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Bluebird Migration


From: "emcooper" emcooper"at"bayou.com
Subject: Bluebird Migration
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 06:58:49 -0600

I think I read somewhere that Bluebirds migrate at night. I am not sure if I have this mixed up with another bird or no. If anyone has this information and where they read it, please let me know.

My thickly populated Bluebirds have mostly all moved south. There are about 4 that have chosen to stay and they come to the feeder. They sit in the pecan tree about 15 ft. from the feeder when I go to refill it.

Evelyn Cooper
Delhi, La....


From: "Keith & Sandy Kridler" kridler"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Re: Bluebird Migration
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 07:35:39 -0600

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Bluebirds nearly all migrate during the day light hours. Extensive research done for over 40 years at huge communication towers where birds are killed at night during migration seldom ever report finding any species of bluebirds. towerkill.com had a website that shows the research being conducted at tall buildings and towers across the country. At this time of year the bluebirds in the south will be gathering in small flocks where ever there is shelter from the predators and wind and a constant food supply. Normally this is along streams, rivers or lake edges where thick woods offer all the items they require now. If you have power plants in the area with "hot water" lakes then these shore lines are an excellent place to begin looking for your bluebirds. KK


From: "judymellin" judymellin"at"netzero.net
Subject: end of migration?
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 07:40:16 -0700

I was checking one of my reference books (John Eastman's Birds of Field and Shore), and he says the following (this is info on Eastern bluebirds):

Eastern bluebirds reside year-round in their southern range and nesting commences there in February and March. Each 10 degrees of latitude farther north translates to about 3 weeks later in the time for the onset of breeding activity. In the northern range, bluebirds begin arriving in March, with migration peaking in early to middle April. Sometimes the male moves several days ahead of the female; other times the pair arrives together.

So, it would seem that, with the wacky weather affecting so many parts of the country, there are birds still to come! We have had a slight bump in migration here in NE IL. this week with some strong southerly winds and blues are being reported for the first time this season in several places. 

Judy Mellin
NE IL.


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, November 08, 2004 8:49 AM
Subject: birds migrating Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas a cool 50*F after a north "cold" front moves through.

...Sunday I was out all day and bluebirds were flying high overhead all day long floating by like monarch butterflies. They were flying so high it was hard to see them. The small flocks were so scattered out that only a few would be within sight and the rest were giving out their location only by their plaintive calls. They are so hard to locate by their calls! It is like being in a huge football stadium and trying to locate only a dozen people out of the whole crowd occasionally ringing small silver bells every few minutes. Everytime I thought I had the flock located they turned out to be some other species of birds sailing on across the sky! It sure would be nice to know where these birds hatched out! Keith Kridler



From: Patricia Self [mailto:cself "at"elmore.rr.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2004 10:39 AM
Subject: The Bluebird

Hello, Bruce--I'm so new to this Bluebird list and thus far am finding all sorts of different people, all interesting and none unwilling to say his/her piece.

Although Charles and I've had bluebird houses for years, we neglected them the past few years and the houses fell into disrepair. We've just replaced them all and plan to take up active watching again (I'm now retired, and Charles has been for two years, so we have no excuses any more). My question has multiplied into a couple, after reading some of the conversations.

----------------------

When we put up the houses (maybe 1986 or so), I used a spray treatment on
the posts called "Tanglefoot." The original can is long used up, so I
asked in a couple of stores nearby (but not the Feed and Grain store where I bought it before) what they had to keep snakes off the posts. What appears to be the only available treatment to keep away snakes is a container of granules, renewed every two months or so. One would sprinkle this stuff around the base of the bird-house post, I guess. Does anybody use this sort of thing? Is it a danger to other animals? Do birds pick up the stuff, thinking it's a food?

To the internet I went, only to find that unintended consequences seem to have given the manufacturer an entirely different use for it these days:
applied to rooftops and other places where unwanted birds light and/or build nests, it is now a bird repellent. I find that repelling.

----------------------

You're in New Hampshire, and yet you say bluebirds haven't been seen for a month. Bluebirds left here long months ago. Would somebody please tell me about the migratory practices of the Eastern Bluebird?

Patricia Self and
Deatsville, Alabama



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd "at"tds.net]
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2004 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: The Bluebird

Patricia,
Here where we are in SW NH, the Bluebirds tend to disappear from the nesting neighborhood (site) shortly after the last clutch of babies flies. Then after 2 or 3 weeks, they all tend to come back and hang around for awhile, foraging in the area, and even sometimes checking out the house. Finally, around the beginning of November, they disappear for good. Some say they wander south, though just far enough to escape the worst wintry cold. Some say they pull back into the woods, keep out of sight, eat seeds and berries, and hunker down out of the wind. It's generally agreed that they don't "migrate' in the sense that some that some birds do. They don't go way down south, or to South and Central America. My guess is that the Bluebirds that breed in Sunapee NH spend the winter in southern Connecticut. I saw them all winter in CT when we lived there. They even winter now in the southernmost NH towns and up the major river valleys.

Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: Torrey [mailto:torrey_canyon "at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2004 12:06 PM
Subject: bluebird migration

Bluebirds are short-distance migrants. Here in southern Michigan, we may have a few through the winter, providing the weather doesn't get too bad. They don't stay on their nesting grounds, though -- Not enough shelter. Look for them in areas with open water & winter fruit (like in swamps). Our banding coordinator has winter bluebirds on a regular basis. His house is in the woods & he provides a heated bird bath. It's a real treat to see 4 or 5 bluebirds in the middle of winter. (Most of them are males, too, probably trying to get the earliest claim on the best nesting sites come spring.) Bluebird season is still on-going, it's just harder to find now. :-) ===== Torrey Moss Kalamazoo Nature Center Kalamazoo, MI


From: paradocs2 [mailto:paradocs2"at"adelphia.net]
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 2:07 PM
Subject: Flying South

Does anyone know whether feeding bluebirds for many winters (year after year) will eventually affect the natural tendency to head south for the winter months? I wonder if the loss of a natural behavior will eventually have a negative impact on the generations that overwinter because of my artificial supply of food? Steven Klein Middletown, MD 21769


From: Kenny Kleinpeter [mailto:kpkmajk"at"cox.net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 8:18 AM
Subject: RE: Flying South

Secondary cavity nesters are by nature, most adaptable. This goes not only for their nesting habits but their feeding habits. Bluebirds have adapted their daily, monthly and yearly habits, including migration to adapt to the food supply. That supply, mostly insects an ever-changing, volatile source, extremely dependent on the weather. So, bluebirds are quite used to the “feast or famine” of food sources. Our feeding of bluebirds is nowhere near significant enough to cause a specific (as in species) shift in behavior. If we all stopped feeding them tomorrow, they’d simply find the next best source. I say, feed away! The more bluebirds you can hold in your area, the merrier. If it gets too tough for them, they’ll leave without as much as telling you “adios!” J Kenny Kleinpeter Baton Rouge, LA VP, LBBS


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 10:08 AM
Re:Flying South Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas ...

Kenny answered the feeding/migration question but there are still lots of bird migration questions that are coming up with different answers as years progress. It is interesting to note that many of the cavity nesting species do NOT migrate from the Northern States. Many Canadian bird species only come south when there is a food shortage in the northern forest land. Some bird species tend to migrate with day length changes, some species migrate at the height of the food supply season as soon as they fledge their young. In 1935 the government experts felt certain that Robins a close cousin to the bluebirds migrated when temperature and food became available in spring and only went south when food supplies got short. Their migration in spring and fall speeded up and slowed down according to a stable food supply and air temperature. By 1935 in general, bird species that were breeding over a very wide region north to south (like bluebirds do) the experts were getting evidence from banding that suggested that these species of birds in the very far north of their breeding grounds (Canada and the border region) would leap frog over the birds that were breeding in the middle of the USA and migrate all the way to the very southern states. While many of the birds just on the borderline of severe winter weather would tough it out and stay put. Eastern Bluebirds banded in Minnesota have been recovered in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana flying right over bluebirds wintering in Illinois. One of Ann Wick's banded Eastern Bluebirds (born near Black Earth Wis.) turned up just south of the Big Thicket in east Texas almost to the gulf coast. Myrna Pearman and Brian Shantz have banded 10,000 Mountain Bluebirds in Alberta, Canada and have had recoveries as far east as central Texas and New Mexico (and some other states). Mountain bluebirds are seen in winter right on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and in Brewster county in far west Texas and on down deep into Mexico anywhere a food supply is abundant. Extreme winter weather goes in cycles. In the late 1890's several massive cold winters wiped out the "open range" cattle business from western Canada south to Montana and Wyoming all the way into Texas. Cattle starved or froze to death by the millions many of these owned by English Noblemen heavily in debt to English banks. The deep freeze moved slowly eastward setting record colds in many areas still on the books today. These same winter freezes wiped out the daffodil business in Holland bringing the northern hemisphere to a standstill and bringing on one of the first world wide economic "depressions". More than 1,800 named varieties of "Paper Whites" a non cold hardy daffodil were exterminated in Holland. In Holland the flower business switched to more cold hardy Tulips and many animal and bird species in the northern USA and across Canada and northern Europe were reduced to record low numbers. All across the vast western prairie states, grasses and grains were planted so that hay could be cut and grain could be fed instead of just open grazing of long horned cattle. More cold hardy cattle were introduced. Millions of miles of barbed wire was installed by farmers and ranchers. Billions of wood fence posts were shipped by rail to the west and entire trains cars loaded with lumber and settlers to fill the void left by the loss of cattle streamed westward. Return trains to the east carried millions of pounds of bleached buffalo bones to be ground up and used on Eastern farmland for fertilizer. With the settlers came houses, fences, small farms and TREES. Following the settlers and the trees and barbed wire the Eastern Bluebirds began their westward expansion into the once vast unbroken prairie land. Migration and habitat expansion is a truly complex issue for birds and other animals. It would be fascinating if we could go back 20 generations in our family trees to plot where and why our fore fathers migrated! KK


From: Lynn Ward [mailto:lWard"at"pmai.org]
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 9:54 AM
Subject: RE: Flying South

Steven,

In my experience, after feeding bluebirds year after year, I have not concluded that providing a food supply deters them from heading south.  Example: This year I had a very late third nesting.  The parents and three juveniles had been visiting my feeder daily (suet and mealworms) since early September when the young fledged.  The last time they visited the feeder was Thanksgiving morning after a six-inch snowfall.  They have not been back.  The birds knew there was a constant food supply, yet have left the area.  The interesting thing is that there are other bluebirds still in the area that don't visit the feeder - a male was in my yard singing away last weekend. 

Last year, I had no bluebirds overwinter at all.  The year before, I had at least half a dozen stay throughout the winter through many snowstorms and very cold weather.  There just doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what moves them or causes them to stay.

Lynn Ward
South Central Michigan


From: M Mac [mailto:mbmacvic"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2005 9:21 AM
Subject: Female Traveling Alone?

Hi experts
Okay, I am over my moodiness
I saw a clay colored bird about the size of a bb looking at my nextbox from a high tree top. The next box has a bright blue ribbon on it. I did not see her tail and she flew away towards me over my house so I am not sure but could she be a female checking to see if the flash of blue was a male or do they migrate already in pairs.

Mel
southeastern ma



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2005 10:05 AM
Subject: Re Avian navigation

Keith,
What is your personal belief about how migrating birds can navigate with such astonishing accuracy? Do you believe that they respond somehow to various magnetic fields? I gather that there are many theories.
As for me, I haven't the slightest idea.
The most amazing story I've heard is the one about the cliff-nesting sea-birds who were captured, tagged, caged, and flown across the Atlantic to some cliffs in Canada where they were released. In no time they were right back in their original cliffs. How did they do this?
Likewise, how do some of our own cavity-nesters find their way back to the same neighborhoods, even the same houses, where they nested the previous year?



From: RICHARD SCHUMAN [mailto:rtschuman"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 11:39 AM
Subject: RE: Leave boxes up all winter?

Hello. I am new to this list and have been reading all of your postings and learning some interesting things.

I live in New Jersey and have never seen any bluebirds here in the winter.
This year was our third season with bluebird nest boxes and we actually had two broods for the first time this summer.

My latest family fledged the first week of August. They were around for awhile afterward but have now apparently moved on, because our mealworm feeder has been very quiet for the past two weeks or so, save for a few wrens and titmice.

Does anyone know if bluebirds migrate to warmer climates from the New Jersey area?



From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert"at"4state.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 11:19 PM
Subject: EABL winter in NJ

Richard in New Jersey:

Eastern Bluebird is not real common in New Jersey in winter, but they can be
found: CBC data the last few years indicates roughly "one bluebird per party hour."

That means that for an average birder to go out for an hour birding in New
Jersey in the winter, he or she should be able to find you one Eastern
Bluebird.

Good birding, Larry H. Joplin MO.



From: Kathy [mailto:howbizr"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 1:23 PM
Subject: Re: Leave boxes up all winter?

I have a really hard time seeing this map without saving it to my computer and zooming in. But I do think NJ is in the purple or year-round range, which means you should see them most winters.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/programs/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Eastern_Bluebird.html

Kathy Haines
Central Ohio



From: Mary Beth Roen [mailto:mbroen"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 8:59 AM
Subject: Lingering EABL

Hi everyone,

I was really surprised Sunday morning on my way home from church, when I saw a Blulebird still here! The nice weather we have been having, along with a bumper crop of berries must have made him linger in the area longer than usual. He was hanging around one of my nest boxes. It sure made my day here in Western Wisconsin!

Mary Roen



From: Maria Pino [mailto:mfpino"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 9:17 PM
Subject: Re: Lingering EABL

I have bluebirds all through the winter. They usually are the adults and their babies, although I have had others visit my feeders. I live in southeastern Massachusetts. I wrote last week that I still have yellow warblers eating at my meal worm and suet feeders. I thought they began to migrate from this area in late July . Has anyone else seen them? If they stay here through the winter will they survive?

Thanks

Maria
Norton, MA


From: Dick Stauffer [mailto:sapl"at"agt.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2006 11:32 PM
Subject: First Mountain Blue

I received an email today of a sighting of a Male Mountain Bluebird in Red Deer, Alberta on Feb 21. This is a least a month early for the blues to arrive back. The weather has turned nasty with 6+ inches of snow & 10 to 15 degrees F temperatures....
Dick Stauffer, Olds Alberta, 50 miles north of Calgary



From: Cher [mailto:bluelist"at"localnet.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:40 AM
Subject: Re: Feeding the bluebirds

Shari et al,

From what I've read on this List and elsewhere, Bluebirds don't "migrate" in the classic sense. They're short-distance migrators, will go only as far as necessary to escape the worst weather. The winter of '03-'04, the Bluebirds that nested in my backyard habitat here in Central NY State stayed the whole winter, the whole family of them - adults, first and second nesting young - coming for mealworms and suet mix once or twice a day, and to drink from my heated birdbath. The rest of the day, they were off hiding somewhere in the bushes out back, presumably eating the berries that grow wild in the hedgerow. On particularly nasty days, they might come begging more than once a day.
And a few times, when it got really, really cold, they disappeared for a few days at a stretch. They probably mini-migrated until the worst of the weather system had passed, then came back.

Come spring, the adults chased off the young, and nested again in my nestboxes. That following winter, '04-'05, they all left in September-October, as they had done in prior years, although I did everything precisely the same as I'd done the previous fall. Same mealworms, same feeding schedule, same suet mix, same heated birdbath.
Presumably, the hours of light and dark were the same that year, too. [;-)

The only thing predictable about these beautiful birds is their unpredictability.

Cher



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 8:26 AM
Subject: Bluebirds migrating due to light?

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Some bird species head south well ahead of the cold temperatures. Others seem to wait for the free ride they get from a strong cold front and they ride the wind hundreds of miles a day just as the Monarch Butterflies do.

It is interesting that many of the cavity nesters like titmice and chickadees and the woodpeckers really don't seem to migrate in massive numbers. For most species it really depends on what foods they will eat.

For bluebirds it seems to depend more on the severity of the winters and the amount of available food. Mockingbirds and Carolina Wrens are a couple of species that rapidly expanded their northern winter ranges with mild winters and more suet and food at feeders that they can eat. Many of these species can survive a winter with a couple of really cold weeks and then the next season more of the young from these parents who don't migrate also remain in the far north.

As more power plants are built they dump millions of gallons of hot water into rivers and lakes and this creates micro climates where insects and other food is available even during the coldest months. Another good feeding area in river bottoms in the far north is near municipal water treatment plants as again they dump a lot of warm water preventing freezing of the river down stream from the plants.

Many birds have learned to sleep on top of or even inside of street lights or in the attics or in the open carports where humans or their buildings provide warmth or at least shelter during the night. Hog, dairy and poultry operations are now in massive buildings with a steady supply of flies and maggots and MANY species of insects in the litter and manure that gets spread even during winter months. During the day it is common to see insect eating birds hovering around exhaust fans feeding on insects leaving these types of buildings.

Global warming in Saint Paul Minn.?
In "The English Sparrow In North America" book published in 1889 there is an interesting account or documentation of what winter was like in the 1870's in that area. I am going to copy a couple of paragraphs describing winter there from the book:

"English Sparrows were introduced at Saint Paul, Minn. as early as the fall of 1876; yet at the present time there are so few that they are seldom noticed. The following statement by an observant resident of that place, Mr.
Morton Barrows, shows at least one cause, and that undoubtedly the principal one, for this state of things, He Says:

""Our streets are not cleaned in winter, sleds being used universally, Moreover, we have no thaws, and everything remains frozen solid until spring. At 30 degrees below zero horse droppings freeze almost instantly, and are generally covered with the loose fine snow of the streets as they fall, that is, it is so cold that there is always a fine, loose surface snow, from 1 to 5 inches deep, even in the most used streets, and anything falling into that is quickly buried by passing teams.

Not much grain is moved here in any weather, especially not in winter. The ground is generally covered deep with snow from the middle of November until April, and I do not see what Sparrows can find to feed on. Again, we have more or less deposit each day, even in clear weather. When it is intensely cold spicule fall in large quantities, generally in the morning, while snow-storms are very frequent. All manner of refuse is thus quickly covered.""

This book was published just before the MASSIVELY deadly winters of
1889>1891. This was the time frame when cold swept down through the
1889>plains
states and wiped out the mostly English cattle operations from Montana to Texas and ended "free range" cattle operations for good as nearly all cattle in the "west" not fed or sheltered perished. The cold spread around the world in the northern hemisphere at that time and wiped out the flower trade in Holland to the point they switched to growing the cold hardy Tulip bulbs.

Cold winters with snow and ice kill out birds that have forgotten they need to migrate every 20 or 30 years. It would be interesting for someone living around Saint Paul Minn. to comment on what this farmer saw just 130 years ago during his lifetime in this area. I recall the severe winters in Northeast Ohio in the early 1960's where diesel fuel turned to jelly in outside tanks. Again in the late 1970's cold, snow and ice wiped out the non migrating bluebirds in much of the country.

It is amazing to me that the bluebird species can endure such a wide range of breeding conditions and predators! It is hard for me to imagine people on this list with bluebirds and swallows that only have a high daily temperature in the upper 40's this week while we are baking in the south with overnight LOW temperatures only in the low 70's. My tomatoes are actually cooking in the sun and you have to protect the orange tomato fruit from the sun or the fruit sunburns.KK


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 12:41 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding the bluebirds

Shari, according to info I have read, records show that a certain percentage of Bluebirds do not migrate. They are called "stragglers". Just because one has never seen them around doesn't mean they are not and they may be spending the winter fairly close to you. They mostly hang tight to the woods for cover in the winter.

I say this because in 1989 when we had some horrific ice and snow for several days, my husband found some huddled together frozen to death in a warehouse near his shop. We had no idea they even over-wintered here.

These birds froze just a few yards from where I now have a box and also a bluebird feeder. I was not a bluebirder, but became one and started offering food in the winter so they would know where they could find it. There is a little group that over-winters with me, but the bigger percentage moves a little farther south every year. My husband's hunting camp is 1 1/2 hours south of us and in the fall and winter you can see many flocks of them there forging. I have sat in his truck at his deer stand watching them. More fun than deer hunting!

It does seem our climate is different many years. I had petunias to bloom all winter this year and they are still alive since spring of 2005, which seldom ever happens.

Evelyn, Dehli LA



From: Bar JW Farm [mailto:barjwfarm"at"msn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 1:14 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding the bluebirds

Do the Central Texas bluebirds migrate or do they overwinter here also?

-diane



From: happywebl"at"comcast.net [mailto:happywebl"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding the bluebirds

We've always had bluebirds over-winter here, and they roost in the nestbox that they used during the breeding season. We have lots of native berries in our area, and lots of grapes left over after the harvest. The vines usually aren't trimmed until December or January, so there are usually some grapes for them to eat (or raisins!) until then.

I have never fed the bluebirds until this past winter, when it was rainy for most of the months of April and May, and colder than usual. Then I mixed up some BB banquet and put it out every morning.

....

My chicks are now 18 days old, and still in the nest. It's a chilly, dreary day, so I hope they wait until later in the week when we are due for a real warm-up!

Barbara in Cloverdale, CA



From: David Gwin [mailto:David.Gwin"at"cityofcarrollton.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2:15 PM
Subject: RE: Feeding the bluebirds

Hi, Diane:

Here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area ... we actually have a lot more bluebirds in the Winter (i.e. we are temporarily enjoying Maynard, Bruce, Torrey and Bet's bluebirds), than we do during the warmer breeding season. BTW ... it is a real treat since most bluebirds flock together in groups of 12 to 20 birds during the Winter. You haven't seen anything until a whole flock of vibrant blue birds breaks up the brown of a winter landscape in Texas.

Enjoy,
David

P.S. - I have read that prior to the introduction of HOSP and EUST, the flocks of wintering bluebirds were huge. Take care.



From: Kelley Family [mailto:herbsho"at"centurytel.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:43 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding the bluebirds

We spot BB in the winter here in east central Missouri. Not sure where they find food, inscets are gone and the berries eaten. We see them gathering in
the heavily wooded "hollows". Guess the depressions keep them out of the
wind. I have converted a few of my boxes to brooders but come spring the physical evidence is that they do not use them.

Herb Kelley



From: Maynard Sumner [mailto:m-r-sumner"at"juno.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:54 PM
Subject: RE: Feeding the bluebirds

David,

You do not get all of my Bluebirds. I have 10 to 12 that use my boxes
on cold, wet and windy nights.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI



From: Lynn Emerich [mailto:lemerich"at"epix.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 5:20 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding the bluebirds

I live in SE Pa and have bb's all year. I keep a heated birdbath and
have 6 or 8 at a time drinking. They may disappear for a week, but
they always come back. I have never seen evidence of them using the houses during the winter, but sometimes see them at the suet cakes.

Lynn near Bernville, PA



From: roy pischer [mailto:tlp4456"at"msn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 9:57 PM
Subject: EABL Overwintering

We had at least 15 EABL overwinter on our Southwest Missouri farm last year.
One day extremely cold (wind chill 15 below!), I counted 15 EABL at my mealworm feeder. That day I fed them dozens of times... They were roosting in the hollow of a soft elm in my "kitchen yard," and as soon as I opened the kitchen door to refill the feeder, the EABL would rush out and hover around my head. As soon as I stepped three feet away, they swarmed the feeder. I never worried about the mealies freezing! :)

Trudy Pischer
Willard, MO



From: denisefarmer"at"comcast.net [mailto:denisefarmer"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 11:11 PM
Subject: RE: Feeding the bluebirds

Milder temps and a good supply of food will keep them farther north. They may do local migrations in your area just as Goldfinch do who fly around feeding at different feeders and food sources all the time. It has been recorded on Project Feeder Watch with Cornell that many birds such as the Red Bellied Woodpecker is being found further and further north each year due to better food supplies. I know that everything I plant or nearly everything, is meant for the birds to eat. I have planted 50 Red Osier Dogwood bushes that hopefully will fruit next year and feed the birds, Crab apple trees which should be mature enough in 2 years to fruit, cherry and blue berry bushes have been planted for the birds and so forth. Lots of different birds do small migrations south (i.e., not going all the way to Mexico or South America) if they can find food where they are. The only ones who absolutely must go truly south are those that eat only bugs such as the Swallows.

Denise


From: EHDerry"at"aol.com [mailto:EHDerry"at"aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 9:00 AM
Subject: Re: EABL Overwintering

Trudy and List: For the past several years we have spent winters in AZ. The first winter we went there, in 2003, we drove. We left here on New Year's Eve and probably went through MO on our way to Oklahoma City, on Jan. 2nd. We stopped at a rest stop on I-44 between Springfield and Joplin. During our stop there, I took a walk around the perimeter of the area. While walking, I heard a familiar song. I glanced over at the trees in the center of the courtyard, and there were several bluebirds flying from tree to ground to feed. It was such a pleasant site in the middle of winter.
We now fly to AZ, but I often wish we could drive through that area to see the bluebirds again.
Also, during the winter of 2000-01 we had bluebirds that overwintered in our yard in Western New York State. That was the first year we had ever had them nest in our yard. I did not feed mealworms that winter but did have bluebird banquet that I put out. But, I think the big draw was the heated birdbath. They would often come to drink the water. I have pictures of several of them at the bath and at the feeder with snow on both the feeder and the edges of the birdbath.
AZ is a nice respite to get away from the cold and snow in the north, but I sure miss the winter birds.
Judy Derry
Lockport, NY
(Western NY State)



From: Kathleen Arnold [mailto:koscharn"at"cox.net]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 11:38 AM
Subject: RE: Feeding the bluebirds

Being nearly on the Oklahoma border, I believe I am north of Evelyn, and our bluebirds stay here all winter. I don't see them every day, but I am not outside as much either. The only times I haven't seen them are during snow or ice storms, and I suspect they have moved temporarily into the woods for cover.

So I would suspect you have year-round bluebirds whether or not you actually see them.

Kate Arnold
Paris, Texas



From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert"at"4state.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2006 6:53 AM
Subject: Joplin bluebirds

Judy in NY and Bluebirdsters:
I'd like to think that some of those overwintering bluebirds in Joplin last
winter were "mine."

These mild past winters we've had lots of EABL in the winter (CBC's, winter
counts, etc.).

The nesting season here in Kansas and Missouri started off slowly this year.
Some
momentum now, but, so far, is not a real strong season IMO.

Good birding, Larry H. Joplin (sw) MO.



From: Bet Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 5:12 PM
Subject: RE: Feeding the bluebirds

Denise wrote: The only ones who absolutely must go truly south are those that eat only bugs such as
the Swallows.

Actually I was just reading that Tree Swallows actually eat berries (90% are bayberry/waxberry
[Myrica carolinenses] and Wax Myrtle [Myrica cerifera]) in the winter and during migration, and
possibly when insects are unavailable. (Beal, 1918) I never realized this until someone emailed me
that they saw huge flocks eating them in the early spring, at which point I emailed back....are you
sure? And they were right.

>From Birds of North America online: Tree Swallows..."Readily digest waxy coating composed of fats
(glycerides of stearic, palmitic, myristic, and oleic acids; Place and Stiles 1992). Exocarp rich in
both protein and carbohydrate; endocarp (stone) passed through gut intact. Apparently able to
subsist on bayberries alone for long periods in winter (Hausman 1927)."

You know how some people say they learn something new every day? I learn I was wrong every day :-)

Bet from CT


From: Snoopy [mailto:snoopy"at"wmis.net]
Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 8:18 AM
Subject: Re: Season is over?

Mary,
are you in very north WI?
Your post just really peeked my curiosity because my blues never leave here until late October/early November!
Maybe I am just lucky? Or maybe you are further north and that might make sense too.
I don't feed them so I know that's not what keeps them here.

Joy in Michigan


From: Mary Beth Roen [mailto:mbroen"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 9:04 AM
Subject: Re: Season is over?

Hi Joy,

I live in Nnorthwestern Wisconsin. Probably the EABLs don't entirely leave the area every August, but they flock up in areas other than my yard. There are often EABLs on the Christmas bird counts in the general area, but I just don't see them. This is the first year that they have stayed in my yard this late, at the feeder and birdbaths. It is so nice to know that they are around and that many fledlings have survived the most critical time, just out of the nest box.

Mary


From: Robert Barron [mailto:rebarron"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 10:51 PM
Subject: Re: leaving the area

I lived 150 miles north of NYC in Schoharie County and had bluebirds all winter long for all 13 of the years that I lived there. I'd like to see some banding and tracking research to see how far they really go, and if it's just the dispersed young or multiple ages classes.
Rob Barron

From: Cher [mailto:bluelist"at"localnet.com]
Sent: Monday, September 04, 2006 7:16 AM
Subject: Re: leaving the area

I'm in Central NY - Finger Lakes region. Some winters the Bluebirds put in several appearances over the months, usually to drink from my heated birdbath. One winter they stayed and ate mealworms from my feeder nearly every day. I guess it just depends. I'm not sure what it depends on - certainly not severity of the winter, because the winter they stayed was one of the worst in recent memory, and they disappeared for most of last year's mild winter. Perhaps it has more to do with availability of natural food supplies.

Cher


From: Cher [mailto:bluelist"at"localnet.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 8:16 AM
Subject: Re: A brief encounter

Steve wrote: I too was tempted to go out and put some meal worms out but thought, no, don't encourage them to stick around longer than they should."

I don't believe there's any reason to worry about feeding "encouraging" them to stick around longer than they should. I'm not sure about Minnesota, but here in Central NY we can have some pretty fierce winters - lots of Lake Effect snows, both Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, and sub-zero temperatures. For the past few years, I've offered mealworms well into the fall, whenever I see the Blues return. One year they stayed all year, coming to the feeder every day. Other years they made themselves more scarce, coming to the birdbath two or three times during the winter, but never checking out the feeder. I believe they instinctively know what to do and where to go - they don't let us influence their behavior to that extent. If there are lots of natural food sources (winter berries, etc.) available, they may be more apt to stay. They recognize in some way, in that little birdie brain of theirs, that mealworms aren't a complete diet. They won't stick around just because of a handful of mealworms once or twice a day. But if they do stay in your general vicinity, you might or might not ever see them during the winter if you're not offering mealworms. So, go ahead and feed if you want to. There's nothing like the sight of that gorgeous flash of blue against a white winter landscape! Oh, and a heated birdbath doesn't hurt your chances of seeing them, either!

Cher ~ Finger Lakes region, NY State


From: Shari Kastner [mailto:smk "at"teamv.com]
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 12:34 PM
Subject: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Hello group,
 
Yesterday and today I've seen bluebirds in my bluebird box, which has gotten me curious.  In the past, I've read on this list that they are checking out the boxes for use next year and possibly for roosting.  How long has anyone in Wisconsin had bluebirds stay in their area?  Some people have told me that they've had them stay all winter.  I thought they'd be gone by now.  If they stay, will they keep appearing in my box during the daytime hours?  I have not seen them around for the past month.
 
Thanks for your help,
 
Shari Kastner
New Berlin, WI
From: Maynard Sumner [mailto:m-r-sumner "at"juno.com]
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 4:23 PM
Subject: Re: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Shari,

When it get very cold the blues will go to a big woods in the day time but will some times come to the nest box at night if it is very cold, wet and windy night.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI


From: Shari Kastner [mailto:smk "at"teamv.com]
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 5:00 PM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Hi Maynard and all,

If I'm seeing them at this time of the year, does that mean that they will stay all winter? They were in the box for about an hour (that I saw them) during the middle of the day, around 1:00PM. They were feeding in the area and going in and out of the box. Does this type of activity usually occur on their way to migrate? There were 3 that came the last 2 days, 1 of which appeared to be an juvenile.

Shari Kastner
New Berlin, WI


From: Maynard Sumner [mailto:m-r-sumner "at"juno.com]
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 9:00 PM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

It is hard to know what the blues will do. At this time they could be checking for next year. If you see them the last part of November or in December I would say they are going to be with you all year.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd "at"verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Shari,
My guess is that Wisconsin is too cold for them to stay all winter.

But around here they hang around in little family flocks well into November, and finally drift off southward when the weather starts to get too harsh. They don't usually go very *far* south, though.
They often winter over in the southernmost townships in New Hampshire, but not in Sunapee, where it's just too cold. I often saw them in Connecticut in December and January.

Ask your Wisconsin friends if they ever winter over.
I doubt it. I understand that your winters can get pretty severe.

Bruce Burdett, Sunapee, in SW NH


From: Steve Murphy Home [mailto:thcri "at"qwest.net]
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 11:19 PM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Ok all, if Shari's bird's are still around and in the next box, that means her boxes are closed?? I was on the understanding to leave them open during the winter months?? Should I go close mine back up in case they are around yet?? Just the other day I thought I saw one flying but didn't think it could be?

Steve Murphy
Some where close to Shari, just in the next state over.


From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana [mailto:yumyumkatts "at"voyager.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

My Blues are still here also. They normally winter with us. I
winterize my nest boxes so they can use them for roost boxes during the winter.

Pop BB on his nest box yesterday. He can hardly wait for March.

Dottie, Hickory Hollow
Brown County, Indiana


From: happywebl "at"comcast.net [mailto:happywebl "at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 2:29 PM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Western Bluebirds have always over-wintered in my area. I clean out the nestboxes when the nesting season ends, and do any repairs or modifications that are needed. When it starts getting cold, or wet, I stuff the vents just beneath the roof. I usually have birds roost in the boxes, but not always.

I started feeding Bluebird Banquet and chopped raisins last winter because it was abnormally wet and cold, late into spring. Other years I have offered food, but the Blues never ate it, so I assumed there were enough berries around to sustain them.

This fall there were a couple of major changes in my neighborhood, and I haven't seen the Bluebirds as much. For one thing, the California Department of Forestry cleaned out the creek behind my house; they tore out the non-native weeds that were clogging the water flow (good), but they also took out all the blackberry bushes and some of the young oak trees, along with cutting dead snags (bad). Maybe the birds were feeding on the dried out blackberries which are now gone, or maybe there were lots of insects attracted to them....

The other major change is that a new family moved next door to me and they have two dogs and a cat. The dogs were barking a lot, probably because they haven't adjusted to their new home, and the cat was walking my fence and checking out the feeders. The barking has stopped because someone complained (not me) and the neighbors are now keeping the cat in while they are at work, and at night, because the husband spotted a mountain lion not far from here. Still, I see less of the Bluebirds than ever.

I'm still planning on them roosting here, or maybe I'll get another cavity nester using the two boxes in my yard. I'll also offer food, in my new Evergreen feeder, when it gets a little colder. You never know what the birds are going to do!

Barbara in Cloverdale, CA


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper "at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 9:03 AM
Subject: RE: Bluebirds in Wisconsin

Steve, first of all, no matter what you do, if the birds are wired to migrate, nothing can stop them. Some DO NOT migrate, but all the others leave when the time is right for them, so don't worry about that.

Now, I am not sure about whether a mouse can get past a guard or not, but I thought it kept all climbing predators out. I use the stovepipe guard. Maybe someone that has a mouse problem knows if the guard keeps them away. I've never had a problem with it.

Evelyn
Delhi, LA


From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert "at"4state.com]
Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 4:50 PM
Subject: Wisconsin EABL's

Shari and bluebirdsters:

There was a record 288 Eastern Bluebird reported on Christmas Bird Counts last winter in Wisconsin. This according to Thomas Schultz, the State Compiler, in American Birds, Vol. 60, p. 80. There were 41 counts in WI. last year.
The
count period was run from Dec. 14, 2005 through Jan. 5, 2006. So, early winter.
So, mild winters will have some bluebirds around for you to enjoy.

In sw Missouri this morning, 9 till noon, I counted 27 on a conservation area called Osage Prairie. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that some of those were Wisconsin bluebirds!

Good birding, Larry H. Joplin (sw) MO.


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