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Click to go to Audubon Society of Omaha Home Page Audubon Society of OmahaEastern Bluebird

Welcome to The Bluebird Box since 1995
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists Classified

Attracting Bluebirds

Also see Feeding Mealworms


Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 16:51:17 -0500
From: Bill & Dot Forrester wforres1"at"twcny.rr.com
Subject: blue cloth on post to attract bluebird?

Hi all,

I just bought a Stokes bluebird video on eBay for my small-group presentations. The seller, from Texas, happened to mention that she just put up her first bluebird box last week. She said that someone from the Audubon Society told her to attach a loose piece of blue fabric to the nestbox pole - that the color would attract bluebirds. Has anyone heard this before? I didn't want to write back and say that it sounds like a nutty idea until I checked it out. In the meantime, I sent her some bluebird links. You just never know how or when a chance will come to spread some bluebird info!

Dot


Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 17:00:16 -0600 (CST)
From: waterrapids"at"webtv.net (PROFESSOR BLUE FOOTED BOOBY)
Subject: Re: blue cloth on post to attract bluebird?

In early spring, when bluebirds begin pair bonding, the males become territorial / During this time males will defend territory by chasing other males from the area.

The presence of bluebird decoys can and will attract bluebirds to nesting boxes, thinking it is another male to chase away / All of my boxes have an attraction device (decoy) in the form of a wooden flag painted blue.

Nesting site usage at boxes w/decoys has increased (doubled) from those nesting boxes without decoys / When bluebirds are searching for sites to nest, the decoy is a calling card that works in attracting.

Years ago I read about this in one of the NORTH AMERICAN BLUEBIRD SOCIETY QUARTERLIES / Over a three year period I tested this at the AUDUBON SANCTUARY, Slough Creek, Perry Lake Kansas, and found that the presence of an attraction device (decoy) did indeed aid in attraction and usage of nesting boxes on that trail, as well as other trails.

It is my firm belief that decoys DO attract, and I do not mount nesting boxes without decoys as the "proof is in the pudd'in".

"ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST AND FOUND THE BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS"

"HAPPY BIRDING"
Professor B.F. Booby

http://www.homestead.com/BLUEBIRDSOVERAMERICA/BLUEBIRDS.html


Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 21:47:38 EST
From: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
Subject: Re: blue cloth on post to attract bluebird?

For our good Professor Booby and Others who use blue lures,

Are the lures - blue cloth or blue painted wooden flag - removed after birds are established in the box or do these remain in place throughout the season?

Tom in NW Florida


Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 07:04:47 -0600 (CST)
From: waterrapids"at"webtv.net (PROFESSOR BLUE FOOTED BOOBY)
Subject: BLUEBIRD ATTRACTION DEVICE (DECOYS)

BARRY, DAN, TOM, OTHERS

The flag is made of the same material as the nesting box (cedar) / 3/4 inch thick / A triangle with one side 8inch x 7inch x 3inch / Somewhat
shaped like the profile of a bluebird.

My roofs are sloped, hinged (front and side opening boxes put broods at risk if opened ten days after hatching as they can cause early fledging) and I mount the flag on the side of the top opening roof toward the back or peak of the roof / Two galvanized screws secure it to the side of the top at the highest point (imagine a triangle mailbox flag) painted blue.

I leave the flags on the boxes as the males use them for a perch after nesting has begun.

Note: I also have a 30 degree sloped front that is recessed 1 1/2 inches in from the sides with an extended roof that extends 6 1/2 inches over the opening that is at the top of the front / I also use a piece of 3x7 inch mesh just under the roof that covers the opening with the 1 1/2 inch clearance/ It is 1x1 vinyl coated 12 gauge steel / These features are real built-in predator guards and cuts down on HOSP usage as well I have had NO raccoon or cat predation with this design. Added wooden blocks are ineffectual in keeping predators out.

Hope I have answered your questions, and please feel free to e-mail anytime!

....
Professor B.F. Booby


Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 09:47:55 -0500
From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Blue(blau, bleu, azul,seenyi)

To: The List,
Someone this past year, I forget who, suggested painting the whole house Bluebird-blue, and someone else suggested just painting the roof. I don't think sufficient empirical data is in on those techniques yet. (And I'm sure there are people out there who actually paint Bluebirds on their houses. Whatever works is good, right? [WWIG]).

I have never caught a House Sparrow by any other means than grabbing her(him) off the nest. This method takes a lot of stealth. When I have the !"at"#$! thing in hand, I throw him with maximum force against the nearest hard object, - in NH usually a nearby granite boulder or outcrop. My fastball was once clocked at 88 mph, but no more. Nowadays it would be more like 44, but it's always sufficient. Wringing the necks is easier and quicker , but a lot of folks would find that a little too macabre. I don't have a raptor center nearby, unfortunately. One lady I know over in Greater Grantham, gives her trapped HOSP to a friend down the street who has a pet (rehabbed) Horned Owl. I've also shot quite a few with my old Daisy BB gun, but it's a primitive and ineffective weapon. I'm too cheap to buy a really good pellet gun with scope. (about $100) I feel very strongly that we should NOT simply release them on someone else's turf. Our aim should be to ELIMINATE them, in my opinion, not just move them somewhere else. Moving them strike's me as pure NIMBYism.

Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy, Sunapee NH
blueburd"at"srnet.com


Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 10:10:47 EST
From: KKaylor445"at"aol.com
Subject: Fwd: blue cloth on post to attract bluebird?

Hi Karen,

That is most interesting! I am going to try it this year if the snow ever melts so I can get to my boxes. I hope you will send your post to the entire list
(please!), as most northerners have apparently never heard this suggestion before and are interested in whether or not it might work.

Thanks,
Dot

KKaylor445"at"aol.com wrote:

Dear Dot:

Last year I had to "plug" one of my bluebird nestboxes with a rag which
happened to be blue (just by coincidence). A house sparrow was determined to
claim the nestbox and that's why I temporarily plugged it.

Within half an hour, two female bluebirds were on the box. One was actually
trying to yank out the blue rag from the hole.

You can draw your own conclusion from that episode.

- Karen Kaylor
Chicora, PA


Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 12:37:33 EST
From: Birderinkansas"at"aol.com
Subject: Bluebird Decoys

Hello all. I finally put up my BB box yesterday (better late than never I hope!). I made a decoy out of scrap wood. Went all out on this thing...white belly, orange shoulder, bright blue. I went back through the archives, & only found the 1 thread for the decoys, so I gotta ? for you guys experienced with the decoys. Should I have used cloth (for movement), or will the blue attract him (if they're there, which according to the locals, they are)? How long do you usually wait before you get some activity? (I know this may be variable, from a day to a year, just wondering your experiences with the decoys). I'm guessing that they've already chosen the spots for their first nests, but am hoping I can catch a late one, or at least the next clutch. Thanks for the help!

James Y.
Washington, KS


Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 09:12:51 -0800 (PST)
From: Horace Sher hjsher1"at"yahoo.com
Subject: Re: Bluebird Decoys

Hi Bruce..I confirmed myself that the blue thing will attract the Bluebirds to the box. I have 2 old blue shirts. Sort of threw each one hanging down from each of 2 boxes. One of the boxes I hadn't seen any Bluebirds around it all day the other day. In the afternoon within a couple hours of trying this, a male EABL went to both boxes which had the blue shirt hanging around it...Horace in NC.


Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 16:07:28 -0500
From: ds"at"comteck.com
Subject: Blue Shirt as decoy!

I have had my 2 BB boxes up for practically a month w/ no sign so any BB's at all. I heard about the decoy's/ blue material for some time now, but didn't know what I really wanted to use ect. Well, after I read Horace's email about using old blue shirts & having a BB come around I had to try it. So that day I got one of my Dad's old blue shirts ( it isn't a solid color has some small stripes on it) it is a kind of bright blue..not really light, but not dark. Well, this was on the 27th. Today I sat out just watching my birds at my feeders when a blue birds out back of the trailer caught my eye by flying up & landing on the Chickadee nestbox. It was a very very dark blue...I thought could it be, but then as it sat on the C. house I thought maybe I am just seeing things. *I didn't have my binocs.....Well, it finally flew off the C. house so I got up slowly n went to the edge of the garage & once again it was on the ground n flew up to a tree branch, so I went quickly to the house to grab my binocs n went back out. When I went back to where I saw it before it wasn't there so I just kept slowly walking past the garage n shed nearby n still couldn't find it then all of a sudden it
perched on a tree near the BB box. So I searched for it w/ the binocs which at first I couldn't find it then I finally got it right the second time & there I finally found out which kind of blue bird it was it was my first Male E. Bluebird EVER! So I have to say that I think the blue shirt I put out, like Horace did, actually works!

So now the question remains if this really means a good sign for me or not? Any advice, opinions, statements from anyone please let me know ect.

Joleen in NorthCentral Indiana on the Eastern side


Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 18:49:33 -0500
From: ds"at"comteck.com
Subject: Re: Blue Shirt as decoy!

Thank you, Haleya, for the congratulations. I will wait, watch n keep reading the posts...no doubt about that. I have learned alot just the short while I have been on here. I love all the info.

Well, I went & bought a BB feeder just to be safe....after I put it up I looked inside the BB box the male was near & found 2 poop droppings.....it could have been him in there checking it out or a few other thoughts such as another kind of bird. I don't think anyone is using it to roost as there would be more droppings than that.

Joleen in Indiana


Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 19:03:53 -0500
From: "Katherine S. Wolfthal" kate"at"nirvana.weichi.com
Subject: Re: Blue Shirt as decoy!

ds"at"comteck.com wrote:

I don't think anyone is using it to roost as there would be more droppings than that.

Joleen in Indiana

Not necessarily. I have a downy roosting in one of my boxes - I know he comes and goes, because I find small feathers inside and near the entrance hole and wood chips in the box - but never a single poop.

I think he just sleeps there, and does his other business elsewhere.

--
Katherine
Weston, MA


Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 19:04:02 -0500
From: ds"at"comteck.com
Subject: Re: Blue Shirt as decoy!

I checked it the day that I put the shirt around it & there was no poop inside which was on the 27th n now on the 29th I check it & there is poop there. I have no clue how long my male BB has been here. But no one will ever know the mystery poop. I am going to hold onto it is my lil male BB's droppings. Cuz I want to hope that he will nest in that box.


Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2001 20:36:16 -0700
From: Michael Barratt cantona"at"optonline.net
Subject: Attracting other nesting EABL

All,

A question for all you seasoned bluebirders out there. For the last 6 weeks I have had 3 EABL (2 male, 1 female) visiting my mealworm feeder on a daily basis. Naturally I have been keeping this stocked up as the weather has been quite cold and wet. About 2 weeks ago, one of the males started distancing himself from the other 2 (who obviously seemed to be paired). The second male would still come with the other 2, but would sit by himself in a different tree. Now finally I haven't seen the 'loner' for a couple of weeks, while the other 2 visit a couple of times a day. I suspect that the lone male was forced off the territory by the dominant pair. However, the pair show no interest in any of the 3 boxes I have around my yard, despite the fact they know they are there (I have occasionally seen one of them perched at the entrance - & they are all in 'good' BB locations). There are no displays or frequent landing on boxes/male encouragment etc that typify the claim of a box. They always fly off in the same direction, towards some local open land/lake a half or mile or so away, where I presume they have a 'natural' nest site.

I would of course like to have EABL use a box in my yard; question is, will providing a constant supply of mealworms which bring this pair back daily keep other males (such as the 'loner') from claiming my boxes? I am certain that the pair that visit must be nesting/chosen a site at least a quarter to half mile away, so technically my feeder is off their nesting grounds. As the weather is slowly improving and more natural food is around (so I am not so concerned about their survival any more), should I stop my feeding on the basis that this pair may be keeping other males away from good thing?

Anyone had similar experiences? Any suggestions, or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, can others in the NJ/PA/NY area let me know whether they have had much nest building yet this year?

Thanks in advance!

Mike Barratt
Northwest NJ.


Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 22:31:52 EDT
From: Dinlows"at"aol.com
Subject: Re: Attracting other nesting EABL

Hello Mike and All,
This year I have had 2 males and 1 female around and I just kept feeding mealies. Finally the one male left and the pair have started a nest. I felt that if they didn't nest at least I would see them when they came to feed. I feed 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and they are always there waiting for me.
Last year was my first year and I had just the one pair of EABL. They had 8 babies in all fledge last year; hoping for more this year!
Linda - Ind.


Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 09:58:25 -0700 (PDT)
From: Horace Sher hjsher1"at"yahoo.com
Subject: Attracting other nesting EABL

Hello Mike..I have almost exactly the identical situation as you have, except I feed the EABL Dogwood berries, raisins, & sometimes peanut
butter suet. I kept seeing a pair show up for the food. But now I've confirmed that they are actually nesting in my neighbor's box down the
street a couple blocks away. (Saw them fly in his direction & to his box.) The funny thing is that I went & got the box & pole, etc. for him & put
it up for him as I had suggested to him to put up a EABL box. His box is hidden from mine by trees & a house. Ok, it of course doesn't bother me at all that I'm feeding his birds, but I'm also reasonablly sure that there is another pair hanging around & may be interested in 1 of my other boxes. It's just very nice & comforting to see EABL come into the yard whether they be mine or anyone else's. To answer your specific question about continuing to put out the mealies..what I would do is to just put out a "smaller" portion for a little while longer to see whether other EABL come to eat. The weather here in NC is supposed to be very spring-like starting tomorrow & I think the birds will be less dependent on supplemental food, hopefully in your area. I don't think your pair from that other nesting site(1/4 mi. away chased off the loner unless you saw them doing it a few times.) I think the loner is hanging around somewhere & may get a mate as the weather improves in your area....Horace in NC.


Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001 16:12:10 -0700
From: "Lonn and Linda" solong"at"teleport.com
Subject: grubs not exactly worth fighting over

Lonn in Roseburg, Oregon

The bluebirds (WEBL) I occasionally feed mealworms, if stressed, continue their repeat visits if even there are no grubs, as the Bluebird is mainly a flying off a branch, swooping down to the ground, and taking home his grub, which is what I mean an insect, not a mealworm. They look for food and maybe like the box I gave them to have and sometimes just for fun I open the compost box lid so they can see all the things they really like about this place.

I would of course like to have EABL use a box in my yard; question is, will providing a constant supply of mealworms which bring this pair back daily keep other males (such as the 'loner') from claiming my boxes? I am certain that the pair that visit must be nesting/chosen a site at least a quarter to half mile away, so technically my feeder is off their nesting grounds. As the weather is slowly improving and more natural food is around (so I am not so concerned about their survival any more), should I stop my feeding on the basis that this pair may be keeping other males away from good thing?


Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 22:25:53 -0400 (EDT)
From: BluDahlia"at"webtv.net (George Newberger)
Subject: Blue shirt ,flag,image

Hi all ; Some time ago there were several posts on the subject of attracting bluebirds by hanging a blue shirt ,towel or what ever, on the nestbox post-- or attaching a wooden image resembling a bird and painted blue;to the high point of the box.Taking this as gospel ,I made about a dozen of these images painted them and fastened them to boxes---for those at a distance,I have to look twice to determine whether it's a EABL or not !

Last Saturday I had a BB booth at a garden club May Mart (plant sale) so I took a vacant nestbox for demonstration purposes---it had one of the BB images attached. I had numerous questions as to it's purpose and I generally replied that it was an old wives tale,and explained. Earlier this season I set up a BB box in a site that I thought would attract chickadees---which it did (first ever ). the site is a clear area about 100 ft. square behind the barn and bounded on three sides by tall black cherry and soft maple but open to the west. On Sunday I noticed a pair of EABL visiting the box with the chickadee nest in it--- and the same thing this morning. So I took the box (w/ image attached) and mounted it about 15ft. away from the other box. This is a simple
matter since I use rebar,EMT,& PVC guards. By noon they had claimed the box and started nest building--- and by 4 pm they were so engrossed in their activity that driving my tractor within 25 ft. of the box did not deter their ernest behavior.

My question is-- does this constitute a bona fide statistical sampling to verify the blue flag theory ?

George NE Ohio


Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 14:53:08 -0400
From: Tina Phillips cbp6"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Blue shirt ,flag,image

Hi George,

Your experiment was very interesting indeed! While it does not provide us with "bona fide" statistical sampling for proving the blue flag theory, it does prove that you are thinking and acting like a scientist!

I think the proposed experiment regarding box occupancy by bluebirds would be very interesting to conduct. It is too late in the season for us to implement it into TBN's data entry forms, but if folks are interested in doing a pilot study "pairing", if you will, two boxes, one with some sort of colorful, (preferably blue) attractant and the other in similar habitat but with no attractant, I will put together a simple form that nest box monitors can request.

The important thing to remember is that the two nest boxes should be as nearly identical as possible (i.e., habitat, orientation, box volume, distance from buildings or woods, etc.), should be similar.

Please e-mail me separately if you'd like a form. It may be a few weeks before I finish it, but that doesn't preclude you from doing the study while nesting is in full swing.

At the end of the nesting season, I will share the results, and if all goes well, they could warrant future study!

Thanks for sharing your observations George, that's what Citizen Science is all about....

Tina Phillips

At 07:29 AM 5/15/01 -0700, judymellin wrote:
George- I had never heard of this until someone posted it to the list this
year. I too felt it was an "urban myth". I have heard other stories about
this, though, so I would think we do need a test to prove it, as we would
any other claims made about behaviors.

Maybe the folks at Cornell would want to use this study to replace the
eggshell segment that was cut out? :) It could be a new challenge!

Judy Mellin
NE IL.


From: "john siroky" injohn"at"crown.net
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 08:32:09 -0500

Hello to everyone,

I am new to this list and new to bluebirds, in general. I have spotted bluebirds in my yard ( I have a very large, open yard and it is very wooded nearby) and I put up a regualation bluebird house on a fence post. Yesterday, the bluebirds were looking in it but they did not go in or appear to be in moving in. In fact the male, chased the female away from it, although he seemed very interested. What can I do to increase the chances of the bluebirds choosing my house? I have no trouble attracting other birds to my yard (orioles, several kinds of finches, indigo buntings, gross beaks, scarlet tanengers, etc). I know this is late in the season. Could they already have established a nest elsewhere in the area? If that is the case, will I eventually get bluebirds? Any information will be helpful. 

Thanks, Michelle


From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 11:46:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: help

Hello Michelle, Yes these visiting BB,s are probably nesting some here else right now, but there is a good chance you can still get them. There are many cause,s for nest failure which will cause them to move to a new location. this can happen at any time. They could also be looking for a place for a second nesting. Mean while you could fix your nest box mounted on a fence post. Change it to a pipe mount any where near where it is now. The fence makes it easy for animals to climb right up to the box so if you want a successful nesting improve the mounting now before nesting starts. You can buy 3/4" conduit cheaply at most department stores or hardware stores. It comes in 10 ft lengths which makes two mounts for boxes. Others will help you out on details. Myself I cement mine in so they were sturdy and left ring at bottom to mow around. I also used pipe flanges to fasten to box. These just threaded onto end of pipe after box was fastened on to flange. If these BB,s haven't already started
building move the box off the fence post now. Joe Huber

...

From: "john siroky" injohn"at"crown.net
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 07:02:20 -0500

Thanks to every one who responded with ideas to help the Blue birds  choose my box. I forgot to mention that I liven in Northwest Indiana.  I am about a mile and a half from the tip of Lake Michigan, on the edge  of the National Lakeshore. I am thinking that perhaps the first thing I  should do is remove my box from the fence and put it on a metal pole.  What about shrubs near the box? Would they help or hinder? --Michelle


From: "john siroky" injohn"at"crown.net
Subject: Found the nest (i think)
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 09:49:58 -0500

Hi everyone,

First of all, thanks for the advice. I am going to relocate my BB box  on a metal pole. I think I have found an appropriate spot in my yard that, hopefully, the BBs will like. It has a tree nearby to offer some shade in the heat of the day and provide a place for the fledgings to  land without obstructng the area or providing cover for predators.

I think I have found the nesting site that the BBs chose over my box on  the fence post box. As I was watching the birds early this morning, I  saw the BBs go in and out of an ornamental bird house that my neighbor  has on her patio right next to her house. I went over and peeked in and  there is a nest in there. It looks new and not "lived in." No sign of  feathers, eggs, etc. I am concerned, however, because this little bird  house sits on a metal plant stand that is about 4 to 4 1/2 feet high.  The stand is not secured to the ground and the bird house is not secured  to the platform of the stand. A strong wind from a summer storm will  probably blow it over. Also, my neighbor has a cat that is a very  efficient hunter. It catches several creatures (including birds) a  day. Is there anyway I can secure this nest without disturbing the BBs  too much? This neighbor happens to be my sister so she will be willing  to work with me on this.

Michelle in Northwest Indiana


From: "Ruter" FourRuters"at"cinci.rr.com
Subject: New to List - have a couple questions about feeders and Ohio birds
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 20:17:33 -0400

Hi!

I'm enjoying reading all the posts and I'm hopeful that I'll get a BB  family soon. I missed the boat putting up my house in early spring as I  was gathering data about which box to get and other information. I put  my house up 1 week ago and so far no birds (not even the sparrows) seem  interested. I did put it out in the open. It's about 15-25 feed from  my split rail fence. I did purchase a BB house at WBU and I mounted it  on a pole with a squirrel baffle. The house is approximately 5 feet up.

Any suggestions on how to attract a BB? I have not seen any. 

Secondly, I have several feeders up around my bay window (pretty far  away for the BB house) - my question is - is it OK to feed the birds  year round? I've attracted Cardinal's, have regular pairs of Blue Jay,  1 pair of Chickadees and lot's American Finches and house Finches, Song  Sparrows, and too many mean sparrows and cowbirds for my taste. Could  this be scaring would be BBs? I do have a dog - she's love the birds  and keeps the squirrels and cats away, in addition I have 2 young girls
- could this scare the BBs? 

Finally - any folks in West Chester Ohio have any luck attracting BBs?  I'd also like to attract Wood Peckers, Tufted Titmice too. Are there  any local trails I could visit?

Thanks for any info you can provide! I'll appreciate it and use it.


From: khussie"at"localnet.com
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 21:39:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: decoys

Has anyone ever tried using decoys to attract bluebirds? I am going to put life-sized painted wooden bluebird decoys on a couple of my boxes this year to see if they attracts bluebirds. Works for ducks, right?
Kieran
Glenside, PA


Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 23:07:05 EDT
From: "Rwatts" rwatts"at"mymailstation.com
To: khussie"at"localnet.com, bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re:decoys

Has anyone ever tried using decoys to attract bluebirds? I am going to put life-sized painted wooden bluebird decoys on a couple of my boxes this year to see if they attracts bluebirds.

Not sure whether it was on this list or in the NABS newsletter, but yes, it has been tried to have a bluebird painted on boxes, or bluebird-blue paint on the boxes.

Rhonda Watts
Wilton, N.H.


Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 22:48:38 -0500
From: Wendell Long mrsimple"at"go-concepts.com
Subject: Re: decoys

Yes...I tried it. Click on link to see photo:
http://www.birdersworld.com/brw/photo/1999/9911photo.html 

Wendell Long
Waynesville, Ohio


From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: decoys
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 22:53:28 -0500

I thought that Bluebirds don't like other Bluebirds in close proximity when they want to nest. Hence I wonder if that would work. I know some people paint false entrance holes (using black marker) on various sides of the nestbox, (including the top) the Bluebirds see this and come to investigate, thus they are led to find the real entrance... may be this will work better than decoys, but I am for experimentation!

Fawzi

Fawzi Emad in Laytonsville, Maryland
femad"at"comcast.net


From: KCBSP"at"aol.com
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 23:07:11 EST
Subject: Re: decoys

Hello

To me personallyas my opinion bluebirds are territorial. I don't feel that this would help to attract bluebirds to your trail. I think it would be more confusing. There are better ways to attract them to your area such as better placement of the boxes, food sources, and just some patience.

That's my 2 cents, but if you prefer to try it let us know how it goes. I have not heard of anything like it before.


Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 23:22:33 -0500
To: bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Decoy

Also worked for Nuthatch: See Link:
http://www2.go-concepts.com/~mrsimple/twohead.htm 

Wendell Long
Waynesville, Ohio


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"tds.net
Subject: Re: decoys
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 07:23:30 -0500

BB-L:

I agree with Kathy Clark. I think that a Bluebird decoy would tend to drive them away rather than attract them. When we use duck or goose decoys, we're attracting them to feeding places rather than nesting places.

Further, I'd wonder, at least, if decoys around their nesting places might not mess up their heads a little. Decoys are inert, silent, motionless, and their eyes don't look right, - all those unnatural things.

But as Kathy says, it's the territoriality factor that would give me the most concern. The live birds could think that the wooden ones had taken over the nest boxes, and go somewhere else.

Bruce Burdett, in SW NH


From: "Keith & Sandy Kridler" kridler"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Re:decoys
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 07:53:10 -0600

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
In bluebird rich areas you don't need a decoy! I placed a new nestbox on a power pole at a work site 27 miles south of my house on Friday at 3PM during a cold rain/thunder storm, I sat down, popped the top on a coke and watched a pair of bluebirds appear out of the cold fog at 3:10 and land on the box, we gave up working at 4:30 in heavy rain and watched two pairs of bluebirds fighting over the box....The strongest pair will hold the box. If you use a wooden decoy the live bird will always win.:-)))

Instead of a wood decoy simply use a 6"8" royal blue plastic marking ribbon tacked to the corner of the nestbox roof, allowing it to "wing wave" in any breeze....Bluebirds are blue for a reason and they "wing wave" to communicate....Every male bluebird thinks he is the biggest, baddest male in the territory but you may notice that often the most vicious fighting between bluebirds will be between the females with two, three or even four male bluebirds calmly watching two females fighting and rolling around on the ground.

If bluebirds can spot a tiny insect at 200 feet away they can see a nestbox outline over a mile away....or a "blue wing wave". Go out and add new boxes to your trail and every cavity nester in the area will see it almost at once....I placed a new 24" tall hollow log box up in a tree outside my shop and had 7 different species inspect it in less than one hour....It is 18" deep inside and has a 2&9/16" entrance hole.....It did not stop the chickadees and white breasted nuthatches from checking it out though! KK


Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 07:25:40 -0800
From: John Schuster wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re: decoys

Dear Friends,

Decoys are not needed where Bluebirds are abundant and because they are territorial a decoy could be more of a hindrance than an asset.

Though decoys may work for other birds, I believe the over riding issue with Bluebirds, is that during the breeding/nesting season, Bluebird are only interested in one thing, finding a suitable cavity nesting site to raise they broods, so decoys are just not needed, but plenty of nesting boxes positioned properly are.

...


From: "Burnham, Barbara" Barbara.Burnham"at"zzz.zzz
Subject: RE: decoys
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 14:36:28 -0500

Kieran,
In my case, I would not dare ... our very territorial bluebird male would go BONKERS trying to chase the decoy away. He has enough to do chasing that one in the window! However, I have heard that recorded bluebird calls can be very successful to bring them closer. They are very curious birds. Careful not to overdo it though, and drive them nuts. Barbara Burnham Ellicott City, Maryland


To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
From: Mary Roen mbroen"at"pressenter.com
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 14:02:26 -0600

Hi!

It is interesting to see the talk of decoys and blue streamers to attract Bluebirds. I went to a National Wildlife Habitat conference in southern Wisconsin last fall, and one speaker said a way to increase the number of Cardinals in your yard is to put out bright red Christmas bows. I tried it out, putting a bow on 5 feeders, and this winter I had 11 Cardinals feeding. This is the most I have ever seen in my back yard. Coincidence?

Mary Roen, River Falls, WI


Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 13:52:16 -0600
Subject: Re: decoys/recorded calls
From: Sharon Kersten sak"at"tlab.net

As a birder, I have used recorded calls to observe birds. At best, this may allow you to view a curious bluebird but I doubt it will encourage nesting. The more I have used these recorded calls; the less I like them. I am not at all convinced these are good for the birds.
Just my opinion.

Sharon Kersten
XE Ranch Nature Preserve
Milam County, Texas


From: khussie"at"localnet.com
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 09:46:59 -0500 (EST)
Subject: suburban blues

Does anyone out there have experience with bringing bluebirds back to suburban/semi-urban areas? How many seasons did it take to finally attract them? What was the strategy? When bluebirds migrate north, do they avoid flying over populated areas? Thanks,

Kieran
Glenside, PA


From: khussie"at"localnet.com
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 15:10:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: suburban blues

First of all, what a cool web site! I checked out my area on it. Thanks. I know what you mean about the habitat loss. The local high school (where my trail is) had a nice stretch of thickets between 2 of the ball fields, and for no apparent reason, last fall they decided to plow it over. It made me sick to my stomach to see it one day. These thickets were dense with berry bushes, and I know for a fact orioles, warblers, bobwhite, kildeer, and other songbirds nested there last spring. It was like they plowed it simply so it would look like every other school grounds in the area. The thing that kills me is that these schools today hypocritically preach about saving the environment (rainforests wetlands, redwoods etc.) and they celebrate earth day, while they allow the natural treasures right on their own school grounds to be destroyed. Maybe people should worry about their "own backyards" first.

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

Here is a terra server map showing an aerial view of my trail.

...


From: jeanettefromks"at"webtv.net (Jeanette Stamm)
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 12:55:37 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: BLUEBIRD-L digest 404

Would someone tell me more about putting blue streamers on a box in order to attract bluebirds? Do you attach it directly to the box or below or above? We have 5 gallon buckets upside dwn to repel predaors (first year we have tried this ). IF the birds come do you take it down then or just leave it up? I'm not sure I undestand the principal here; is the male fighting this blue thing or what? And does it work? We are trying it with a few of our boxes but wonder if anyone hashad much experience wih this. Thanks. The three egs I discovered about two weeks ago are still warm and the pair hasn't abandoned them yet but there is snow on the ground and it is very cold. And I don't have ready access to mealworms but have ordered some.


From: rindfleisch12"at"elknet.net
Date: Wed, 05 Mar 2003 15:50:12 EST
Subject: Blue colors and Bluebirds

I have been giving this some thought as I was a bit creative last year painting my new white houses with red stripes and blue stars. When this inquiry was brought up recently, it has occurred to me that my blues preferred the houses with the blue stars painted on them compared to the 3 other houses I had up - one was already occupied by TRES, one had wren sticks in all the time (no matter how many times I removed the dummy nest), and the other was left alone. 

So this year, I'm placing "plain" white houses to compare housing preferences by the EABL's - house color (with or without blue, design or location - to be determined). The trial hsould be ready and set this weekend.

Will keep the list posted if any pattern or preference is noticed... but vs. placing "streamers" on the house, a dab of paint might do the trick.

Good luck,
Cheryl R.
SE Wisconsin


From: Bass10737"at"aol.com
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003 03:58:38 EST
Subject: Bluebirds attraction

My name is Walter, I've been trying to attract bluebirds to my yard for a couple of years now. In the past I've found eggs that were abadoned, or couples that arrived, but in time a mate, usually the female was gone. I used to feed all birds yearround but found that all the birds were uninviting to the bluebirds. So last year I stopped putting out seed feeders by the end of Feb. or by mid March. Last season I had 3 successful broods, and 5 bluebirds have stayed through this winter. I've been providing them with roasted mealworms to tide them over. I've also stopped puting out bird seed feeders as of 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping for another successful season.


Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 18:00:15 -0500
To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
From: Mark McCullough markm62"at"core.com
Subject: RE:blue bird song

I downloaded that song ( http://www.ontarioeasternbluebirdsociety.org/index.html ) onto my computer. I opened the windows and cranked up the speakers and let the song play over and over on a loop.

Question: anyone actually ever have any luck calling in birds with their own recorded call. I know it works with certain predators(fox, etc)

Just wondering

Mark
N.E. Ohio
no sightings at my place yet :-(


From: "Mark J. Bruder" markbruder"at"suscom.net
Subject: BB picking boxes
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 16:32:59 -0500

I have been trying to get BBs into my 3 acre yard for about 2 years with 3 boxes. Last year, several BB came and took a look, but none made a nest. I have eliminated the sparrow problems. I have provided food and water also. Any suggestions? I am in south central Pennsylvania. Thanks, Mark Bruder


Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 17:58:42 -0500
Subject: Re: BB picking boxes
From: "Haleya Priest" mablue"at"gis.net

Haleya Priest Amherst MA
Hi Mark, If I were you I would move the boxes around to different locations on your property. Even 25' can make the difference - I've seen that happen! Good luck and let us know what happens. :-) H

...

Over our heads will float the Bluebird singing beautiful and impossible things, of things that are lovely and that never happen, of things that are not and should be.
- Oscar Wilde


From: "david calhoun" dlcdmd"at"bellsouth.net
Subject: mark bruder suggestion
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 08:58:47 -0500

I am not an expert ,mark.I wonder if it would help if you could improve the terrain ( I don't know if it needs Improving,of course) by mowing the grass.Mowed grass makes it easier for the birds to see their usual prey.Also, are there enough perches in the form of telephone wires,fences, scattered trees, etc. for them to hunt from? Note to anyone interested-twine doesn't make a good perch-it stretches and sags.David Calhoun,Louisville,Ky.


From: "Jennifer" jelymo.rn"at"verizon.net
Subject: Bluebirds Across the Street!
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 15:03:08 -0400

Hi all!
This is my first year putting up nestboxes on my property in the attempt  to attract bluebirds. Last year a pair nested in an ornamental nestbox  (but functional!) on my front porch in early June....pure luck, and now  I'm hooked!!!!! I live on about 3 acres with woods to the rear of my  property. My front yard is pretty much open with a few large trees and a  pond. I placed 2 boxes just outside the tree line about 20 feet apart.  So far no bluebirds :( 

I thought that maybe it was too early here in southeastern, PA(it's  snowing as I type this!)but I just found out a neighbor has 3 pairs  nesting on their property!!!!!! I'm very jealous! What else can I do to  attract the bluebirds now that I know they are in the area? If I try  mealworms, how will they find them? I believe the family from my front  porch last year hung around in my backyard until early December...I  counted six bluebirds. I thought maybe they would return. That pair  probably got evicted from another box before they found the box on my  porch. Any helpful hints would be much appreciated! Thanks Jenn, Glen Mills, PA (southeastern)


From: khussie"at"localnet.com
Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 13:50:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: birds and blooms suggestion

Does anyone here read "Birds and Blooms" magazine? The recent issue has a write-in from someone who said she never had bluebirds nest in her box until she tried a suggestion from her neigbor (who always had bluebirds). The suggestion was to cut a hole in the top of the box and cover it with a piece of cloth?? She said the bluebirds moved in the next day after she did this. I thought it sounded very weird.
Kieran
NW of Philly


Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 09:17:27 -0500
To: o2beadog"at"hotmail.com, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
From: Kate Arnold bbnestbox"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Re: Attracting bluebirds

After re-reading your post, I realized my previous Message didn't really answer your question.

The best way to attract bluebirds is to provide suitable habitat--open areas for them to hunt, but with trees near for shelter, a source of water, insects to eat (most of us have more than we want!) and a suitable place to nest. If you want to learn more about them, there are many good books available at libraries, or you can buy one--"The Bluebird Monitor's Guide" is one I highly recommend.

There are also many good articles available on "The Best of Bluebird-L" at http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/bestofbbml/bblindx.htm 

or The on-line Bluebird Reference Guide: http://birds.cornell.edu/bluebirds/ 

Kate Arnold, Paris, TX


From: [mailto:plkldf"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Monday, April 19, 2004 11:35 AM
Subject: blue surveyor tape

Paul Kilduff Baltimore MD trail at Oregon Ridge Park, Cockeysville MD I just ordered some blue glo surveyor tape to (I hope) attract bluebirds to our boxes in a way that doesn't involve woven cloth with dangerous thread. I had one roll of surveyor's tape, but it's almost gone and the store where I bought it is no longer there. http://shop.store.yahoo.com/champion-america1/surflagtap.html I found it on the URL above, although the ground shipping, at $9.30, I thought was steep. BTW, I've started making little "birds" out of the tape, by making a loop of the tape, then running tape through the loop -- been using about 18" of tape per box. My idea, which is *all* it is at this point, is to make something a little more likely to make a bluebird come to investigate, by making it more than just a thin strip of waving blue. I'll advise how the tape is when I get it and if the "birds" seem to attract more bluebird attention than the waving strips have in the past. Paul in Baltimore


From: khussie"at"localnet.com
Sent: Monday, April 19, 2004 11:16 PM
Subject: Re: blue surveyor tape

I wonder if decoys really work. Last year I put wooden decoys on a couple of my boxes, and I can't prove it, but my first trail bluebird sighting was last May, right near the box with the decoy. Maybe I'll try the tape- it will certainly cost less time then the painted wooden ones I made. can't hurt Someone should start selling a "bluebird kit" that incldes all you'll need to attract and keep bluebirds around (box, pole, HOSP trap, decoy, and mealies). Kieran Glenside, PA (10 minutes NW of Philly)


From: JoleenDavis [mailto:ds"at"comteck.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 12:36 AM
Re: blue surveyor tape

I started housing Bluebirds in my yard in 2001. At first, I just had a BB box up for some time & no such luck. Then a guy on here mentioned using blue cloth to attract his Bluebirds. So I did that & the very next day I had a male BB in my yard with his mate checking out my box. And I use my blue cloth every year & every year I have housing Bluebirds in my box. So I feel confident that decoys do work esp. here as BB's are scarce. Joleen in Indiana


From: Joe Baker [mailto:rok90"at"adelphia.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 7:58 AM
RE: blue surveyor tape

Joleen and list members, How about painting the nestbox blue? Would appreciate hearing comments about doing this. Joe Baker SW VA.


From: Kate Arnold [mailto:bbnestbox"at"1starnet.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 8:40 AM
Re: Possible SPAM:RE: blue surveyor tape

If the nestbox is in full sun, I don't recommend painting it blue. Dark colors absorb too much heat when the temps get up in the 90s. Kate Arnold Paris, TX


From: Snoopy [mailto:snoopy"at"wmis.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 8:55 AM
Subject: Re: blue surveyor tape

I will tell you in a few weeks.... I tried it!! lol. I just put the box up 2 days ago...so far only HOSP has shown interest...so I have to catch the little bugger first.  ...well mine is light blue.... like a shade darker than the sky... I'll check it when the sun comes out again and see how it feels... I'll even put a thermometer inside!Joy in Michigan 


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 10:01 AM
RE: Possible SPAM:RE: blue surveyor tape

I think light blue would be o.k., just not dark. I have Eastern Bluebirds painted on both sides of nearly all mine. :<)) Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA


From: plkldf"at"comcast.net
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 11:30 AM
Re: blue surveyor tape

Someone pointed out off list (I think) that they had used a realistic decoy and it seemed to disturb the male BL. Had to take it down before he'd calm down. I guess I sort of thought of that. I thought about laminating a photo and putting that on there but I thought it might be too distracting. My idea with the "tape bird" is to get him to do a "double take" when he sees something enough like another male to get his attention, but then to get closer and see that it's no competition. Anecdotally, it seems to me that the ribbon we've used in the past has helped attract bluebirds, but we haven't kept stats. Seems like something that can't do any harm (EXCEPT if you use loosely-woven fabric and a bird gets tangled in the thread, as happened to me with a Tree Swallow) and others have reported that dead boxes get lively when they put blue on them. That's been our experience also but again, no stats, no controls, etc. Paul in Baltimore


From: Jim & Ann Koehler [mailto:jimnann"at"midwestinfo.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 12:09 PM
Subject: blue surveyor tape

I don't have access to blue surveyors tape, but I cut a walmart bag into strips & tied onto my electric fence, mostly to let my horses know that the fence was there & the first EABL I saw this year were in that vicinity. I have quite a few of these bags & am thinking of putting them on my boxes & on more of my fences (with metal posts not to be confused with wooden posts) which is where my houses are. That seems to work fine in calling in the EABL, even though it's a lighter blue than you are talking about.


From: Nature1951"at"aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 12:51 PM
Subject: Surveyor's Tape etc.

I believe in attracting bluebirds the "old fashioned way" I guess. Simply put, placing nest boxes in the right habitat and monitoring regularly. If the habitat is right for foraging, bluebirds will instinctively find their way to enough of my nest boxes naturally, as they have been finding cavities in nature for tens of thousands of years. I try to be mindful, sensitive, and appreciative that bluebirds are wild creatures. As to surveyor's tape, decoys, plastic walmart bags, bluebird photos, and countless other gimmicks to attract bluebirds to nest boxes, well, I respectfully leave those up to the more adventuresome I guess. I prefer keeping things as simple and as natural as possible. John Rogers Brewerton, NY


From: Dorothy Cooney [mailto:psychtrek"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 7:24 PM
Subject: attracting blues

Hi everyone,
I've been a mostly silent member for a while now and still haven't figured out how to get bluebirds into my yard. I've read up on attracting them, but the birds I see don't have a particular place where they sit. I see them now and again on the overhead wires or in my trees. Any thoughts on how to get them to come to my mealworms and hopefully to my nestboxes? I also have 2 mixed seed feeders with all sorts of birds partaking of the feast, a nyjer seed feeder, and hummer feeders. Thanks for any help.
Dorothy Cooney
Friendswood, TX



From: lemerich [mailto:lemerich"at"epix.net]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 7:50 PM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Dorothy, do you have any boxes up for the bluebirds. It may take a while for them to find you. Many are lucky enough to get them the first year and other took several years. What size yard or area do you have.
Don't put the bluebird box to close to the feeders. Usually, when I see the first pair getting serious about nexting, I stop all the seed feeding. This will cut down on some of the pesty birds and give the blues a better chance.

Lynn in Bernville PA



From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 8:30 PM
Subject: RE: attracting blues

Do you have a birdbath nearby too? Also, the birdbath needs to have water no deeper than about two inches (very shallow). Make sure your nestboxes are not too close to a tree or bush. I've had to move a few of mine just a matter of 10 ft. away from trees or bushes and then they came.

Evelyn Cooper
Delhi, LA


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Dorothy, When you figure out how to attract Bluebirds without fail, let us know :-)

You are seeing Bluebirds on the overhead wires & in trees? And are you in the warmer part of TX? If so, the Blues may be already looking for nesting sites. If you have tree snags (old trees with broken limbs or natural cavities) or neighbors with nestboxes, the Bluebirds will have lots of places to choose from. Therefore, your nestboxes will have to just be more attractive to them. Well built nestboxes, with baffles for predator protection, in the right location will probably draw at least 1 of those bluebirds.

See Bet's site for nestbox designs:
www.sialis.org

Ron Kingston has a great baffle set-up:
http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/nabs/rk1.htm

Hmmm, the right location can be a bit more tricky. Sometimes the Bluebirds forget to read the books about where they like to nest. As a general rule, they like open areas with fairly short grass. A few scattered trees or shrubs are okay.

I have a nestbox in such a perfect area. However, it's usually the last nestbox to be used. Still haven't figured that one out.

Last summer, I was flooded with HOSP and put up an old, falling-apart nestbox where our driveway meets the road. The entrance hole faced due west (least preferred direction). Our mailbox, utility poles, large shrubs, etc are nearby. This nestbox was supposed to just trap sparrows. However, a pair of Bluebirds claimed this area as their own. In my opinion, an awful place for Bluebirds. But I was happy to see 6 babies fledge.

9 times out of 10, a nestbox in a very sheltered area of my yard has the first nest of the season. Now, that's something that I can understand :-)

Evelyn mentioned a bird bath, which helps to attract bluebirds to the area. And when birds are present, lawn pesticides of any type should be avoided. Don't be too disappointed if you don't have a nesting pair right away. They may decide to use your nestboxes for their 2nd or 3rd nestings.

If nothing happens this year, you might try moving some of the nestboxes. Sometimes just 5 or 10 ft makes a difference.

Oh, my, I'm not sure what's wrong with me - I forget to ask if you have House Sparrows? Some Bluebirds will not nest around huge flocks of house sparrows. What to do about that is another whole post.

If you like books, "The Bluebird Monitor's Guide to Bluebirds and Other Small Cavity Nesters by Jack Griggs & Cynthia Berger is great.

Good luck!

Dottie Roseboom
Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Cher [mailto:BluebirdNut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 6:51 AM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Has anyone actually tried using the "fake hole" or "blue ribbon" tricks to attract Bluebirds? I've heard about these methods for several years, but never tried it myself. In my case the Blues came first, my desire to house them came later. It never occurred to me to try and attract Bluebirds to my yard until I saw some on my heated birdbath one winter. And the rest is history .....

Cher



From: JOHN & BARBARA SIBIO [mailto:jsibio"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

I saw my first-ever bluebird at my birdbath. They seem to love to bathe, even in the winter, and have always brought the fledglings back to our garden to bathe. Also, I always had a lot of insects in my garden because I don't use pesticides, and I plant flowers and herbs to attract bees and butterflies. There's always been a lot for the blues to eat, naturally.
Good luck!

Barbara in Cloverdale, CA


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 11:14 AM
Subject: RE: attracting blues

I put some bottom line advice for new bluebirders at http://www.sialis.org/new.htm

I did not get bluebirds nest in my boxes until I offered mealworms (http://www.sialis.org/feeder.htm)

Last year I put some black duct tape in the shape of an oval hole on the roofs and sides of my nestboxes. It might have helped attract birds to them (recognizing in flight that it was a nesting site). I'm going to stencil the hole shapes on this year.

I haven't tried blue flagging (which is supposed to simulate wing waving.) I thought I read that someone saw a bird get tangled up in some disintegrating blue cloth.

Bet from CT


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 11:50 AM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Dear Cher and friends,

To date, we haven''t used fake holes to attract Bluebird to a nest box, but we have used them on cavity nesting boxes traps, and the fake holes do lurer in Starlings and House Sparrows.

This year we plan to use fakes holes for attracting Bluebird to nest boxes in vineyards where we see and hear the Bluebird flying over head, passing on the nest boxes below them as they fly to open fields beyond.

Will keep you posted.



From: Chris&Crystal Hill [mailto:crystaljhill"at"msn.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 12:02 PM
Subject: RE: attracting blues

We had a pair of birds nest in a decorative bird house on the front deck intended for decoration not even thinking about possible birds that might see this as a nesting site. You live and learn............

We did some research and they were Eastern Bluebirds.

We had not observed them previously in our yard. (perhaps build it they will come.........)

We started learning all we could, and since put up proper boxes on poles with baffles. All our boxes are cedar wood without stain, just natural coloring.

They have returned every year for the past two years to nest in spring/summer.

They do not hang around our yard during fall/winter.

We do offer mealworms year round.

Crystal Hill
Social Circle, Georgia



From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 10:55 AM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Cher, I've experimented with blue ribbons, plastic blue butterflies, ceramic bluebirds, and even a blue nestbox.

I could NOT tell any difference in attracting or keeping Bluebirds. I think that your experience with a bird bath may tell you that water is an attractant. Water, especially in winter, is a must for all animals.

Good quality nestboxes might be an attractant, especially if there are no available tree snags.

Dottie Roseboom
Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 12:23 PM
Subject: Fw: attracting blues

Barbara, good point about the natural foods! I think that planting for wildlife (flowers for caterpillars) and berry-producing plants for winter foraging is more helpful for bluebirds than putting out blue ribbons.

We've had many great posts listing all the plant possibilities.

Dottie Roseboom
Peoria IL (central - zone 5)



From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 12:31 PM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Hi Bet, Thanks for the updates for the new bluebirders.

Interesting that it took mealworms to draw in your Bluebirds. Because I garden extensively for wildlife, and we live in a rural area, I've never had to use mealworms to attract Bluebirds. In fact, sometimes, they take their sweet time about consuming the mealies that I put out.

Perhaps this will be a good tip for people living in newer suburbs that may have fewer "bugs".

Dottie Roseboom
Peoria IL (central - zone 5)



From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 3:20 PM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

Dorothy,

I can tell you how I courted mine. Sounds like you already have your nestboxes so this could easily attract them. Regarding the mealworms, when I saw my EABL in a tree or checking out a nestbox, I would bring a shallow dish of mealworms (just a few) out and set it on the ground near where they are. Develop a little "call" for them when you come out. I imitate their whistle as best I can and that is my "call". Go back in the house and watch. They start eating them out of the dish on the ground and then you can eventually "call" and let them watch as you put them in a mealworm feeder if you want to.

Also, you don't want your nestboxes too close to a feeding station that attracts a wide variety of birds during the nesting season. If the feeders are close, you might want to stop the mixed seed nesting season starts.
That's my 2 cents.

Paula Z
Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Chris&Crystal Hill [mailto:crystaljhill"at"msn.com]
Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 11:41 AM
Subject: Bluebird Habitat

I just don't get it..........

My husband has been telling me of all the bluebirds he sees at work. They have a small grass area and it is just filled with Eastern Bluebirds male and female. He sees them daily........
He says the land on the equipment around and on the fence at the open grass area and feed on the bugs....

We don't have them in our yard like that.............Guess I am just jealous.......

He got permission for me to put up a nesting box.

Would this be a good idea? to help them........

Considering this is an work site? They load chemicals on transfer trucks, so it is fairly quiet........And the grass area is near the office building instead of the shop area.............

Crystal Hill
Social Circle, Georgia



From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 01, 2005 12:22 AM
Subject: RE: Bluebird Habitat

Crystal,

It sounds like a great idea to me except I would put up two boxes. I'd place one near the office building to intercept HOSP that may be attracted to the building area and I'd set up the other in open grass habitat for your EABL.

Paula



From: PTom [mailto:ptom"at"austin.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 2:00 AM
Subject: Re: attracting blues

I've tried the "fake hole", "blue ribbon" and the "play recording" tricks.

Where I live, I found a few "old-timers" who heard bluebirds in Mountain City "about 15 years ago". In the mid-1990's, I put up a single bluebird nestbox (only one because I thought that more than one would be detrimental to attracting bluebirds ... because I'd seen the "100-yards apart rule").
It remained empty, but the hope of bluebirds remained in my heart and I often said aloud, "If only I could start out from here and bring them in."

When a friend saw the article about the TransContinental Bluebird Trail in "Parade" magazine in May 1999, he brought it to me showing me that it was a way to bring the bluebirds in. He offered to build nestboxes if I would contact landowners asking permission to install "Transcontinental Bluebird Trail" nestboxes on their property.

March 2nd (yesterday) marked a Blue Letter Day. It was on that date five years ago that I drove into the Church of Christ parking lot less than two miles from my house and my eyes beheld a male bluebird sitting atop one of the nestboxes Ron, our friend & I installed the previous summer in hopes of
eventually attracting a bluebird pair. And, there, already the dream was
coming true. A bluebird conservation story was unfolding, and we were part of it.

Soon thereafter, blue eggs appeared in a soft nest of woven fine grasses. By Easter that year, the nestbox was empty. Hope broke through anew! We had hope of the resurgence of the Eastern Bluebird population in our area!

Two years ago, on January 1st at noon, a bluebird pair (Keith & Hope) landed on the nestbox in my front yard ... mine was the first yard in Mountain City where bluebirds nested when they "came back"!

Beforehand, I tried every trick in the book ... fake holes, blue ribbon, blue items in my garden window, and a tape recording of bluebird songs (played during the winter, not during nesting season when it might interfere
with the establishment of territories.) Did one of the tricks work? Who
knows. It certainly didn't hurt.

Pauline Tom
Mountain City (no mountains) TX



From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 8:00 AM
Subject: RE: attracting blues

I think the most important thing that is needed is PATIENCE. You can see how it paid off in Pauline's situation.

When I put my nestbox in my front yard, I had seen a pair of Bluebirds on the outskirts of my yard for many years. Even through the years from the 50's on when devastating cold reduced their numbers dramatically, I still saw them.

My nestbox stood in my front yard for two years and not a sign of a straw or pine needle in it or a Bluebird on it.

One January morning in 1998, I looked out my window and there was 12 Bluebirds on this nestbox acting like they were competing for it! I cannot express the feeling I had. Many wonderful things have happened in my 8 years of bluebirding, but that sight still is more vivid in my mind than any! Of course, we got busy and added boxes and the rest is history. Bluebirds are all over the Cooper Farm and before that you only got a glimpse of a pair.
:<)

Patience!

Evelyn Cooper
Delhi, LA
Louisiana Bayou Bluebird Society


From: Schneid, Kurt J LRB [mailto:KURT.J.SCHNEID "at"lrb01.usace.army.mil]
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 6:33 AM
Subject: First BB sighting of the year

I finally saw my first Eastern Bluebird of the year, while on a bike ride yesterday about 4 miles from my house on Back Creek Road (North Boston, New York). A male and female were sitting on a power/phone line. We were traveling at about 20mph, I called for my riding partner Mike to stop and turn around. When he got back to me I said “look there are the first bluebirds I’ve seen this year”, his response “this is like riding with my wife”….J

Question:

After moving to Western New York and living in the ‘country’ I became interested in birding. For a couple years I back yard birded, and never saw a bluebird. I asked some neighbors if they had ever seen any around, and none of them had. I built and placed bluebird houses in my yard about 5 years ago. Chickadees lived in them the first two years. The bluebirds had visited my yard the second year, just never decide to nest there.. I built more boxes, not just bluebird many different sizes and put them on the farm below me the following year. I also built many more bluebird boxes and asked neighbors if they would like to monitor them, 4 accepted. All 4 neighbors have had blue birds the past three years, however my boxes always have chickadees or nuthatches. I do have two young children, and wonder if their activity may prevent bluebirds from nesting in my yard?

All yards are about the same size, all houses equally appealing. The neighbors who have birds are older and do not have small children playing in their yard….just wondering if anyone else believes this to be the cause.

I also had built a pileated woodpecker home, starlings moved in. They meet with my 12 guage, in case anyone is wondering a good way to get rid of starlings. The pileated woodpeckers have not nested in the box, and have not been seen in my yard for at least 2.5 years.

Kurt Schneid



From: jamie-kunz "at"stny.rr.com [mailto:jamie-kunz "at"stny.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 8:42 AM
Subject: Re: First BB sighting of the year

Hi Kurt,

In my experience, human (or little human) activity will not necessarily deter bluebirds it the box site is to their liking. There are all kinds of suggestions on where to place the box, how to orientate it, how high it should be, what kind of wood, what the dimensions should be .. yada yada yada ...

Then you read about a bluebird nesting in a mailbox. ;-)

All the general placement suggestions are based on years of monitoring experience, but the bluebirds don't read them.

I would suggest maybe moving your boxes to a place a little farther from the house or away from the kid's activity (if that is possible).

In general its also suggested to anyone who has boxes that blubeirds don't use to try re-placing them, as some subtle difference you cannot appreciate may make all the difference to the bluebird.

I hope you at least take some pride in the fact you helped get your neighbors on board and with successful Nestings ...

Jamie Kunz
Maine, NY



From: Schneid, Kurt J LRB [mailto:KURT.J.SCHNEID "at"lrb01.usace.army.mil]
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 9:00 AM
Subject: RE: First BB sighting of the year

Thanks Jamie,
Did not think to give specifics on house placement. Two of the neighbors have their boxes very close to their houses in comparison to mine. Three of them only have 1 BB Box, one has 2 BB boxes versus my 5 boxes. All but one of the bluebird houses I had put up faced east (the one single house a neighbor actually put up and it faced his house {hole facing south} only 12 feet away from his house and in between two large spruce trees). My yard is a little over an acre in size, however all my neighbors have at least two acres. There are no fences, so the area involved with the boxes would actually be over an acre per box (except the two in the garden).
My houses are
1. Front yard in small garden placed around fire hydrant. This one is close to the road, I really did not think it would attract bluebirds however there is over an acre of open land for hunting.
2. Two houses 20 feet apart on the outer edges of my vegetable garden. This places the houses 45 feet or so from my house, and out of view due to a blue spruce between the garden and my house.
3. Just moved one this year, it used to be on a tree line facing the 40acre farm behind my house. I have moved it to a tree in the corner of the yard and faced it west. The only reason for the placement is good viewing from the family room no matter what cavity dweller decided to reside in it.
4. Single box mounted 20 feet or so from anything out into the farm field (the outer edge of my property line) facing the fields property line to the east.

Kurt J. Schneid



From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper "at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 9:21 AM
Subject: RE: First BB sighting of the year

The birds don't know the perils, we do. If we offer them better places, it is our hope they will use them. I have an open pipe on which my mailbox sits on and none has ever attempted to nest there. I have plenty nestboxes for them to use. This does now mean they do not know any better on what is right for them to use. We just have to offer them the best we can.

Evelyn



From: Jamie Kunz [mailto:jamie-kunz "at"stny.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 7:19 PM
Subject: Re: First BB sighting of the year

"The birds don't know the peril, we do " .... lets see bluebirds have been evolving for hundreds, thousands of years, humans have been observing them and putting up nestboxes for .. decades ..? Dumb birds.

Yes, when faced with no other choice, bluebirds may nest in a risky place, better than not nesting at all.

The POINT was even if you place the boxes exactly as recommended, it doesn't mean they'll nest there.

FROM: Judy
Date: May 13, 2005
RE: Attracting bluebirds

Denise:

I had a bluebird house in the yard for 3 or 4 years before I finally got a pair. I was every bit as excited as you are, and I still get excited every year when they come back. This year I thought I wouldn't have any bluebirds, because they returned later than they ever have.

Although I thought it was too late to attract any bbs, I decided one Saturday to put up my mealworm feeder...I already had some worms on hand, just in case. I put up the feeder, and didn't even make it back to the house to get the worms before the bluebirds came! This pair obviously recognised the feeder from last year. Within minutes, they were checking out the nestbox.

My birds would not even look at my feeder the first time I put it up. I finally had to find their most frequent perch...in this case, a tree branch near their house. I put the feeder right under the branch, and put some mealworms on the roof. They caught on very quickly after I did this. It took them a little while to figure out how to get inside.

It would be a good idea not to leave the feeder too close to their nestbox, since it will attract other birds, too. You can always move it farther away after they have learned how to use it.

Good luck, and enjoy your bluebirds!

Judy
Southern Illinois

From: Nancy Hanna [mailto:nancy.hanna2"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 1:41 PM
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Attract BB's to garden?

Hello All:

Any Ideas to attract them?

This was to be the year. I have had Western Bluebirds look at the boxes in my garden for 4 years in a row now! One year there were 6 birds looking at one box, then another on the other side of the garden! I even put out meal worms for them
They looked again this last month. A house two doors down sold and the nesbox left with the old owner. Sadly, they are developing the land with a large MC Mansion. So this pair lost their housing and hunting territory. I was sure this would bring them to my garden! But it is not look good for this year.

I have a trial I monitor 10 minutes away in the open space near my house of 45 busy boxes.

Why do they look each year and leave? I mow my orchard. I have 1 acre with native oaks and open land with a cr! eek below. The BBs are in the over pruned condo development across from my home! They seem to like it near the barn for this development. They are all around me BUT never nest in the boxes I have for them in my garden.

Any ideas? I have thought about bringing in horse manure to the orchard. I have planted natives and berries. Why do they look each year and leave?? Whine!!!! I hear them calling them flying over often. In fact I hear them now! I think they are trying to drive me mad! ;)

Thanks!

Nancy
Walnut Creek Ca Northern
California Bluebird Recovery Program


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 3:47 PM
Subject: Re: Open country

Nancy,
I don't know anything about your California locale, or about your Western Bluebirds, but around here our Easterns often won't nest in yards because the yards are too 'grown up.' They're likely to have too many trees, shrubs, bushes, plantings, etc., and not enough open area. Our Eastern Bluebirds seem to prefer to nest well out in the open, in cleared land, like big lawns, fields, meadows, cemeteries, golf courses, sod farms, - that kind of thing.
We have *never* had Bluebirds nest in our yard because we live in a largely wooded area. But my 72 houses around town are all located in open space of some sort, and most of them do well.

Bruce Burdett, New Hampshire Bluebird Conspiracy,
Sunapee NH



From: Bet Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 11:53 AM
Subject: RE: Attract BB's to garden?

Nancy, sounds like you are doing a lot of things right!!!

I’m trying to compile a list of top tips to attract bluebirds to a particular area – see
http://www.sialis.org/attracting.htm for maybe a few more ideas?

Just saw a post on another forum from someone who was trying for six years to get bluebirds in her
yard and this year it happened. I heard of another person who waited 13 years to get ANY bluebirds
to nest on their trail.

Bet from CT



From: mrtony8 [mailto:philip.berry"at"mchsi.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 5:46 PM
Subject: Re: Attract BB's to garden?

Does the magazine Birds and Blooms ring a bell?
Phil Berry



From: Bet Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:29 PM
Subject: RE: Attract BB's to garden?

Hiya Phil - are you talking about the blue flag concept? In the archives, there were at least three
people that said it worked for them.... See http://www.bestofbbml.audubon-omaha.org/attract.htm .
It would be nice to test it scientifically.....

I am NOT a Birds & Blooms fan - nice pictures, bad ideas, death trap decorative box promotion.

Bet


From: Nancy Hanna [mailto:nancy.hanna2"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 1:10 PM
Subject: Thanks for Attract/ Ca Natives for Western BB's

Hi All and Bet!

I have all sorts of things to draw them to my garden. Holes painted on the sides, blue tops, ....you name it. They come to my garden and eat the Blue-Elderberry, look in the boxes, and fly over chirping often but have not nested yet. Don Yoder was over Sat picking up wood for boxes ( the Director of the California Bluebird recovery program) and he could figure out why they don't stay? We settled on adding a 3 rd bird bath with moving water to the orchard area and mowing the orchard when it stops raining. I have a lot of native plants, the correct boxes (Don and I make them together). I live in a Native oak woodland near open-space (BB habitat in Ca) with 3 wonderful old oak trees on my property.They are all around me even nesting in boxes down the street from my house! So they are here, just not nesting in MY garden. I may try putting out meal worms to get them to stick around. I do get some more plants yesterday! . If not this year, the next!
Some good plants for Western Bluebirds: Toyon, Mahonia Nevinii, and Blue Elderberry.

Thanks again!


From: plkldf"at"comcast.net [mailto:plkldf"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 10:27 PM
Subject: Using a blue flag to attracct bluebirds

Paul Kilduff
trail at Oregon Ridge Park, Cockeysville, Baltimore County, MD

Just a warning: if you do use blue to attract bluebirds, best make sure it is not made of fabric, such as ribbon -- I once found a TRES all tangled up in something -- it was quite a story, a wonderful rehabber got it untangled - but it was apparently tangled in thread from a piece of blue ribbon I had put on the box

Now I use bright blue surveyor's tape, which is not fabric. I know others use blue paint.

Just beware of ribbon or other fabric....

Paul in Baltimore


From: mrtony8 [mailto:philip.berry"a"mchsi.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 9:18 AM
Subject: Re: Using a blue flag to attracct bluebirds

We gave a talk to an Audubon group a few years ago, and a gentleman came up and talked to us after the talk. He had tried his luck on a trail some years back and had no luck (wrong habitat). He had made some decoys, looking very much like a male bb. He asked if I wanted them. I graciously took them, about a dozen, made of wood, and a good job it was. I was starting a new trail away from my golf course trail, and put one on top of a box. Within five minutes a male appeared, had a hissy fit with the decoy, and demanded I take it down. Once I did, he settled down and watched. He never did take the box, though.
Phil Berry



From: Torrey [mailto:torrey_canyon"a"yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 1:02 PM
Subject: Re: Attract BB's to garden?

Hi Nancy,

I run a 115-box trail in southwest Michigan, so i've got Eastern Bluebirds. My best EABL area is in a large mowed field with very few trees. The boxes are set up at the base of guys lines supporting large communications antennae, & the birds often sit on the guy lines. The area gets mowed once a year in September.

In areas with more trees scattered about, or in smaller clearings with woods on the edges, Tree Swallows are more numerous.

Look at your habitat. Count how many trees you have & how close they are together. Maybe Western Bluebirds are pickier than EABL.

Torrey Wenger, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo , MI



From: melissa fox [mailto:meberle2"a"hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 9:58 PM
Subject: Slightly Disappointed

I was at the nature center today, talking to the volunteer there who sparked my interest in putting up BB houses last year. He said I've pretty much missed my chance of getting BBs this year since it's so late. Add to the fact that I'm not even sure if there are any BBs in the area I plan on putting up the houses and don't know how long it will take for them to find it......if they even come my way :( So, I'm a little sad now......but I still plan on getting started making them this weekend and putting them up anyway. If nothing else I can practice kicking out House Sparrows.....lol On the other hand, I'm still within the deadline for the bat house......so there's some hope there. I'm going to be like a little kid checking them every chance I get wondering if anything's in there yet.....lol

Thanks to everyone who sent me info all about houses, locations, and other info. The hard part now is decifering what styles I want to go by and how I want to modify them. Thankfully most of you sent info on that too so it's a matter of just picking what I want to do.

Another indirect effort I've made to help attract them is getting started on my flower bed to attract all the insects that the BBs and Hummers love to eat. I hope my flowerbed turns out how I'm picturing it in my mind.

-Melissa from Columbus



From: Pamela Ford [mailto:jpford"a"comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:16 PM
Subject: RE: Slightly Disappointed

Melissa, don't be disappointed! It's not too late. While it is true that bluebirds that over-winter also check out nestboxes early, the nesting season has not even started yet here in Maryland. My over-wintering backyard pair has not made up their mind yet. While they have taken the first step and chased the winter flock out of their territory, they "claim"
a different box each day, and no nest building has begun. Plus, bluebirds here complete at least 2 full nesting cycles and often, 3. Bluebirds will many times look for different site if the first nesting has been unsuccessful, or if it is not cleaned out quickly enough. And, there are always those males who may not be able to attract a mate until later in the season. These remain single until they can convince a mate to choose them.

Finally, don't forget the Tree Swallows. If you are lucky enough to have them in your area (here there are much rarer than bluebirds) they make wonderful house guests for your boxes.

So, don't give up. It sounds as though you have a great plan and the enthusiasm to carry through. The bluebirds need you!

Pam in Harford County, Maryland



From: rob barron [mailto:rebel1956"a"comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:25 PM
Subject: RE: Slightly Disappointed

Melissa,
I'm sure your nature center volunteer is knowledgeable and well intentioned, but I wouldn't be disappointed. You still have PLENTY of time in Columbus.
My Atlanta Bluebirds are still trying to choose which of my 5 different designs they want and are trying to defend them all but haven't started building yet. When I lived in the northeast, a lot of the inexperienced Bluebirds started too early and lost everything to hypothermia and often chose a different nest box to re-nest in. I've read many times and many places that "The best time to put up a nest box is today." I have some extra boxes I can send you if you want to get a head start.
Rob Barron


From: Brucemac1"a"aol.com [mailto:Brucemac1"a"aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:29 PMu
Subject: Re: Slightly Disappointed

Hello Melissa......

Please don't be disappointed. Don't be discouraged. Keep trying, monitoring. Bluebirds can raise as many as four broods per season. Three is closer to average.

Late last June, I set up one of my own design nestboxes in a friend's small back yard in Chelsea, Mich. (175 miles from you..??) The very next morning, a pair of Bluebirds began exploring the box. Despite the fact that there was a new home under construction, not 35 feet away from the box, the BB's commenced to raise and fledge four chicks.

My friend mowed his lawn, set mealworm dishes on the freshly mowed lawn immediately under the box, we checked the box frequently, None of this activity seemed to affect the BB's. They loved the mealworms...!!

Subsequently, my buddy's wife brought home a cheap, thin-walled box she bought at Home Depot in Ann Arbor. She and her hubby proceeded to install it across the lawn from the 1st BB box. Tree Swallows immediately took the box and raised their brood.

In mid-August, the BB's built another nest in the Home Depot Special. They produced three eggs. Shortly afterward, we suffered a 'Heat Wave'. The interior of the cheap box overheated, the eggs were lost, ...cooked.

This Spring, the BB's are right back at it...!! They'll finish their nest-building at the end of this month. 1st eggs will appear very early in April. We eliminated the cheap box, replaced it with one of mine. So, you see, it is not too late at all....!! Hang in there.

Bruce Macdonald, SW Ontario, south of Detroit



From: Jimmy Dodson [mailto:rocks_and_flies"a"hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:30 PM
Subject: RE: Slightly Disappointed

You're not too late, so don't be disappointed yet. No, it's not "the best timing", but you've still got a chance -- especially with your habitat work.
You may miss the first brood, but you still may get the second (and/or third if you all get 3 in Columbus). If you don't get any BB's, you still may get wrens of chickadees... you never know until you put the boxes up.
Last year I put up a new "wren" house the 4th week of March b/c the previous got destroyed by a storm during the second week... within a day there were chickadees building a nest in it which led to 5 fledglings. A lot of it depends on the amount, type, and quality of the habitat in your area, combined with how many birds there actually are. We've got a lot of habitat, but we've also got a lot of birds of many cavity-nesting species all competing for the same locations.

The BB's have been in flocks all winter. They've really just started to break out into pairs in the last few weeks or so, and inevitably that means there are going to be wanderers. If you get the boxes up soon, you may invite a passerby to hangout until another attractive wanderer happens by, and who knows.

I'll say it again, it's nature, there are few hard-fast rules except alive or dead. Keep your chin up, just get the boxes up ASAP and keep your eyes open. Be patient, it'll pay off! --J

Jimmy Dodson
Asst Forest Manager -- NCSU Dept of Forestry & Environmental Resources NCSU Hill Forest P.O. Box 71 Rougemont, NC


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: Attract BB's to garden?

Dear Nancy and friends,

"Maybe Western Bluebirds are pickier than EABL"

No Western Bluebirds take to nest boxes just as readily as other Bluebird species, maybe even faster.

I have at pair of nest boxes behind my wood shop, and they are only 25 feet away. The Bluebirds that nest there like to fly up to our TV antenna on the roof of our home to over look their nest site. Though I love to watch them flying around my wood shop, our guests and I are getting tired of cleaning off the rear view mirrors on our vehicles of feces that the male leaves behind from fighting it's own image. Plenty of room around our farm to relocate nest boxes, but something to consider for those of you with less acreage.

We have nest boxes in open areas (i.e. vineyards) too, but I also mounted a nest box where I can watch the Bluebird nesting there through our French doors from our bedroom. This nest box is only 35 feet away from the our home and on either side of the nest box are a couple of semi-dwarf apple trees (i.e. Golden Delicious and the other is a Winesap, which is one of the best apples for baking apple pie) for them to land on. Bluebirds and apple trees are like peas and carrots, a winning combination as the 2 have been connected with one another since colonial America.

This location is where I've always wanted to install a vegetable garden. I already have the Western Bluebirds imprinted to the location, now all I need to do is find the time to install the vegetable garden. FYI: regardless of our Barn Owls killing off Pocket Gophers in our vineyard, you still have to have vegetable gardens in raised beds to keep the Pocket Gophers out or they will wipe you out, so there is more here than just planting the vegetables.

...John Schuster, Cotati, CA



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 2:16 AM
Subject: Re: Not too late

Melissa,
If you're in Columbus OH, I doubt very much that you're
too late for '06.
Here in SW NH, some Bluebirds don't start nesting until as late as early
June, and second nestings can be in July.

Bruce Burdett



From: Bernie Daniel [mailto:bdaniel"at"cinci.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 5:48 AM
Subject: Re: Slightly Disappointed

Melissa,

I assume you live in Columbus, "round on both ends and hi in the middle" aka
Ohio.

If so please call the Ohio Bluebird Society at 513-706-3789 and we will get
you into contact with a seasoned Bluebirder in your area -- there are plenty
of them and it is ertainly not at all too late.

The mean start time for a first brood is the middle of March in your part of
Ohio. You could get lucky -- if you are in good habitat -- put of a box
this morning and have nest building start on Saturday. If had a male
checking out a box 20 minutes after I put it up.

Bernie Daniel
Ohio Bluebird Society
ohiobluebird"at"acninc.net


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 6:03 AM
Subject: Re: Slightly Disappointed

We've got babies in South LA since a few days ago.

The last two years, I've had more nesters on the second season than the first.

When I put my first box up, it was two years before I had takers and I could see them in the wooded area right outside my yard. I think they loved their natural cavities too which I've got a lot of.

Put the box up fast.

Evelyn, Dehli LA



From: Bill Stump [mailto:bstump"at"bright.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 7:43 AM
Subject: Re: Slightly Disappointed

Hi Melissa,

I'm from southwest Ohio and have monitored my bluebird houses for several years and believe me, you're not too late. My over wintering BB have claimed one house at work and I also have a male checking out a house at home but no nests yet. In fact, the earliest nest I have had in the last several years was the last week of March, a couple years ago when we had a really warm spring. Usually I don't see nests until early April. You have time if you do it now!

Bill



From: Kathleen Arnold [mailto:koscharn"at"cox.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 1:12 PM
Subject: RE: Slightly Disappointed

Don't worry about it being too late! Unless there is a real surplus of housing, you can get bluebirds well into the season. Either some are waiting for a nestbox, or sometimes a pair likes to change location for a second nesting. Even down here in the South my bluebirds are just getting started. I have one pair that always changes nestboxes after their first clutch fledges, and I have lots of extra nestboxes up so the birds have a choice.

Kate Arnold
Paris, TX


From: bridget mcgann [mailto:lilbmcg"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 5:54 PM
Subject: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

Has anyone had any succeess in attracting bluebirds with playing a bluebird on a stereo in your backyard? Thoughts?

Merci,

Bridget McGann
Granger, IN



From: Robert Barron [mailto:rebarron"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

Hi Bridget,
I've always had Bluebirds find a new nest box in literally less than an hour from being put up, even in places where I hadn't seen Bluebirds before. They must be watching us more than we realize or they are really desperate for a cavity to nest in.

I have had almost instant success trapping House Sparrows and Brown-headed Cowbirds using a hidden boom box and playing their calls, so it might work for Bluebirds.

I can get Virginia and Sora Rails to leave the tall cattails and bullrush in seconds to investigate their calls coming from a recording. Most ornithologists try to keep this technique a secret for fear that someone will use it for evil purposes. It only works during the nesting season and usually attracts males.

De rien,
Rob Barron



From: Steve and Cindy Groene [mailto:hausgroene"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 7:10 PM
Subject: RE: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

I have had success calling in birds using sort of a kissing sound against either the back of my hand or on my two fingers. Birds come to see what the
racket is. It may sound like a distress call because it certainly calls
them in. I have not tried this w/ my bluebirds. I learned this technique when I took a field ornithology course one summer.

Cindy Groene
South Lyon, MI


From: Donna [mailto:spraydm"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 7:45 PM
Subject: Re: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

One day I was sitting on my deck with my laptop, looking up bird calls/songs on the internet. I found the one for EABL, and played it several times because I thought it was the prettiest bird song I'd ever heard. It wasn't overly loud, either (so I don't think it would require much volume). The bluebird pair here had already started working on their nest, coming and going with nesting material. When he heard the call on my laptop, the male flew in pretty close to have a look. I suppose he thought it was a competitor.

Donna


From: Lynn Emerich [mailto:lemerich"at"epix.net]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 8:03 PM
Subject: Re: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

You can buy a commercially produced tape of the purple martin song. They claim to have success with it by playing it early in the morning hours. Or at least they did years ago when I was trying to attract them.

Lynn near Bernville, PA



From: Robert Barron [mailto:rebarron"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 8:41 PM
Subject: Re: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

Cindy, did they call that "phishing" when you took your course? I
heard that long before there was a rock band named Phish.
Rob Barron
Warrenton, Virginia


From: David Gwin [mailto:David.Gwin"at"cityofcarrollton.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2006 10:19 PM
Subject: Re: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

Howdy, Bridget:

I definitely empathize with your desire to attract bluebirds to your nestboxes. However, the use of song recordings for the vast majority of birds should ONLY be used when conducting very specific avian research .... and then, only sparingly. I say this because the use of song recordings introduces a lot of unneccessary stress into the lives of breeding birds. This ... because the vast majority of our song birds (i.e. those that would be most impacted) are highly territorial against their own species and some even defend against competing species. As such, the use of any song recordings could easily take breeding birds away from their nest and rearing responsibilities. I think you will probably agree that the introduction of ANY additional stress during the breeding season is something we all regularly seek to avoid.

I hope this helps.

Take care,
David
North Central Texas

P.S. - If I was in your situation ... I think I would re-evaluate the current location of my boxes or even consider the addition of a couple more boxes in very strategic spots. If I can help you with this review, please just let me know. Enjoy!


ubject: :o( re: Subject: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 10:15:32 +0000
From: plkldf"at"comcast.net

Paul Kilduff,
trail at Oregon Ridge Park, Cockeysville (Baltimore County) MD

I have used an EABL recording to help trap male HOSP, and believe it helped. I trap HOSP by catching the hen in the box before dawn, then setting a Gilbertson trap for the male, who will return and go into the box eventually.

This has always been a very time-consuming and nerve-wracking affair, waiting for the male to go in. I have tried using the recording only twice, but both times it seemed he went in right away. A short time after setting the trap and going away, when I came back the trap was sprung.

What I did was google bluebird song and record a wav file on a pocket-sized audio cassette recorder/player, simply by using a male-male wire from the computer's speaker jack to the recorder's microphone jack.
I put Windows Media Player on Repeat and let it record for 20 min or so.

I then played the recording through ear buds, putting the cassette player at the base of the pole and running the wire into the box. Even I thought there was a bluebird in there!!

It did seem to work.

Not exactly what you asked, but it is a useful technique for a bluebirder to know, and it might help attract a bluebird as well. I wonder if HOSP call would work just as well in luring HOSP....

Paul in Baltimore


Subject: RE: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 15:03:01 -0400
From: Bet Zimmerman <ezdz"at"charter.net>

Lynn wrote: You can buy a commercially produced tape of the purple martin song. They claim to have success with it by playing it early in the morning hours.....

Lynn, I think that might be kind of different since Purple Martins are colonial nesters, and they have scouts that come in advance to scope places out, and then the later birds rely on them for "advice." Bluebirds are territorial.

I did compile some tips on attracting bluebirds here:
http://www.sialis.org/attracting.htm

Bet from CT


Subject: RE: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 12:26:43 -0700 (PDT)
From: Perez Veronica <v_perez11"at"yahoo.com>

I have that product that plays the purple martin song and then for the other song birds. The first time I played it , I did get some bluebirds to check it out but soon therafter they realized that it was a hoax :) and they quit showing up. I think the bluebird pair changed their call a little since they were duped at first by my recording :).



From: Torrey [mailto:torrey_canyon"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 4:03 PM
Subject: RE: EABL song recording + loudspeakers = ?

You do have to be careful playing taped bird calls, tho. Some birds are very sensitive & can be disturbed enough to abandon their nests. Bluebirds are pretty tolerant, but using taped calls isn't something i'd try with every species.

Loons, which nest one pair per lake, are notorious for their sensitivity. My "loon call" came with the warning to not use it near an active nest. Loons will also abandon if the lake gets too many visitors or people get repeatedly too close to the nest.

Torrey Wenger
Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo, MI



From: Richard Harlow [mailto:raharlow"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007 2:42 PM
Subject: Need Information

I live in a semi-rural area of Vermont. I have seen Bluebirds in the vicinity, BUT not around my specific area. We do have open area, but not a lot. We live next to a lake and a creek. Farmland is within a mile by car or 1/2 mile as a crow flies.

Are there ways to attract Bluebirds without also attracting HOSP?
We have been fortunate so far, even though we have two other human houses near us, that HOSP and HOWR have not decided to take up residence in our Tree Swallow houses or in the natural cavities. As a matter of fact EUST, HOSP, and HOWR have not visited our property in the last 3 years.

Any guidance this group can give would be greatly appreciated.

Richard Harlow
Chittenden County
Milton, VT
Arrowhead Lake Area
raharlow"at"comcast.net



From: Shawn [mailto:shawnee4"at"charter.net]
Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007 3:05 PM
Subject: Re: Need Information

Hi Richard,

One way to attract Bluebirds (and many others) is with a birdbath, even with the lake and creek.

I've only been at this since about July of 2004, but I know one way to not attract HOSP is to only feed Black Oil Sunflower seeds if you have a feeder.
Also, don't feed "human" or junk food to the birds, especially bread. I hope this helps. Nice that you haven't had those unwanted visitors for three years, hopefully you can keep it that way! We have had some EUST, but so far, none of the others.

Shawn in Sevierville, TN



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007 3:33 PM
Subject: Re: Need Information

Richard,

From the description you give of your area, I would guess that your chances of having success with Bluebirds are high. .
If I were in your place, I would certainly begin by putting up as many pairs of Bluebird houses as your available space will allow, and monitoring them carefully. My situation here in Sunapee sounds much the same as yours, and I rarely ever see House Sparrows or Starlings at all. Keeping your houses well out in the open, away from from thickets or tree lines, will discourage House Wrens. (Remember that wrens are federally protected native
songbirds.)

I would certainly recommend that you get a good book about Bluebirds. Example: The Bluebird Monitor's Guide, but there are a number of other good ones on the market. That book will lead you to others, and you may wish to start a collection and eventually learn everything there is to know.

Bruce Burdett, New Hampshire Bluebird Conspiracy Sunapee NH

PS One small correction. I get permission from townspeople to install TWO (2) boxes on their property. * All my house are in pairs - 15 feet ± apart.


From: Paula Ziebarth [mailto:paulaz"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007 9:04 AM
Subject: Re: Need Information

Richard,

You are one lucky man - no HOSP in 3 years! If I have no HOSP in 3 weeks near my boxes, I am thrilled. Central Ohio is not Vermont apparently.

I would continue monitoring boxes weekly and expand your trail if you are so inclined. Bruce Burdett approaches homeowners in good EABL habitat and gets permission to install a box in their yard I believe. I have done this with some of my neighbors. You can also approach local officials to install a trail at a nearby park. I have done this on several occasions. I have provided the boxes through OBS and have the park personnel provide poles and baffles and install the boxes where I tell them - outside of HOWR habitat and spaced for EABL territorial requirements (pairs of boxes at least 100 yards apart). I monitor all boxes at least once a week.

Since you haveTRES in your area, pairing boxes about 12 - 15 feet apart works well to allow both TRES and EABL to nest side by side. A TRES will nest in one of the boxes and chase away all other TRES that try to nest in a box so close. This leaves the second box open for EABL. Placing boxes in most open area of your yard works best for attracting nesting EABL.

I wouldn't worry too much about HOSP if you have not seen one in 3 years, but it never hurts to be ready if they come. Check out Bet's great website
at: http://www.sialis.org/hosp.htm to learn a lot.

Paula Z
Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Kelley Family [mailto:herbsho"at"centurytel.net]
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2007 9:02 AM
Subject: Bluebirds not returning

Talking to people about bluebirds.
Seems like a common thread keeps coming up and that is, Yes I ahve had bluebirds, looks like I have great habitat, but they do not come back each year.
That is, returning is spotty.  Any how I can respond from those who are so much more experienced.
 
Herb Kelley

East Central Missouri


From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert"at" 4state.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 24, 2007 4:04 PM
Subject: EABL's in MO

Kelley family in Missouri and bluebirdsters:

For the last 15 years or more you should be getting easily a 75 % occupancy rate in bluebird houses during the nesting season in Missouri. That's IF your nest boxes are out in the open away from brush and trees and IF you monitor them every week or 10 days during the season to manage wasp and HOSP.

You may want to pair your boxes, as others have mentioned on the list, because you will have Tree Swallows in east-central MO. That way one box will have Trees and the other Blues.

If I had all of the TEA in the world (time, energy and ability) I would hang bluebird houses high in shade trees just to see how they would do here and to see what would nest in them. But that's another subject.

Good birding, Larry H. Joplin (southwest) Missouri.


From: Kelley Family [mailto:herbsho"at" centurytel.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 24, 2007 6:38 PM
Subject: Re: EABL's in MO

Lawrence, the timing of your mail is fantastic.
I live in a sparsely populated count, approximately 26,000. The county is
mostly farming with a surge in housing development.
Our county is next in line for a population jump as people from St.Louis and the surburbs move west.
This morning I presented a "bluebird talk" to approximately 50 people in our county.
Most have bluebirds, few, vey few monitor.
Gave copious handouts (seventeen pages plus house plans and traps) encouraging monitoring and the use of predator guards.
It is good to have bluebirds and it is even better to have them fledge.
Sold some people on the use of a telescoping pole, no one acknowledged that they had seen one before.
Brought applications for NABS and Missouri Bluebird Society. They all disappeared from the table. Had some of my NABS publications for show and tell. One gentleman saw the tree hanging box and the gears started to go around in his head. I told him about Linda's lift pole and he said I can make that. I encouraged him to try it and let me know how it worked. Gave them information on how to sign up for the list. Maybe a few will join us here. A representative of the local weekly paper was there. Told me many times how much she enjoyed the talk and said that she would be putting an article in the paper about the class. The class lasted two hours more or less.
I asked her to put my phone number in the paper so anyone interested could call me with questions, etc.
We talked about habitat and the proper placement of houses. But you know, I have placed houses at three neighbors, all in the woods and all three have bluebiirds nesting there. Have had problems with Wrens, but the wren guard is working OK for now.
And yes, we are exceeding 75% occupancy if you include Tree Swallows, Chickadees and the occasional Titmouse. On my small trail, I had had only one serious run-in with a HOSP, removing nests daily. Started with finding a HOSP nest on top of a male BB.

Herb Kelley
East Central Missouri


From: Ellen Lafouge [mailto:elafouge"at"wi.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 8:52 PM
Subject: Bluebirds and Territory

Hello,
I'm new to the group, but am hoping to have bluebirds nest in my boxes for a third year. I say hoping, because their royal majesties joyously arrived about 3 or so weeks ago here in Southeastern Wisconsin, (20 miles north of Milwaukee near Lake Michigan), but for the last few days her ladyship hasn't seemed very interested in the nest boxes like she was at first. The male would wing wave and jump in the boxes and the female would look inside and fly away and come back and look again, and even jump into one or another from time to time.
The last few days I haven't seen the female show interest in the boxes at all, though the male would fly over and land on them and go inside.

I could always seem to find them in the yard if I looked in the morning or evening, however I haven't seen them since yesterday morning, when they came for mealworms, nor heard their sweet soft calls. I get the feeling her majesty doesn't like his majesty's territory, and they have moved on somewhere else.
Weather is really fluctuating, from a record high of 78 two days ago to a much cooler and wetter 45 high today, with thunderstorms last night.

We have a Peterson box, a Springer chalet, and a NABS nestbox, all well baffled. There are a lot of other birds in our yard (we live about a half mile from an Audubon nature preserve on Lake Michigan), especially at the moment a large flock of juncos that are very rambunctuous and active in their aerial chases of one another. But I miss their royal majesties. I guess I wouldn't worry so much if I at least heard them or could see them on their usual perches. Am I just being bluebird neurotic, or could the female coax a male to abandon their territory and move away completely?

Best wishes to all,
Ellen Lafouge
Bayside, Wisconsin


From: Mary Beth Roen [mailto:mbroen"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 8:59 AM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds and Territory

Hi Ellen,
 
I'm glad to see another Wisconsinite on the list. I live near River Falls in the western part of the
state.
 
It is still early for nesting in my area. The pair bonding is still going on. I am glad if my Bluebirds
wait a while to start nesting, as in the past, I have lost early nestlings due hypothermia during
cold, wet spring storms. If it is cold and rainy for several days, it is difficult for the parent birds
to find enough insects for the babes. With such a shortage of natural nesting cavities in most
areas, I would be surprised if your Bluebird pair does not come back. I know that your season
is a little ahead of mine, but there is still a lot of time for the start of nesting.
 
Good luck to you and welcome to the list. You will find a wealth of knowledge here and someone
is always able to answer your questions.
 
Mary Roen, River Falls, WI
From: WoolwineHouse"at"aol.com [mailto:WoolwineHouse"at"aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 9:10 AM
Subject: Re: Bluebirds and Territory

Hi Ellen, the bluebird activity you are experiencing now prior to the nesting sounds about right to me.   I live in SW Virginia and this happened for about a month at my Bluebird box before a pair won the territory of our box.  This pair just finished building their nest a few days ago.   I remember seeing several males and females back and forth, up and down, in and out of the box.  There was a quiet time of about a 2-3 weeks, then activity again of the one pair making their nest!

 
Be patient....you'll probably see nesting activity very soon where you live.  Keep us posted. 
 
Christine Boran
Woolwine (Patrick Co), VA

From: Duane Rice [mailto:drbirdsong4"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 10:23 PM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds and Territory

Ellen,
Don't worry.
Yours are in a phase that will work itself out very soon.
Prior to nest box selection, the birds are trying to establish territory, relationships. etc.
They come out of nowhere, then seem like they're everywhere, then seem to disappear.
The next thing you know, you've got a nest in your box. And you never saw a thing.
Be patient, and nature will take care of the rest.
PS
If you weren't a" bluebird neurotic" you wouldn't be here.
You're among friends.
DR


From: plkldf"at"comcast.net [mailto:plkldf"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 6:10 AM
Subject: Artificial holes for nestboxes and painting boxes white

Paul Kilduff
trail at Oregon Ridge Park, Cockeysville (Baltimore Co) MD

Four of us (actually including one wonderful soul who doesn't even monitor at our trail) spent three weekends priming and painting all our boxes (including brand new larger-floored boxes, due to Linda Violett's suggestion that small floor sizes do not give pre-fledglings enough room to exercise their wings before first flight) gloss white.  The purpose is primarily functional -- increase reflectivity to reduce heat build up in hot summer -- but also esthetic -- they start to look like hell after a while.

That made me look for a new method of putting artificial "holes" on the boxes -- the purpose is to attract attention of cavity-seeking birds -- they may not see the hole in the box, especially with a roof which overhangs the hole (we use 12"x12" roofs on our NABS boxes).  When they get close they determine that the black spot is not a hole, but THIS one is!  I had used black magic marker, but I think it's better to turn off the signal once the box is occupied -- don't want to attract competitors for the box.  I then tried electrician's tape, but it looked terrible, and I'm trying to be looking good this season!

I put the question to our monitors and got a couple of suggestions, which let me to a craft store looking for self-adhesive black 2" ovals.  And what I found was 2" black vinyl stick-on letters!  So far so good, although the jury, so to speak, is still out.

The Os are the first to go, of course -- just use the center to fill in the hole in the O.  Next is Q, G, D, C, B....  I used a razor knife to carve an oval out of those letters.  I saw on Bet's site that she puts hers mostly on the roof, so I did about half on the roof and half low down on sides or fronts. 

I also use bright blue surveyor's tape, which I bought online, to provide a flash of blue to attract a male bluebird's attention.  Don't use woven cloth because it may unravel, causing a hazard to birds looking for nesting material (they can get tangled in it, believe me, I know!).  I ask our monitors to remove the blue tape as well as the artificial holes when the box is occupied -- don't want to attract any predators who may notice that flash of blue and come to investigate.

Paul


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 8:47 AM
Subject: Re: Artificial holes for nestboxes and painting boxes white

In the past we used to cut out a circle or even a square from 30 pound black felt paper used under roofing material. You could also use the back sides of left over asphalt shingles as these are black. Attach these to the nestboxes with a staple gun or thumb tack and you can remove them when you want. If you want to leave a fake black hole on the sides of the nestboxes. Use a paper cup with the bottom cut out, hold it tightly against the nestbox side and spray dark paint through the cup and on the side of the box making a quick black or brown circle. Keith Kridler

From: lviolett [mailto:lviolett"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 11:52 AM
Subject: Re: Artificial holes for nestboxes and painting boxes white

Artificial holes to attract cavity nesters to a (shiny white?) nestbox . . .  in full view? 
 
Here in southern Calif. we *hide* our boxes amongst the canopy of trees and if the boxes are painted, we do our best to choose colors to blend with natural surroundings so they don't attract vandals and/or thieves.  Birds have no trouble finding these camouflaged boxes, by the way.
 
Secondary cavity nesters are skilled home finders. 
 
Last week, an east-coast monitor requested a couple of my boxes to try as post-mounts (which I will be sending at no cost except postage).  But having boxes placed in full view of people strikes terror in my heart the way some folks view placing nestboxes in areas with heavy House Sparrow infestations.  So the first thing I did in preparation of sending off the boxes was to try to make the boxes disappear.  The natural wood look was painted over in creams, greys and tans to visually blur the box shape and to lighten the color for sun protection.  In a further attempt to blend the boxes into their future surroundings, coffee grounds were sprinkled on wet paint of one box to reduce paint sheen, grass clippings were used on others, some leaves, some mulch, sand, soft bark peelings.  There is no doubt in my mind that these camouflaged boxes will be found by secondary cavity nesters even though the only holes are on the face of the boxes. 
 
Adding artificial holes to nestbox sides and backs is a harmless past-time but I don't think it makes any difference to secondary cavity nesters. 
 
Linda Violett
Yorba Linda, Calif.

From: plkldf"at"comcast.net [mailto:plkldf"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 1:43 PM
Subject: Re: Artificial holes for nestboxes and painting boxes white

Hi, Linda,
 
Well, you may be right but my gut tells me they need it.  I don't know how to do a scientific study of this, because how do you know how much is due to the number of bluebirds in the area, the time they want to nest, etc.  It would be hard to compare one trail which did use artificial holes with another which didn't because the variables wouldn't be the same.  And of course you don't know how much is due to your own expectations (meaning me).  Still, would be interesting to find out if artificial holes and bright blue flags do increase occupancy.
 
But my experience shows me that the boxes are a lot more likely to get occupied if they have the "holes" and bright blue on them.  You may be right that it's only a harmless pastime though.
 
Regarding hiding the boxes, I have had some trouble with vandals, 0-2 instances per year.  (Once I actually caught friends of the little perp, but was unable to do anything further since the naturalist at the park didn't want to be bothered -- boys will be boys, basically.  Next time I'm calling state Natural Resources Police.)  But it's by far the exception and not the rule.  The boxes, not being in trees, are typically exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day.  We know they will pick up a lot of temp under the best of circumstances, and much more if they're dark-colored.  So we'll see.  I was hoping for some third nestings, but at this point, given how late everything is, I'll settle for some additional second nestings.  I don't think you shudder any more at the thought of white boxes out in the open than I do at rats or squirrels climbing down into hanging boxes!  (I guess I would also say that any vandal wo! rth his salt is going to be able to see a nestbox regardless of what color you paint it...?  Young teenage males are almost as good at finding things to mess with as bluebirds are at finding cavities, I'll bet.)
 
In any case, it's not axiomatic to me that a bluebird's programming is going to make it think that a roughly cube-shaped structure on a pole is worth exploring for a cavity without its being able to see the hole from a distance, and from the air.  However, I may well be underestimating them.
 
:o)
 
thanks!
Paul

From: denisefarmer"at"comcast.net [mailto:denisefarmer"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 11:06 PM
Subject: RE: Artificial holes for nestboxes and painting boxes white

I removed my artificial holes this morning. Though the boxes are not truly claimed yet, I figured since the BB's and Downy have been in and out of them so many times, I don't need them any more. Did I remove them too soon?
 
Denise

From: lviolett [mailto:lviolett"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 4:50 PM
Subject: Re: Artificial holes / larger boxes

The topic of artificial holes would be a good discussion for the off-season because there is no harm done by adding or omitting them.   I am, of course, very glad to hear that you are building roomier boxes.  One of the myths about building roomier Bluebird boxes is that larger clutches will be laid in them.   If you look through old Bluebird-L archives you will see that one of our regular well-respected posters spoke of a monitor who reported having 8 and 9 Bluebird eggs to a clutch  because he used large boxes.
 
No one on the List questioned that information.
I must have missed that one!!!
:)
 
Anyway, your birds should be more comfortable in the roomier boxes.  Let us know if you notice any difference of survival/fledge rates at the end of the year.
 
Linda Violett

Yorba Linda, Calif.


From: Bob Walshaw [mailto:walshaw1"at"cox.net]
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2007 1:28 PM
Subject: Attracting Birds

The May 2007 issue of the Readers Digest has an answer regarding attracting birds: "Park under trees!" Bluebird Bob


From: Richard Harlow [mailto:raharlow "at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 11:46 PM
Subject: Help - Need Input

I have 7 boxes total, 5 boxes that are on 10' steel poles sunk 2 feet into the ground. 2 boxes that are near a fence and about 5 feet above ground.
1 box is a Wood Duck box.
The fence boxes have been investigated by TRES, but no takers.
Presently 2 are occupied 6 are not. The ones that are occupied are some distance form the other boxes, next to water and out of the way. One by TRES w/nest and the other by BCCH with 3 eggs.
I think this is pretty poor.
What am I doing wrong??? Placement? Weather?(it has been cold) I don't want to jinx myself by saying (so far) no ____.

Richard in N. Vermont


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd "at"verizon.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:32 AM
Subject: Re: Help - Need Input

Richard, in VT,
How are your neighbors up there doing?
Are you and your neighbors *seeing* Bluebirds in your area? Maybe it still is too cold where you are. Here in Sunapee we now have some nesting Bluebirds, but it has been a slow season, probably because of the weird weather patterns this year.
Have you paired your houses? *All* my houses, (72) are paired, and pairing works well for me . Are your houses well out in the open? Do you have a lot of stray cats around? Raccoons? House Sparrows? Have you and your neighbors had success in the past?

Bruce Burdett SW NH


From: Richard Harlow [mailto:raharlow "at"comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 11:07 AM
Subject: Re: Help - Need Input

Thanks for the reply, Bob, Mike and Bruce.

Yes, the weather has produced a weird spring! Cold, cool, hot, cool, warm, cold, hot, etc., etc. The Tree Swallow pair was working on nesting when it was hot, and then left when it was cold/cool. Both birds flying together, one going in the box, BUT not staying in the box.

On the other hand the Black-capped Chickadee leaves the box as soon as she perceives me coming. When I check no one is home, and I have only caught sight of her once leaving. Very secretive!
>
> Richard, in VT,
> How are your neighbors up there doing?
> Are you and your neighbors *seeing* Bluebirds in your area? Maybe it
> still is too cold where you are. Here in Sunapee we now have some
> nesting Bluebirds, but it has been a slow season, probably because of
> the weird weather patterns this year.

No, we are not seeing any Bluebirds. I have seen Bluebirds in our general area when we first moved here, but have not seen any for several years. I live at the end of a dead-end street on 4.7 ac. w/ only one other house next door when we first moved here. Now up the street there are two other houses with fragmented woods in between. However, there are woods next to our property with an ATV trail in the woods and farmland next to that. I would not call this prime Bluebird habitat, but one can always hope. Yet, we have many, many BCCH and TRES, as well as RBNU, WBNU, and a pair of GCFL.

> Have you paired your houses? *All* my houses, (72) are paired, and
> pairing works well for me . Are your houses well out in the open? Do
> you have a lot of stray cats around? Raccoons? House Sparrows? Have
> you and your neighbors had success in the past?

Paired nest boxes - No.
My nest boxes are out in the open, especially the two that I had hoped would attract Bluebirds. TRES boxes are in the middle of a small beaver meadow that took shape after they abandon their pond and their dam broke (also on our property).
One cat intermittently in the wee hours or during darkness. He leaves in a hurry when he sees me.
Raccoons - Yes they hunt crayfish and frogs down by the lake (which is
next to our property.
No House Sparrows - shhhhhh.
There has been NO attempt to attract cavity nesters before we arrived on the scene as far as I know.

I think you may be right about the weather being the detractor.

It is cool and raining hard today!

Again thanks to all who responded.

Richard


From: Duane Rice [mailto:drbirdsong4 "at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 7:53 PM
Subject: Re: Help - Need Input

Richard,
It doesn't sound like you're doing anything "wrong".
The weather here has caused a few delays and changes in nesting habits, but once it got it's act together, things started happening very fast.
If I were to change anything about my trail (and I am), I would pair more boxes. I didn't, because we never had so many TRES before this year.
I often try moving boxes to diiferent locations. I once had a box that was never used for three years. I finally moved it thirty feet in an easterly direction, and it's been used ever since. Go figure.
In most cases, I move them further than that. The point is, I try to be flexable in where I put them.
Be patient. It sound like you've got some birds interested, and who knows, maybe the others will soon "get busy".
DR


From: Richard Harlow [mailto:raharlow "at"comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:08 PM
Subject: Re: Help - Need Input

Thanks Duane, will do!

All my TRES boxes face east or easterly, including the one BCCH is nesting in. However, my Bluebird boxes are facing south, unfortunately, because of the orientation of the fence they are near. If I face them east they will face into my neighbors yard where kids, atv's, dog etc. are housed.
My other competition is that I have many snags (left on purpose) on my property, some small and some large with holes. So that could also be a reason more boxes aren't used. However, I have not seen the holes used by TRES.
I will try and be patient, but that is tough -...

Richard


From: Bob Walshaw [mailto:walshaw1 "at"cox.net]
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 1:38 AM
Subject: Black imitation holes

I use a big black magic marker to make imitation holes on the roof and sides of the boxes so that any direction a bird flies by the box it will see a hole. Then I just refresh them every spring. It is like using a fancy fishing lure for fishing - an extra attraction. How effective is it? I don't know, but when I started doing it several years ago I began to have nests in areas that did not attract birds well previously. Bluebird Bob.


From: Duane Rice [mailto:drbirdsong4 "at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 11:53 AM
Subject: RE: Black imitation holes

Bob,
I think I'll give this a try on some boxes that seem to remain unoccupied on a regular basis.
I usually just move them, but this would be easier.
I never considered the reason why, but it's worth a try. Fiile under Advice Thanks, DR


From: Cher [mailto:thebbnut "at"hughes.net]
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 1:45 PM
Subject: Re: Black imitation holes

Bob, I've always heard that when you make imitation "cavities" in order to attract birds in the spring, it's best to remove them as soon as the box has an occupant so as not to attract the attention of competitors. I think that's why most people use black cardboard or paper or even circles cut from black plastic coffee can lids - so that they can be easily removed once they've served their purpose.

Cher ~ Finger Lakes region, NY State



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