now at the birdhouses that my Father-in-law built for us. We started seeing them back in March, scoping out the "accomodations." We have the birdhouses placed at the edge of our yard, away from places where we walk often. Birds like privacy too!
Here's a list of some pointers if you want to attract Bluebirds...
•Ideally the box should be installed by mid-February, but you can still install one throughout the month of March and as late as early April when breeding begins. Because bluebirds begin their seasonal movements in February and male bluebirds begin establishing territory by mid-March, the box should be up as early as possible to increase the chance that it will be used. Once the female has arrived and chosen the nest site, it may be several weeks before the pair actually begin nestbuilding.
•Don't be discouraged if a bluebird pair does not choose your box right away or if you get the box up a little late in spring. Because of the shortage of suitable nesting sites, there's still a chance that a pair may come along in early summer that has been unsuccessful elsewhere. Also, you might get a tree swallow, chickadee or wren using your box instead. That's okay! These are native species, and they're using your box because there are not enough tree cavities in your area to go around. Put up more boxes!
•Face the opening of the box away from prevailing winds and in the direction of a distant tree if possible. The tree will become a landing point for young bluebirds when they first leave the box; they'll need a safe haven to avoid landing vulnerable on the ground.
•Bluebirds generally breed between April and the end of July. They may lay from three to six pale blue eggs per clutch, with an average of four or five. (Bluebirds often have at least 2 clutches and sometimes even 3 over the course of the breeding season.) The female incubates the eggs for 12 to 16 days, while the male assists in feeding her.
•You can check on the eggs and the nestlings once a week until the young are about 12 days old. Contrary to popular opinion, human "scent" does not cause the parent birds to abandon their young, because birds have a poor sense of smell. Take notes about what you find! After the birds are 12 days old, it will be best to observe the box from a distance, because disturbing the young later than this may cause them to "fledge" or leave the nest prematurely, which might reduce their chance of survival. Young bluebirds generally leave the nest between the 17th and 20th day after hatching.
•Once the young have left the nest you may clean the box out. Bluebirds typically re-nest a second and sometimes a third time during one season, and they frequently use the same box over.