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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

Types of Nest Material found in Bluebird Nestboxes (Part 1)


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 00:30:57 EDT
From: RRCRLEP"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: question...

In reply to the question about nesting materials. The mountain blues here, last year, used mostly dried grass. In the first nest, there was a small amount of Easter basket grass.

REL
Hayden, Idaho


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 07:13:34 -0400
From: "Brenda Best" jabbest"at"dreamscape.com
To: "BLUEBIRD-L" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: question...

Paul,

I've never seen pine needles in a bluebird nest before. They've always been grass. And, yes, there are white pines around, but not always within the bluebird's territory.

Brenda

----- Original Message -----

From: "The Carriers" eemmuu"at"att.net
To: "bluebird bluebird" bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2000 4:15 PM
Subject: question...

 Hi all!.

 Well just before I start my yearly monitoring here in Connecticut, ( I
 begin the second week of April), I have a question I am interested in
 knowing the answer too.

 Here in the northeast, the Eastern BB usually builds her nest base of
 coarse grasses with a topping, or cup of finer grasses and almost always
 White pine needles. I say almost always, because occasionally, she will
 omit the needles and use only fine grasses. I have this happening with
 the pair nesting in my yard this year; her nest is just grass!

 I would say, out of every 100 nestings, 5 to 10 will have no pine
 needles, even though pine trees are somewhere nearby.

 Now; does this mean that bird just doesn't want to use them, or is she
 opting to be different from the rest, or rebel against her natural
 instincts? I would like to hear from others in the northeast and ask
 what their BB nests are made of, and also , what do BBs in general use
 for nesting material from all over the country and regions?

 I would really like to know, so please post a short reply to the
 link......Thanks

 ............Paul from CT
 


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 07:55:26 -0400
From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Grass.

To; Paul fr. CT, et al, in response to a Q. about materials, Almost all my Bluebird nests are made of dry grass and nothing else. Last summer I found a nest (at a new site) made of nothing but White Pine needles. It puzzled me until some Listers straightened me out, and they were right, - Bluebirds. I've never found a Bluebird nest made of a mixture of stuff.

I suspect it has to do with what's most readily available. Most of my houses are in grassy meadows, fields, pastures.

Bruce, the Anti-anthropomorph, NH Bluebird Conspiracy, etc. etc.
blueburd"at"srnet.com


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 08:14:08 -0400
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
To: "bb" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: question...

Hi Paul and all, so far three nests entirely made of pine needles (except for the very bottoms which have grasses). Half the trees on our property are white pines. The other trees are deciduous like dogwoods, pears, cherry, oak etc.

Fawzi Emad, Laytonsville, Maryland
In Northern Montgomery County
30 miles North of Washington, DC

...


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 06:21:16 -0700
From: "Joanne H. Powell" jhpowell"at"iea.com
To: "Bluebird List" bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: nesting materials

Good morning, all:

The only nesting material I have seen the Western Bluebirds use here is dried grass. Three WEBL nests started; it's still too early for eggs. Two Tree Sparrows and 3 other WEBL fighting it out for a pair of nestboxes. Usually I have WEBL in box #5 and TRES in #6; the same boxes used each year by the same species...since this is only my third year we'll see what happens this time.

Regards, Joanne
Reardan (Spokane) WA
mailto: jhpowell"at"iea.com


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 08:51:01 -0400
From: "Gary Springer" springer"at"alltel.net
To: "BLUEBIRD-L" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu, eemmuu"at"att.net
Cc: "Gary Springer" springer"at"alltel.net
Subject: Pine Needles/Grass

Hello Paul,

After pondering your question about grass vs. pine needles for Eastern Bluebird nesting materials, I thought of a possible reason.

In my experience, nest building is usually in the morning. Depending on the amount of rain, dew, or moisture rising from under the ground, grass may be drier than pine needles, or the other way around.

I believe that is the reason why grass became the material of choice here the last two days. We've had a lot of rain, finally. All the pine needles are wet, while the tall dead grass is dry from blowing in the breeze.

Do you think this could be an explanation?

Gary Springer,

Writing from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeast Georgia, further north than most of South Carolina and a bit of North Carolina
Member NABS, Bluebird Society of Pennsylvania, and Ohio Bluebird Society
www.realbirdhomes.com

... 


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 11:36:06 -0400
From: Erica McCardell erica64"at"MailAndNews.com
To: bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nesting Material/Paul from CT

Dear Paul and List:

I am also in CT and I have one nest so far this year. It is made entirely of dried grasses even though there are a multitude of pine trees 20-50 feet from the nest.

Sincerely,

Erica McCardell
Durham, CT, between Hartford and New Haven.


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 12:32:19 -0400
From: Dick and Jill Miller MMS"at"TheMillers.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nest materials (was, question...)

Here in MA some EABL use 100% pine needles, sometimes white pine (Pinus strobus) and sometimes larger stiffer pine (species unknown). Other EABL use 100% grass. A very few EABL use a mixture.

If you found some pine on the bottom with grass on the top, it may be that two females worked on this nest. They may have been two separate pairs, or perhaps the first female had something happen to her and the male found a new mate.

--Jill Miller, Natick MA
--
A. Richard & Jill A. Miller | MILLER MICROCOMPUTER SERVICES |
Mailto:MMS"at"TheMillers.com | 61 Lake Shore Road |
Web: http://MMS.TheMillers.com/ | Natick, MA 01760-2099, USA |
Voice: 508/653-6136, 9AM-9PM -0400(EDT)| 42 18'00.79" N, 71 22'27.68" W|


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 12:42:44 -0400
From: "Vivian M. Pitzrick" vivianmp"at"eznet.net
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"CORNELL.EDU
Subject: Re: question...

"My" Eastern Bluebirds use fine dry grasses or pine needles for their nests.

Vivian
__________________________________

Vivian Mills Pitzrick 18806
Amity Lake, Belmont, NY 14813, Allegany County
c. 90 Miles SE of Buffalo; elev. 1640 ft
Lat. 42 dg 13 min; Long. 77 dg 59 min
If you can't be good, force yourself.


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 14:33:15 EDT
From: Edandmj30084"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: question...

Mary Jane
Tucker, GA

My bluebird nests have all been made of pine straw. In fact, last year I watched them go to the same pine tree in my neighbor's yard for straw although there was one closer to the box in my yard. They never took any from a large pile of clean, dry straw on the ground nearby. The titmouse returned to the same patch of moss when gathering it for the foundation of her nest, and she flew the same circuitous route to and from the nest.

Just checked the box, and now there are 5 pretty blue eggs!!

mj


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 15:49:46 -0400
From: Haleya Priest/Thom Levy hpandtl"at"crocker.com
To: BLUEBIRD BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: nesting material

Haleya Priest, Amherst MA

You know, I've been wondering about the use of grass in the nests. I watch Mrs. often bring in much more coarse grasses, but can't get them in the hole - so she finally gives up and drops them if she can't whack them to death to soften them up enough to fit in the hole. I wonder if their nesting material choices (in this case finer grasses) are evolving as coarser material could fit into natural cavities - but can't through the 1 1/2" hole diameter. H


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 15:22:36 -0500
From: "Wright, Merlin C." mcwrigh"at"nppd.com
To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: monitor report

Checked my 40 houses on Sunday the 2nd. 14 completed nests (2 had 4 eggs each) 8 partial and 12 with claim stakes. I am excited.

I used to tell people that bluebirds ALWAYS use just dried grass for nests. One year the road grader exposed zillions of tiny roots and all four nests on that road had nests made entirely of tree roots. Some nests this year have mixed materials (grass and pine needles) although in the past I have seen nests made entirely of pine needles.


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 17:25:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)
To: eemmuu"at"att.net, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: question...

Joe Huber Venice Fl. Hi Paul, In central Ohio I fledged many EABL and never seen pine needles in any for several years. All nests were made of fine grasses for many years before a pine needle nest was seen. They must use what is handy. Joe

Charter member NABS, Charter member OBS, Life member OBS Joe Huber
hubertrap"at"webtv.net

http://community.webtv.net/hubertrap/HOUSESPARROWCONTROL
http://community.webtv.net/hubertrap/RoostingBluebirds


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 17:39:48 -0400
From: Lin Towler aabr"at"wwd.net
To: "BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu." BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Bluebird nests

I have been reading the posts regarding the make-up of the Bluebird nests, and while I understand what you are all saying about the grasses and the pine needles being the main items used......I have a beautiful Bluebird's nest with 6 (so far!) blue eggs, residing inside a 95% dried grass made nest, BUT with wisps of my Black Chow Chow's wooly fur on one side of the top of the nest, and a bright, glossy, red piece of Christmas tinsel woven in around the other side of the top of the nest.

Different strokes for different folks? (Or Female Bluebirds! *smile*)
--
Lin Towler
341 16th Street
Ashland, KY 41101

(606) 928-5533 Home - evenings and weekends
(606) 329-2163 Work - Mon-Fri (leave Message)


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 18:03:23 -0400
From: "Elizabeth Nichols" birdlady"at"netstorm.net
To: mcwrigh"at"nppd.com
Cc: Bluebird-L"at"Cornell.edu
Subject: Re: monitor report

...

Reply from Betty Nichols, Middletown, MD

Hello, Merlin and All:

Occasionally I have Bluebird nests made entirely of pine needles. Here is a question that occurred to me today on the trail:

Have you ever removed a used Eastern Bluebird nest right after babies fledged and found any blowfly larvae? I cannot recall ever finding any these in a pine needle nest. What is your opinion on this?

Thank you---
Betty Nichols


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 18:25:49 EDT
From: MSBOC"at"aol.com
To: blueburd"at"srnet.com, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Grass.

Paul,

Right outside my classroom I had two nests made,but only one used. One nest was made of pine needles and sat right near a grove of pine trees. The one closer to my classroom was only about 50-100' away but was made of the usual grass. That is the nest that ended up with the eggs. I have never seen a pine nest since or before up in this area. However, that's all I see in North Carolina when I go to visit bluebirding friends.

Take care all.

Nancy
Newtown, CT.....

PS....I've had an empty nest for some days now..and have not had the parents come to my whistle the last two evenings. I'm hoping they are just on a brief vacation.


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 18:37:34 EDT
From: Bluebyrder"at"aol.com
To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: monitor report (blowfly larvae in pine needle nests??)

Diane Barbin
Harrisburg, PA

Hi Betty, and other fellow Bluebird enthusiasts:

In response to this question, I can tell you that almost all the Bluebirds that use my nestboxes also make nests made up entirely of pine needles......all but the first nests of the season are heavily infested with blowfly larvae and pupae. I have gotten pretty good at making replacement nests due to this fact. So the hypothesis that pine needle nests prevent blowfly problems does not hold true, at least not here in Harrisburg, PA!

Diane Barbin


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 19:39:24 -0500
From: "Randy W Moore" moorefam"at"bpsinet.com
To: springer"at"alltel.net
Cc: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Pine Needles/Grass

I think you're on to something.

A vast multitude of 30' northern pines surround the nestbox area. Last year (incredibly dry) the nests were made exclusively from pine needles. This spring (incredibly wet) the nests were made exclusively of grass.

We may never know the answer as we ponder one of the many mysteries of God's handiwork. Sometimes it is a pleasure to be perplexed.

Isaiah 53: 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Isaiah 53:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

... 


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 17:47:46 -0700
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
To: "Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu" Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Trashy Nests

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

I need to get some digital pictures of the unusual western bluebird nests on my trail. They are made from a mixture of many, many different natural and manmade materials.

The bulk of the nest is built from straw, shredded bark (usually from palm trees) or pine needles or a mixture of these. Often, the start of the nest ring will be decorated with some glitzy addins such as party ribbons, the gold band to open cigarette packs. Most nests continue to have these little extras layered into the nests, along with scattered feathers, cellophane, waxed paper, bits of yarn. I've seen newspaper ties hanging from the hole and one nest with cassette tape. One nest right now looks like Christmas with the nest cup decorated in very shiny green and glitzy silver party ribbons. My trail is located in parks and greenbelts, there's plenty of trash from which the bluebirds can choose. Since the books say trashy nests are the work of sparrows, my first job as a brand new bluebirder was throwing out a bluebird's nest.

As the nest cup is finished, many are completely lined with waxed paper, cellophane, or feathers. Special finds are added as the nest is finished, such as a hawk's feather, white fluffy cupped-shaped feathers, extra glitzy curly ribbons or a costume plume.

It seems that many females start stuffing in feathers between the sides of the nest and the box, or line the cup with feathers just a few days prior to nest-building. I've asked if others noticed this, but evidently, most nests don't have these finishing touches.

...


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 21:03:24 -0400
From: "asumner" asumner"at"gateway.net
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nest Material

Arlene Sumner: Duluth, Ga. (20 miles No, of Atlanta); asumner"at"gateway.net.

The 2 nests I have in the yard are made of just pine needles. (EABL-Eastern Bluebirds) no eggs yet.


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 18:24:23 -0700
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
To: "Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu" Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Trash Nests (2)

Last sentence I meant to say feathers are stuffed in just prior to egg-laying (not nest-building).


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 20:32:39 -0500
From: "R_C Walshaw" walshaw"at"gte.net
To: "Bluebird Listserve" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: The Carriers - Eastern Bluebird nesting materials

It seems to depend on what materials are available. Here in northeast Oklahoma where we have few pine trees the material of choice is dry grass. (although I have seen a few feathers for the first time in five years this spring).


Date: Wed, 05 Apr 2000 01:10:57 -0400
From: The Carriers eemmuu"at"att.net
To: bluebird bluebird bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Results....

Hello all! ......Paul from CT here.......

Good to hear from so many on this list on your nesting materials used by Bluebirds.

Just a few comments before I show the results below......

First; This very loose survey was not intended to make some kind of official scientific data base, but is intended to try and see what these birds use throughout the regions of our country. I do find this interesting, for I only get to know what our birds use here in CT.

I did get 17 States represented, but I would have liked to hear from all 49 (Hawaii has no BBs). I was surprised to see not one response from our Canadian friends; doesn't this site go to Canada too? -(hope I don't offend anyone with this statement...Ooops)

Also: 6 responses did not give there locations! Sorry, could not use your info here......

From comments given, most feel they seem to use whatever is readily available, and no better example than from Linda in CA. (see below).

Two other opinions, as well as mine also, feel it is influenced more by the weather. When wet, they choose available dry grass, found above the ground, whereas when dry, the choice leans towards pine needles. My experience shows more 1st nests are of grass, while 2nd broods seem to be more pine needles. This makes sense, for in the early spring, it is much wetter than later in the summer.

I will now show results below; I hope you find them interesting as a whole................

NH - Almost all dry grass, 1 white pine needles. No mixtures though.-

MA - some 100% white pine, some 100% dry grass, some larger pine needles-few mix.-

CT - Many rough grass base, with white pine cup, some fine grass cup.occ all pine.
  - 1 all pine, 1 all grass, with pine near-

NY - All pine straw, none of grass-
      - Both dry grass and pine needles-
      - Just grass, no pine, though near-
      - All fine grass, some with hair, not many pine near though-

PA - All pine needles-

MD - All pine needles, except some grass at bottom-

NC - All pine needles-

GA - All pine, or all grass, no mix- ( Q:- Do you have white pine in GA? What pine used?)
      - All pine-
      - Pine straw-

WV - All fine grass-

KY - All fine grass-
- All grass w/ some dog hair-

TN - Equal - all fine grass, or all pine needles-

OH - All fine grasses, rare all pine needles-

OK - All dry grasses exclusively, w/ some feathers-

NE - Grass, course & fine w/ hair-

ID - Dry grass - (Ed - this is the only reply I received from a Mt BB nest!)

WA - Dry grass-

CA - Straw, shredded bark(palm), pine, trash too! How to tell from HOSP?! - Linda?

Well there you have it. The results were sure varied, and I bet even more so if we received more replies from the entire BB areas! I would like to mention, postings were only of what was mentioned. I assume most nests do contain other material as well, such as feathers, hair and other occasional stuff.......

Conclusion: Don't know! I do know, I was pleased to see all the different results. My first reaction is; yes, they do use what's available, but not always. I feel a preference is used by individuals, and some of these samples show that to be true. Now if someone would like to get a grant and study this, some of us would be very interested in the outcome...

Thanks for the replays, and I hope some were as pleased as I to see the results.

.....Paul from CT 


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 13:07:38 -0400
From: The Carriers eemmuu"at"att.net
To: bluebird bluebird bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: questions answered....

Hello Bluebirders!

Boy, the answers on nesting materials is coming in, and I'm finding it very interesting, and I hope you will too...........

Before I do a report and summery on the results, I would like to ask those States and Provence who are not represented yet, too come forward with a quick response, so your area can be represented! Let us know what your BBs use for nesting material...Thanks!

States represented so far:- KY, TN, NE(Nebraska?), ID, NH, NY, MD, GA, WA.

So if your State or Provence is not listed here, Get represented! send to me on my e address if you like - eemmuu"at"worldnet.att.net.....Thanks

Also:-

I will agree with a lister who says" Bluebirding is hard work"! We all know this too be true, and when I am asked "why do you do it?" I really don't know how to respond to the person asking! If they have to ask why someone does something, than they just are the type of person who would not get it anyway (I guess). I do this hard work, because I get satisfaction from doing it, not to impress or have any kind of financial gain! Their are so many people who just do not understand this concept at all! (In my day, we called them "Yuppies!")

A short on HOSP control - If you want to do it, than do it, if not, don't! We all have a freedom to choose what we will do, so use it, and leave the rest, but don't make judgments as to what others do by their choice.

Nature is neither cruel ( cept man and cats) or fair, it just is, and to pick it into pieces of morel rights and wrongs, will only make you frustrated.. As one of my heroes once said........

LET IT BE!.......John Lenon

And lastly......Thanks all for the good comments on my Bluebird pix published in the "Bluebird Journal" . I really appreciate the recognition;Thanks.....Paul from CT


Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 14:40:34 -0700
From: "W.Guglieri" wendyg"at"jps.net
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: nest materials in CA

From Wendy Guglieri in Rescue, Ca. (in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains 40 mi. East of Sacramento)

My latest trail check shows 9 WEstern BLuebird nests in various stages of completion. All nests are made solely of dried grasses and fine dried weeds. I don't remember ever seeing a single WEBL nest in this area made of anything other than this. Once in awhile a "pretty" is woven in (found a completed nest today with a few pieces of blue cellophane Easter grass - seemed very appropriate.) I've occasionally found similar materials in WEBL nests, but they are not prevalent. For the most part, it's just dried grasses. wg


Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 19:16:42 EDT
From: Joagos"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nesting materials

Paul and all, only one nest so far made primarily with grasses, but I did observe MaMa getting a dried Beech leaf and when unable to get it in the nestbox she fles to the ground and stripped it leaving only the vein which she then brought into the nestbox. Being new to this stuff I have a couple of questions: Is it normal for her only to build the nest while he just perches there and every so often fly in to check it out (typically male behavior) (Sorry guys but we gals know what I'm talking about) ? Also since finishing the nest on Sunday I haven't seen feather or song. Kind of cool today hope it warms up. Have a good evening, JoAnn, Guilford,CT


Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 21:58:13 -0400
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Nesting materials

Today while checking my two locations, I noted one nest is made of the veins of leaves just like JoAnn mentions below, plus pine needles mixed! This nest is nearly 3.5 inches high. The other nest, is made of white pine needles, about 4 inches high. The third nest remains incomplete, and I am not sure if it is BB or some other bird. No eggs yet.

Of course, the male just waits outside as she builds the nest, and checks it out and always approves (smart guy). He often will feed her in practice for the time when he has to do this most of his waking hours as she keeps the eggs warm. These birds are lovely, no wonder we love them so much!

Fawzi Emad, Laytonsville, Maryland
In Northern Montgomery County
30 miles North of Washington, DC

...


Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 20:20:26 -0700
From: SAKAI_WALTER SAKAI_WALTER"at"smc.edu
To: "'W.Guglieri '" wendyg"at"jps.net,   "'BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu '"   BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: RE: nest materials in CA

My impression is that bluebirds use whatever appropriate materials are available within what is described by Baicich and Harrison's "A Guide to the Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds." I have sets of boxes in a variety of habitats.

(1) In my alpine site, long needle pines (Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines in the West) are used. Grasses are scarce because of cattle grazing.

(2) At my University of California field station although there are long needle pines, there is no grazing, so grasses are used more commonly

(3) At my urban park site, the lawn is cut, so grasses are also scarce. There are a few exotic pines but mostly eucalyptus trees. My description would be that the nests are more "twiggy" than the other two. There is often a great variety of "urban" or "people" type materials such as confetti, string, colored cellophane, what has been described as "Easter grass" ,etc. Remember Easter falls during nest building season, and many parks sponsor traditional Easter egg hunts. Hence this synthetic grass. AND maybe the scarcity of materials is why there seems to be more feathers used at this site.

Thus, for those who swear that their birds use a particular material above all others, look around and see what is available for the birds to use. Obviously, birds will use grasses if you are in a habitat with with broad leave trees and a good stand of grasses. So when you say your birds use a particular material, describe the habitat and materials available.

This is a good lesson for all of us on how the listserver is beneficial. Each of us adds a piece of information to the puzzle. By compiling and comparing individual observations, we can see the variety of materials the birds use. Don't use a sample size of one.

Walt

Walter H. Sakai Research Associate
Professor of Biology Entomology Section
Santa Monica College Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Co.
1900 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310)434-4702
sakai_walter"at"smc.edu; danausakai"at"aol.com
Master Banding Permit #22030

"The best way to learn something is to teach it."

... 


Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 23:53:19 EDT
From: Sialiaman"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nest Material

Dick Purvis, Anaheim CA

Bluebirds on my trail use whatever is most convenient to make their nests. Most often the nest is of made dried grasses but if pines are near they will make it entirely out of pine needles. It is true that one sometimes finds unusual nests as reported by Linda Violett but I would think that most of her nests are of dry grass. In most nests there will be a couple of bits of plastic or cellophane and a feather or two to finish off the nest. Very often if the nestbox is in a cottonwood tree, the nest will be entirely made of the shredded inner bark of the cottonwood. Sometimes, perhaps when grass is scarce, nests are made of coarser material such as the mulch often placed in our parks and one skimpy nest was of eucalyptus leaves! After Easter, I often find nests entirely made of the green excelsior used in Easter baskets. Nests in Austrailian Ironwood trees are usually made of the Ironwood "needles". We have many exotic introduced trees here so one should expect some unusual results.

Years ago when there were a lot of smokers about, there were a lot of the cellophane pull tabs from cigarette packs in bluebird nests. There are very few smokers around so I don't see many of the tabs now. Although variations from the norm are interesting, I estimate that 80% of my nests are of grass.


Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 10:35:25 -0500
From: "Claire Meyners" cawm"at"worldnet.att.net
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Bluebird nest Survey

Since Missouri hasn't been represented, I'll weigh in....

I run an 80 box trail at Gray Summit, Missouri. The 2500 acre property is owned by the Missouri Botantical Gardens (in the 1920's they thought they would have to vacate St. Louis because of the air pollution killing their plants. St. Louis cleaned up its act, however, so now they are gradually restoring native habitats: prairie, glades, wetlands savannah.) I have nestboxes in very diverse habitats, as the result. In the prairie area the nests are totally grass. There is a the odd planted pine and a small pine plantation area, and boxes near these areas do have pine needles. Only the short-leaf pine is native in the state, and those needles are not popular. Where the white or long pine species have been introduced the bluebirds do use them. (The one nest almost adjacent to the pine plantation is composed almost totally of pine needles.)

My conclusion: bluebirds use whatever is available in the area where they've decided to set up home.

Claire
Wildwood, Missouri


Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 07:39:47 -0500
From: Kathleen Oschwald nestbox"at"1starnet.com
To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nesting Materials

Since I did not see anything regarding nesting materials in Texas, I thought I'd better speak up. All the nests I have monitored have been primarily grass. The very first nest I monitored had a lining of horse mane hair which I had placed under the nestbox. It made a pretty chestnut lining, but I've never had them use any since, just fine grass. Coarse grass has always indicated the start of a sparrow nest.

I wish I had monitored the bluebirds who nested in the martin house on my property in Lufkin (I didn't know I should). I was in the middle of the "Piney Woods" of East Texas, and might have seen nests composed of pine straw.

Kate Oschwald
Sumner, TX
100 mi NE of Dallas


Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 08:21:34 -0500
From: "Bill Darnell" bdarnell"at"centurytel.net
To: nestbox"at"1starnet.com, Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Nesting Materials

Kate and all:

All my BB nests are pure grass except one. This one has several feathers in it! I almost yanked it out, because I thought HOSP as soon as I saw it. The first thought which came to mind was guinea feathers, because it seems HOSP will fly a mile to get one, for luck, I guess! The feathers in this case are mostly solid black background with white spots. Up to at least 3/4" wide, rounded on end. Nope, I will not pull one until the nesting is complete. Then if not id'ed, I will put a picture on the net. Any ideas?

Bill Darnell, Savannah, TN
Lat: 35:18:32.407N
Lon 88:10:31.368W


Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 21:17:28 -0700
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
To: "Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu" Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nest Pictures
Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

Because the nest construction on my So. Calif. suburban trail has such a variety of nest-building materials and finishing touches of feathers, cellophane, etc, I took some pictures last weekend and put them at:

http://home.earthlink.net/~lviolett/NestPics.html.


Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 07:46:57 -0700
From: SAKAI_WALTER SAKAI_WALTER"at"smc.edu
To: "'BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu'" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: re: nesting material

To all -

There was a thread a while back on nesting material. I noted that in my nest box site which is an urban park, there was a paucity of grassy materials that bluebirds normally use for nest and that therfore they use predominantly long needle pines. Well, in this one nest box I check yesterday, there was a predominance of pine needles with some of the usual fake "Easter grass," as well as a wrapper to a soda straw and a label from a bottle of Coor Lite. I am not promoting Coors and I do not think the birds took the label off the bottle. I am waiting for the chicks to fledge, so I can inspect the nest more closely.

The point is do not be surprised at what you find. As I tell my students, the animals do not read the field guides and do not listen to my lectures.

Walt

Walter H. Sakai
Professor of Biology
Santa Monica College Research Associate
1900 Pico Blvd Entomology Section
Santa Monica, CA 90405-1628 Natural History Museum
310-434-4702 - W of Los Angeles Co.
310-434-3624 - FAX
sakai_walter"at"smc.edu; danausakai"at"aol.com
http://homepage.smc.edu/dept/lifesci/sakai_walter

Master Banding Permit No. 22030

"The best way to learn something is to teach it" "Migrate with the Monarchs."


Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 08:26:56 -0700
From: "W.Guglieri" wendyg"at"jps.net
To: tenataylor"at"tycom.net, "BLUEBIRD LIST" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Bird nesting materials

Wendy Guglieri
Rescue, California
-in the Sierra Nevada foothills 40 mi. east of Sacramento-
wendyg"at"jps.net

...

Tina and all:

Early this spring I put out a suet feeder stuffed with various materials from my spinning wheel - flax , wool, cotton, raw silk. I placed it close to the birdbath where birds gather, and where I can see it from a few feet. What I got was mostly Oak Titmouse, 3 types of Warblers, and to my surprise - NORTHERN ORIOLES! I very seldom get to see the Orioles except an occasional flit through the top of the oaks. There appeared to be 2 females who came back every few minutes to gather wool for several days. Once they'd gotten all they wanted (half of the material stuffed in the suet feeder was gone), I never saw them again. But what a treat. Also had a Rufous Hummer go to it several times, and was finally able to see with my binoculars that she was taking out single long strands of raw silk. I believe they use spider webs in the building of their wee nests, but she returned many times, taking just one strand at a time.

Wendy Guglieri


Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 11:32:58 -0400
From: Lynn Ward lWard"at"pmai.org
To: "'BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu'" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nesting Material

As I was browsing the Best of Bluebird-L (by the way Jim, the search engine worked great), I looked through all the responses to the survey taken by Paul from CT on various nesting materials back in April. Of course, grass and pine needles were the predominant materials in the responses, but I have an EABL nest made entirely out of shredded cypress mulch, taken from a landscaped area in our front yard. The female had a choice of all the grass and pine needles she wanted at her disposal, but chose this. I understand that cypress mulch in particular is a deterrent for insects so I'm glad she chose it but wondering why this over grass and/or pine needles. Has anyone had a nest built out of mulch like this?

Lynn from Michigan


Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 12:05:00 -0400
From: "statton" statton"at"toolcity.net
To: "BLUEBIRD-L" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nesting Material

Chris Statton
NW PA
(50 miles south of Erie)

Lynn ... I'm so glad to hear you have a blue gal using mulch, too. The backyard pair here has been using shaggy bark mulch (occasionally mixed with mud covered dead weeds) for a couple of years now. I have tried offering her nice, clean, dry grass - all of which goes totally ignored. She makes some of the ugliest nests I've seen - but does it 4 times each year and almost always with six eggs. Unfortunately, the shaggy mulch does nothing to deter blowflies. Yours and mine must be cousins!


Date: Fri, 09 Jun 2000 21:05:00 -0700
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
To: "Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu" Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Tangled Nestling

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

For those of you who have only straw nests, delete now.

I currently have nests with objects such as a shoelace, kite string, yarn or ribbons. During this week's checks, all of these tangling materials in or about the nestcup will be removed. Others may want to do the same.

In 1998, I almost lost an entire nest of 4 chicks that were tangled together by their ankles in the nesting material. The distressed nestlings in this box gave out a continuous cheep . . . . cheep . . . cheep which I heard at dusk but didn't open the box because the chicks were of fledging age and the male aggressively dive-bombed me. So I came back first thing the next morning and heard that "broken-record" distress cheeping and decided to open the box even though the male was still diving at me (the female apparently deserted the family by this time). Two had already died and the other two were separated and released/fledged.

A couple of days ago, I closed-visited a site due to fledge and the parents and fledglings were in the trees. However, when I took down the box, I could see through the 1/2 plex roof that a nestling was still inside alive and I immediately rehung the box and watched. The parents were still nearby and would occasionally fly to the box. But there was no plaintive cheeping so I didn't interfere. Yesterday all was quiet and deserted; but I found the one full-sized nestling dead in the box. When I tried to lift it for examination, I could see one ankle was hopelessly tangled in stringy yarn from the nestcup material.


Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 22:43:01 -0700
From: "dputman" dputman"at"syix.com
To: "bluebird" Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: bluebirds with damaged feet

Kevin Putman, Yuba City, CA

Linda mentioned the chicks she found entangled in nesting material. Last year, I found chicks tangled up in nylon tree rope strands that the bluebirds had used in nest construction. The other day, I was using binoculars to inspect a pair of bluebirds for leg bands. I found that the male was missing a left leg. I then glassed over to the hen; her right leg was damaged such that it just hung useless (a couple of years ago, I saw a male bluebird with this exact leg problem). I've glassed hundreds of nesting pairs and had only seen a couple cases of leg damage before, now I find a pair where BOTH parents have damaged legs. Too big of a coincidence, I'd say. Does one crippled bird choose another for a mate? I doubt it. More likely, there was some hazard that these two birds were exposed to together, and both were victimized by it. It might have been a previous nest with hazardous twine. Or it may have been the split-front problem that Keith posted about a while back. Keith mentioned how the front of a nestbox will sometimes split down the
middle, creating a crack at the base of the entrance hole. A bluebird then gets its leg caught in the crack during entering / exiting. I don't know how a bird would survive such an experience without human help, though.

Incidentally, of the five eggs in the nest of the leg-damaged pair only one was fertile. They may have had some problems with copulation.


Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 12:10:52 -0500
From: "Shelly and Kim Harris"
To: "Bluebird List"
Subject: Nest with Feathers!!

Dear Bluebirders,

I know that occasionally bluebirds have a few feathers in their nests, but I'm stumped. Being new to this is a little nervewracking. My BB babies that hatched in our front nest box on 6-15-00 (9 days old) are flourishing! The three babies are growing and right on schedule. Mom BB stays busy feeding.

The confusing part is this: there is nest building happening in the back nestbox! Throughout the day and early evening I see two male BB and one female circling the area and sitting in, or near this nestbox. There is nesting materials being placed (don't know by who....) in the box...mostly dried grass sprigs, but several feathers, and one whole, white, duck feather. (We have ducks on our front pond, which is about 75 feet from the nest box.) Do bluebirds use this many feathers? We don't have tree swallows in central OK, and I haven't seen any sparrows. I have watched the box intermittently....I have seen bluebirds busy on and around it, but haven't actually seen them enter. This nest has been in progress for 3 days.....it's progressing rather slowly. However, yesterday sometime, the large duck
feather was added (approx 7 inches in length). The ducks (domestic) are doing a little molting just now.

What do you, more experienced blue birders think? I plan on watching as much as possible today with binnoculars....to see who is doing the building, but getting consistent time to watch isn't that easy!

Thanks to all of you!
Birdly,
Shelly in Norman, OK (central OK)



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 12:12:54 -0500
From: "Shelly and Kim Harris"
To: "Bluebird List"
Subject: Feathers?
Message-ID: 001e01bfddff$700d9300$6400a8c0"at"comp1

In my previous post, I meatn to say that I have seen BB's sitting ON the nextbox, not in it!

Sorry!
Birdly,
Shelly in Norman, OK



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 14:21:25 -0400
From: "Bruce Burdett"
To: , "Bluebird List"
Subject: Re: Nest with Feathers!!
Message-ID: 001201bfde09$0673fd80$2e4494ce"at"oemcomputer

Shelly, et al,

Speaking New Hampshire-wise, feathers in a nest-box usually mean Tree Swallows. Do you have Violet-greens out there? Do they do that? I gather that they play a similar role to Tree Swallows in other parts of the continent. We don't have them here.

Bruce Burdett NH
...



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 14:25:29 -0400
From: "Bruce Burdett"
To: , "Bluebird List"
Subject: Re: Feathers?
Message-ID: 002301bfde09$969851e0$2e4494ce"at"oemcomputer

Shelly, et al,
Bluebirds routinely perch on other birds' nestboxes, and even peer into them now and then. They just seem curious, but in MY experience they don't harass the other birds. seriously.

...



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 14:46:07 -0400
From: "Bruce Burdett"
To: , "Bluebird List"
Subject: Re: Nest with Feathers!!

Shelly, et al,

No. I've NEVER seen feathers in a Bluebird nest, - not in 11 years, anyway. Nothing but dried grass and/or dried white pine needles.(pine-straw)
Bruce Burdett, NH

...



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 14:19:15 -0500
From: "Shelly and Kim Harris"
To: "Bluebird List"
Subject: Feather in nest!!!

Dear Birders,

THer answer to the mystery....Mr. House Sparrow was seen building in the nest box today, and "doing his thing"......which has prompted my husband to "do his thing" and remedy the problem! I'm feeling guilty, but very protective of our bluebird population and our nestlings in our front nest box!

Thanks for the help!
Birdly,
Shelly in Norman, OK



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 19:07:37 -0700
From: "rnelson"
To: , ,
"Bluebird List"
Subject: Re: Nest with Feathers!!

Violet Greens do use feathers. My box with the Violet Greens in it has a comfy looking nest lined in all feathers. It seems like it would be like sleeping on satin sheets!

Beth, OR
...



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 22:05:34 -0600
From: Haleya Priest
To: eaglflyt"at"telepath.com
Cc: Bluebird List
Subject: Re: Feather in nest!!!

Dear Shelly, whomever figured out it was a House Sparrow (HOSP) is brilliant. Let me say you did the right thing. And I will tell you why. Today I found a tree swallow (TRES) nest with six very dead babies. One was on the ground. All had been pecked to death. By guess who? You got it. Mr HOSP who was sitting on top of the box singing away very proudly. These babies were within a couple days of fledging. Tomorrow morning bright and early, I go do MY THING. :-(

...



Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 21:23:35 -0500
From: "R_C Walshaw"
To: "Bluebird Listserve"
Subject: Bruce - bluebrd nests with eathers

I had not seen this until this year. As I posted earlier there are Rhode Island Red feathers near a number of my boxes as some predator got into my neighbor's hens, and they were used in several bluebird nests. I also have two Eastern Bluebird nests that contain Blue Jay feathers. Bluebird Bob, Eastern Oklahoma.



Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 20:00:32 -0600
From: Jill Morrow
To: blueburd"at"srnet.com
Cc: eaglflyt"at"telepath.com, Bluebird List
Subject: Re: Nest with Feathers!!

Dear Bluebirders,

We deal exclusively with mountain bluebirds here in central Wyoming. Many of the bluebird nests in our boxes have feathers added into them, usually as a liner. We have seen feathers from flickers, golden eagle, sage grouse (and many other species) and, where chickens are nearby, we've see chicken feathers lining the nests. In one location a mountain bluebird incorporated red strands of nylon baling twine to line the nest.

In another vein - diatomaceous earth sounds like an ideal solution to mites. However, we live in an area where they don't sell it. Does anyone know of a company where we can purchase DE online or from a catalog? Thanks for any leads.

Lance & Jill Morrow
banded nearly 400 mountain bluebirds this year so far and we have that many more to finish the season. We have had a very high rate of success banding both adults.
Central Wyoming, Jeffrey City

...


Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 18:04:47 -0400
From: "Morrison" woodcat"at"rma.edu
To: "bluebird" Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: spider web

OK who uses spider webs in their nests? I don't mean little strands like Hummers, but "chunks" of it. And no there are no spiders in there...


Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 18:03:41 -0500
From: "Keith & Sandy Kridler" kridler"at"1starnet.com
To: "BLUEBIRD-L" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: RE: spider webs

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas 80*F today
Tufted titmice use spider webs in their nests sometimes, great big gobs of old cob webs from barns or under houses will be placed in a nest. KK


Date: Fri, 06 Apr 2001 07:19:33 EDT
From: "Rwatts" rwatts"at"mymailstation.com
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re:spider web

spider webs in their nests? I don't mean little strands like Hummers, but "chunks" of it. And no there are no spiders in there...

House wrens seem to daub wads of spider web in their nests.

Rhonda Watts
Wilton, N.H.


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 07:41:48 -0400
From: "Brenda Best" jabbest"at"americu.net
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re:spider web

Rhonda,

I believe I've read that the "webby" stuff found in House Wren nests is spider egg cases.

Brenda

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rwatts" rwatts"at"mymailstation.com
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 7:19 AM
Subject: Re:spider web

 spider webs in their nests? I don't mean little strands like Hummers, but "chunks" of it. And no there are no spiders in there...

 House wrens seem to daub wads of spider web in their nests.

 Rhonda Watts
 Wilton, N.H.


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 07:18:20 -0700
From: "judymellin" judymellin"at"netzero.net
To: jabbest"at"americu.net, bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re:spider web

There is a great resource book Peterson's Field Guide to Birds Nests that may answer many of your questions about who does what in his/her nest. There are photographs of nests with eggs and then detailed descriptions of the nest makeup. I use this a lot when in the field.

Judy Mellin
NE IL.
----- Original Message -----
From: Brenda Best jabbest"at"americu.net
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 4:41 AM
Subject: Re:spider web

...


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 10:20:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)
To: nestbox"at"1starnet.com, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Eastern Bluebirds with feathers in nest!

Hello Kate, No, you are not going nuts when you see Bluebirds carry feathers into make their nest. While this may not be the normal nest material feathers are often used in part of the nest building. since in your case there is an abundance of feathers they are being used. The House Sparrow isn't;t the only bird that uses feathers in nest building but you can definitely tell their nest when you see it. Joe Huber Venice Fl.

Charter member NABS, Charter member OBS, Life member OBS Joe Huber
hubertrap"at"webtv.net

http://community.webtv.net/hubertrap/HOUSESPARROWCONTROL

http://community.webtv.net/hubertrap/RoostingBluebirds


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 09:27:53 -0500
From: "K.W. and Shelly Harris" eaglflyt"at"telepath.com
To: "Bluebird-L List" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: We SAW the Female EABL add feathers!!!!

OK, this morning, my husband and I have actually witnessed the female EABL pick up and carry a white feather (from our ducks...they've been molting),
and put it in her box!!!! She seems very interested in the feathers! I've got to go and see if I can get a picture of this!!!! :) We feel very lucky to have seen the whole process!!!!

Shelly in Norman, OK Having a Great EABL Day!!!!

Shelly Harris
Eagle Flight Morgan Horse Farm
e-mail: eaglflyt"at"telepath.com
website: www.eagle-flight.com


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 06:58:08 -0400
From: Bill & Dot Forrester wforres1"at"twcny.rr.com
To: bluebird-l bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

Hi Fawzi and all,

The term pine straw is used here all the time, but I'm not sure what it means either. In my yard in upstate NY, bluebirds use long whippy bare evergreen pieces for their nests, so I just assumed that's what pine straws are. When I rake around evergreens, there are always many old dead inner pieces of branch ends littering the ground. These pieces are about 4"-8" in length and are fairly thick, tapering in towards the tip. They are very flexible (pliable) and don't have any needles except for a few barely visible brown nubs. I have watched the female bluebird pick up such pieces from two different kinds of pine trees (don't know what kind), from blue spruce, and from my neighbor's row of evergreens which I think are firs. I've never found any pieces with green needles in the nest.

Dot

"Fawzi P. Emad" wrote:

 The phrase "pine straw" has been used a few times recently. I am not
 familiar with it. Is this phrase the same in meaning as "pine needles"
 which is what all my (backyard) EABL use for nests? The pine needles they
 find are from white pines surrounding our property.

 Fawzi from MD


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 07:08:43 EDT
From: SHbirder"at"aol.com
To: wforres1"at"twcny.rr.com, bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

Sherry Hunter, Byron Center, MI

The pine straw that the bluebirds use around here in west Michigan is not from pine trees or evergreens. It definitely looks like pine *straw*. It is dryed weed stalks of a cream color. Kinda reminds me of shredded corn stalk husks, only very flexible and softer texture. Or like dryed out decorative grasses alot of us plant in our yards. To bring up the *claim straw* thing again, if you look at Linda Violets claim straw photos that is what my bluebird nests use (minus any decorative ribbons, etc.)

Note: My bluebird pair have had their nest finished now for about a week and come by many times a day to sit in my trees and on their nestbox. So any day
now she should be laying her first egg!


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 09:04:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)
To: femad"at"comcast.net
Cc: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

Hello, yes pine needles are what people refer to as pine straw. In some areas Bluebirds use pine needles for nests and also dry grass. Most of my nests in Ohio were made of fine grass since pine needles were mot near the nest boxes. Joe Huber Venice Fl.

Charter member NABS, Charter member OBS, Life member OBS Joe Huber
hubertrap"at"webtv.net

http://community.webtv.net/hubertrap/HOUSESPARROWCONTROL

http://community.webtv.net/hubertrap/RoostingBluebirds


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 09:52:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: Barry Whitney barryw"at"therock.mcg.edu
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

On Sat, 14 Apr 2001, Joe Huber wrote:

 Hello, yes pine needles are what people refer to as pine straw.

Same here.

If you pick them up between your fingers, they are called pine needles.

If you buy a bale at a time, it is called pine straw.

SC


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 10:12:44 -0400
From: Bill & Dot Forrester wforres1"at"twcny.rr.com
To: bluebird-l bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: white feathers for tree swallows

Lake Ontario snowbelt north of Syracuse NY

Tree swallows (TRES) arrived earlier this week and are exploring boxes. I wanted to remind people that now is a good time in the north to be gathering white feathers for them. If you float feathers on a light breeze within sight of the box (but not too close), you will get to witness close up the marvelous acrobatics of these birds as they pick the feathers out of the air. Often one will catch and then release a feather for its mate, like a game of catch. This only works as the nest is being built. Tiny soft feathers are stuffed into the nest cup, and larger ones are usually inserted straight up near the top, so the completed nest sometimes looks a bit like a Native American head-dress. I use seagull feathers, no bigger than 4", but have also used pale-colored chicken feathers when available. Gull feathers are usually abundant along the lake shore or in parking lots and school athletic fields where these birds congregate. Feather chasing is really fun to watch, especially for children.

Dot


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 11:20:24 EDT
From: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

Fawzi Emad asks about "pine straw" in his 01-04-13 21:59:11 EDT post.

Good interrogative, Fawzi.... been wondering about this, too. Here, "pine straw" is long leaf needles from what people call "yellow pine." This terminology may not be absolutely correct. Sorry, I don't have the Latin name at my fingertips. These trees are about sixty to seventy (60 - 70) feet tall. Sparse but heavy branches start at a little less than two-thirds up the trunk. Some of the uses for these trees are for making paper, utility poles, turpetine and for building grade lumber. The plant contains a tremendous amount of very sticky sap most of the time. Opened pine cones are roughly eight (8) inches long and five (5) inches in diameter - nice for decorations, but nowhere near the huge pine cones seen in the national parks in California. The pine needles have some commercial value as clean quantities are routinely gathered from the ground and sold for mulch. The needles, as they fall from the tree naturally, come, I believe, three (3) to a sheath. The length of fallen mature needles depends on moisture/temperature conditions - long ones little more than thirteen (13) inches, short ones typically seven (7) inches. Sometimes during nest building a lady bluebird will stream sheathed needles behind her as she flies to the nestbox. After she enters, the box "eats" the needles as she reels them in. The effect is somewhat like a child eating spaghetti. I once watched a beautiful nest built in one day with these needles.

Tom in NW Florida

PS - These needles fall from the trees nearly year round. It takes very little time - sometimes just a couple of days - for the needles to completely cover over a lawn. We removed the needle makers in our yard about the time our last raker left home.


Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 16:04:57 -0400
From: "Kevin Bloom" kjbloom20"at"hotmail.com
To: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
Cc: Bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

Tom,
Not sure of this but I think the tree you are talking about is called the Longleaf Pine, also known as Southern Yellow Pine. Therefore if I am correct the latin name is "Pinus palustris". This tree is right in your area seeing that you are in Northwest Florida and the info you gave seems to add up to the characteristics of the Longleaf.

K.Bloom

From: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
Reply-To: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 11:20:24 EDT

Fawzi Emad asks about "pine straw" in his 01-04-13 21:59:11 EDT post.
 

...

Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 20:28:24 EDT
From: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Fwd: pine straw / pine needles

Kevin,

Thanks for the info on Southern Yellow Pine. You are absolutely correct, that is what it is called down this way. Over the years there has been a lot of experimentation trying to find, among other things, fast growing pine. There is really a chance that our Southern Yellow Pine is something else. I've heard that in this area there is no virgin timber as most everything has been cut and replanted several times over. Once, when I was in the tree stump removal business I removed one of these stumps that was nearly five feet in diameter where it had been cut by a saw. It was a monster, having gotten plenty of moisture where the water table was high. The usual big tree down this way is less than 36 inches in diameter. Thanks again for the info.

Tom in NW Florida


Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 10:31:22 -0400
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
To: "bbllll" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

I wish to thank you all for the wonderful way you responded to my question. Now I know that (almost) the same substance is called in two ways, pine needles for some and pine straw for others. The difference is mostly in the size of the needles/straw and the kind of pine (which depends on the area one lives in.)

Happy Easter to all,

Fawzi


Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 10:55:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kathy Rauschenberg kathy_scottud90"at"yahoo.com
To: femad"at"comcast.net, bbllll BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: pine straw / pine needles

Fawzi... I believe pine straw and pine needles are different. I live in Atlanta, and we use pine straw to fill our tree beds for landscaping. It is brown, sometimes red, "straw", that is purchased in bales (similar to hay). My bluebirds used primarily all pine straw for building their nest.I believe it is more prevalent in the south, but I think you can get it anywhere.

Kathy
Alpharetta, GA

--- "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com wrote:
 The phrase "pine straw" has been used a few times
 recently. I am not
 familiar with it. Is this phrase the same in
 meaning as "pine needles"
 which is what all my (backyard) EABL use for nests?
 The pine needles they
 find are from white pines surrounding our property.

 Fawzi from MD


Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 09:09:12 -0400 
From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.co
To: stormyspal"at"hotmail.co
Cc: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu Subject: Needle(pine)

To: Nancy, et al, 

About 25% of my Bluebird nests are made of pine needles. The rest are made of dry grasses. I gather from what Listers say that Bluebirds often use pine needles. It probably depends on what's most handy in the neighborhood. 

Bruce Burdett, 
NH Bluebird Conspiracy, Sunapee NH

blueburd"at"srnet.com


Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 11:33:52 -0700
From: "judymellin" judymellin"at"netzero.net
To: blueburd"at"srnet.com, stormyspal"at"hotmail.com
Cc: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Needle(pine)

As usual, I have to agree with Bruce.  Our boxes are all on a trail through a 150 acre grassland and that is the ONLY material used by Eastern Bluebirds on our site.  Tree Swallows also use grasses- much coarser ones than the blues and liberally lined with feathers- while the House Wrens who come into the boxes later in the season use only twigs.  Leave it to the birds to teach us about using natural resources!

Judy Mellin
NE IL.
----- Original Message -----
From: Bruce Burdett blueburd"at"srnet.com
To: stormyspal"at"hotmail.com
Cc: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 6:09 AM
Subject: Needle(pine)

 To: Nancy, et al,
      About 25% of my Bluebird nests are made of pine needles. The rest are
 made of dry grasses. I gather from what Listers say that Bluebirds often use
 pine needles. It probably depends on what's most handy in the neighborhood.
 Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy, Sunapee NH
 blueburd"at"srnet.com


Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 13:21:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kerry Sweet ksweet3450"at"yahoo.com
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: No  Needle(pine) here.

Hi all,

This topic is so interesting because after a long week of evicting the HOSP from my area, I now have two Eastern Bluebird nests.

One of which is made of only fine dry grasses like a factory product woven from one material. This nest is in my yard and I think the same bluebirds from the past two years that produce white eggs.

The other nest is very neatly made of different types of grass mostly an even finer dark grass with some horse tail woven into it with a small yet deep cup
with 4 blue eggs in it, This nest is in the pasture with the live stock.

I also have a Chickadee nest for the first time ever and it just blew my mind...WOW... I don't know what all it has in it... mosses,foam rubber,this black stuff? and a whole rabbit I think. The only way I knew it was a chickadee was because I sit and watched until the bird came and went inside and Ta-da it was a Carolina Chickadee...woohoo! I'm so excited.  

It's going to be good year I hope.
Kerry in NE corner of Okla.

--- Bruce Burdett blueburd"at"srnet.com wrote:
 To: Nancy, et al,

...


Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 22:41:55 -0700
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
To: "bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu" bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Bird Treasures

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

Occasionally, I get lucky and see an interesting collection of western bluebird treasures gathered on the nestbox floor before the nest is built on top of them . . . and thank goodness for digital cameras.

I've just uploaded a photo taken within the last week showing straw, yarn and a thin braid on the nestbox floor. The female was in the box upon my approach (I assume she was organizing everything to her taste).

Scroll down to the last photos at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~lviolett/newbegin.html


Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 22:38:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jim Elliot jee12958"at"yahoo.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Pine Needles Revisited

Hi everyone,

The pine needle thread went on for quite some time but the discussion was mostly identification and clarification. The question that never came up and that has been nagging at me is WHY.

In everything I've read the only thing mentioned is the fact that most eastern bluebird nests are made of grasses and a few are made from pine needles. What I'd like to know is what are the deciding factors. Is it abundance of material, experience or lack of? What's the success rate for grass or pine needle nests?

If anyone has any information about this please pass it on. Or, if you're as curious as I am, keep track of it this season. Let me know what you see; the number of grass nests compared to the number of pine needle nests. How many of each were lost to weather(heat, cold, rain, snow) when it can be determined.

I don't have the credentials to call it scientific research, but I'd like to see what we can find out.

Let me know what you think,
Jim Elliot
East Prospect, PA


Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 07:41:12 EDT
From: Phl806"at"cs.com
To: jee12958"at"yahoo.com, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Pine Needles Revisited

In a Message dated 4/19/01 12:40:40 AM Central Daylight Time,  jee12958"at"yahoo.com writes:

 Is it abundance of material,
 experience or lack of? What's the success rate
 for grass or pine needle nests?

here in nw florida the long leaf pine is the basic tree. the only other one we hae in abundance is the live oak, unsuitable for nesting purposes. it's sort of "making the best of what we have."

Phil Berry
Gulf Breeze, Florida


Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 07:21:01 -0700
From: "judymellin" judymellin"at"netzero.net
To: jee12958"at"yahoo.com, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Pine Needles Revisited

I can only speak for my site (at the risk of being chastised for posting something that has already been addressed) but I would think in most locations the nest materials will be only one or the other, not some grass nests in one box and some pine needle nests in others on the same trail.

We have no pines near my trail so our nests are always fine grasses neatly woven into a cup. In backyard locations, I would guess that pine needles would be more common and there may be areas where both types of nests occur but I would think that the choice of nest material is a matter of expediency- use what's readily available and get on with the process of raising those critters that we so enjoy seeing!

Judy Mellin
NE IL.

----- Original Message -----

From: Jim Elliot jee12958"at"yahoo.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 10:38 PM
Subject: Pine Needles Revisited

 Hi everyone,

 The pine needle thread went on for quite some
 time but the discussion was mostly identification
 and clarification. The question that never came
 up and that has been nagging at me is WHY.

 In everything I've read the only thing mentioned
 is the fact that most eastern bluebird nests are
 made of grasses and a few are made from pine
 needles. What I'd like to know is what are the
 deciding factors. Is it abundance of material,
 experience or lack of? What's the success rate
 for grass or pine needle nests?

 If anyone has any information about this please
 pass it on. Or, if you're as curious as I am,
 keep track of it this season. Let me know what
 you see; the number of grass nests compared to
 the number of pine needle nests. How many of each
 were lost to weather(heat, cold, rain, snow) when
 it can be determined.

 I don't have the credentials to call it
 scientific research, but I'd like to see what we
 can find out.

 Let me know what you think,
 Jim Elliot
 East Prospect, PA


Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 09:15:31 EDT
From: TomGaryH"at"aol.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Pine Needles Revisited

Tom in NW Florida, cool weather, frost on the ground yesterday morning   Here's a shortened version of an nest building observation: My yard gets an abundant supply of long-leaf pine needles from surrounding trees. For two seasons a female built nests of pine needles in 4 1/2 inch square-bottomed boxes. Somewhere during the second season, impressed with the amount energy that a female expends on rearing babies and nest building, I reasoned that the use of a Peterson box would reduce substantially the nest building labor because of the Peterson's funnel-like design . So, a Peterson, built to original specification, was available for the start of the third season.

Rather than using readily available pine needles, grass was used - not loose grasss, but grass tugged out of the turf, most of which came from at least 300 hundred feet from the Peterson box. I believe this female had to have expended much more energy using grass for the smaller volumed Peterson than the female that used pine needles in the larger volumed square-bottomed boxes. Upon completion of a three-day fledging from the Peterson box I removed the Peterson; the female, for her second brood, used a larger 4 3/4 inch square-bottomed box to build her nest with grasses she tugged from the turf. This year a wide-bodied (2X6 vs 2X4 frame) Peterson has a nest built of mostly pine needles - grasses were initially used for beginning the nest at the narrow part of the box, but a switch to pine needles was quickly made.

Perhaps a female from an early brood tries to use material that she saw her mother using for a later brood. Perhaps the female is able to shift to material that works best for her. I suspect the birds are no different than people - some think, some think less, some get things done, they do what they have to do. tgh


Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 02:45:01 -0500
From: "Bruce Johnson" bjohnso3"at"midsouth.rr.com
To: jee12958"at"yahoo.com, BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Pine Needles Revisited

Snip

The pine needle thread went on for quite some time but the discussion was mostly identification and clarification. The question that never came up and that has been nagging at me is WHY.

Snip

Jim -

This year the bluebirds were using much heavier stuff for building material instead of the usual pine straw. I gathered up a bundle of pine straw and they promptly finished their nest with this material.

I have read that nests constructed from this material have less problems with parasites and think there may be some truth to it. To me it's worth the effort.

Best regards,

Bruce Johnson ~ Life Mbr. NABS
2795 Long Oak Drive
Germantown (extreme southwestern) TN
901-755-6842


Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 12:02:13 -0400
From: "Larry Zapotocky" larryz22"at"hotmail.com
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nest I.D. Help ...

I have a nest made of moss and leaves in the paper slot of my mail post. I know it is not a HOSP because I am very familiar with those nests. Is this the nest of a chicadee, titmouse or some other cavity nesting bird?

Thanks,
Larry


Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 11:30:17 -0500
From: Alicia Craig craiga"at"wbu.com
To: "'larryz22"at"hotmail.com'" larryz22"at"hotmail.com, bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: RE: Nest I.D. Help ...

Sounds like a chickadee nest, the moss is a clue.

Alicia Craig
Senior Manager, Nature Education
Wild Birds Unlimited, Inc.
11711 N. College Ave. #146
Carmel, IN 46032
317.571.7100
mailto:craiga"at"wbu.com mailto:craiga"at"wbu.com
http://www.wbu.com http://www.wbu.com/

Be a Citizen Scientist, visit http://birds.cornell.edu/citsci/
http://birds.cornell.edu/citsci/

Watch BirdWatch on PBS, visit http://www http://www/ .pbs.org/birdwatch

-----Original Message-----
From: Larry Zapotocky [mailto:larryz22"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 11:02 AM
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Nest I.D. Help ...

I have a nest made of moss and leaves in the paper slot of my mail post. I know it is not a HOSP because I am very familiar with those nests. Is this the nest of a chicadee, titmouse or some other cavity nesting bird?

Thanks,
Larry


Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 11:46:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jim Elliot jee12958"at"yahoo.com
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: 4-17-01 East Prospect, Pa

Hi all,

I checked the boxes in the yard (East Prospect) and at the park (Samuel S Lewis State Park) before the forcasted snow. These reports are part of the journal I'm keeping to suppliment the data sheets I keep for the park.

I removed two HOSP nests from the five boxes in the yard. One nest contained one egg. Two of the boxes are empty and the fifth one contained a CACH (Carolina Chickadee) nest with just the beginning of the fur lining. The two hanging gourds, which were used by HOWR (house wrens) last year, are still unoccupied.

At the park things are coming along pretty well. Of the twenty three boxes only one contained a HOSP nest. Three boxes had CACH nests, one complete without eggs and two with just the moss base. There is one almost complete TRSW (tree swallow) nest in one of the two Peterson's style nestboxes. Three boxes are occupied by EABL nests which look to be complete except no eggs. So far the HOWR have not returned to their preferred areas from last year. It was beginning of May last year before things really took off.

By the way, with all the discussion on EABL nest materials, I thought I'd pass this along. All three nests were constructed using different materials. The one nest is exclusively pine needles, the second is all fine grasses, and the third one has more course grasses and fine twigs and rootlets. Although the materials don't seem to fit with EABL the fine construction does. Right or wrong I'll keep you posted.

From East Prospect, PA
Jim Elliot


Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 19:35:46 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jordan Brooks jb323"at"usa.com
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: RE: Pine Needles Revisited

Jim Elliot jee12958"at"yahoo.com wrote:

In everything I've read the only thing mentioned
is the fact that most eastern bluebird nests are
made of grasses and a few are made from pine
needles. What I'd like to know is what are the
deciding factors. Is it abundance of material,
experience or lack of? What's the success rate
for grass or pine needle nests?

My guess is that it's abundance of material. There's a *LOT* of pine trees in this area (we just got through a couple of weeks of some really nasty pollen because of it) and from what the owners of the two local wild bird stores tell me, pine needle nests are common. In fact, they both advise people buying
bluebird houses to make sure they have pine straw in their yards. Pine straw also seems to be the most commonly used mulch 'round these parts, too, btw.

So when I pulled into my driveway one day and saw a pair of bluebirds checking out the house I'd moved up front from the backyard, I didn't even get out of the car. Went right to Home Depot and bought a bale of pine straw and another bird bath. I mulched the base of the maple trees with the straw and sat
back to watch.

Here's the interesting part and I apologize in advance for being indelicate. There's a patch of dead grass a couple feet away from my front porch, thanks to my son's golden retriever who suffers from advanced arthritis and usually can't make it around back to relieve herself. We watched in amazement as the the female bluebird made numerous grass-pulling forays to that area over the next couple days, not even flinching when we were all standing less than five feet away, awestruck and with our noses pressed to the door. The male bluebird even pulled some grass once and carried it over to the nestbox.

Another day I looked over at the birdhouse and noticed a few pine needles and several strands of my hair hanging out of the entry hole. That apparently came from the suet cage we'd filled with nesting materials and hung from one of the trees.

But what's really odd is what the nest looked like when she was done - it looks mostly like pine straw to me. Perhaps she got tired of pulling grass and finished with the pine straw? I've got a photo that I'll put up once I get a working scanner.

BTW, we used one of those nest cups, if that makes any difference. My first two bluebird houses were taken by Carolina chickadees and I bought a nest cup hoping it would dissuade them from squatting in the third one.

--

Jordan
central North Carolina
*Please do not cc me on posts made to Bluebird-L; one copy
in this sl-o-o-w loading mailbox is enough. Thanks.*


Types of Nest Material found in Bluebird Nestboxes (Part 2)


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http://www.cit.corn.edu/cit-pubs/email/using-lists/index.htm. If you wish to contact the author of a post, you will need to edit the e-mail address, replacing "at" with the "at" symbol (above the number 2 on your keyboard). (This change was made to discourage spammers.)
If you are the author of a posting and would like to see a particular post (or posts) removed from these web pages, please contact me with the page AND date of the post(s), and I will remove whatever material you like.  If you have a different opinion from one posted here, you need not contact me, as often I will have a different opinion too. The intent is to try and provide both sides to the issues facing bluebirders, and to do so in an impartial and objective manner.
If you have problems, encounter broken links (unless they are within an e-mail thread, as I do not maintain those links), or have suggestions on how the site can be improved to make it more useful, please contact the Best of Bluebird-L Classifieds webmaster
Website design by Chimalis