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By keeping tabs on your bluebirds, you will learn how to be a better landlord.

From the time we are very young, we are taught never to touch a young, or to go near a nest, for fear the parents will abandon it.  On the whole, this dictum has done birds a lot of good.  In truth, a parent birdís instinct to protect its young far out-weighs its fear of people. Opening a nestbox to check its contents can be of great benefit to bluebirds and is a matchless opportunity to learn about their nesting biology.

A bluebird box put up and never monitored is like a letter never sent.  At best, bluebirds may get a brood out of it before a House Wren or House Sparrow takes over and fills it with nesting material, barring any other species.  At worst, it may fledge broods of House Sparrows, which ousts and kill Bluebirds wherever they find them.

Proper mounting is vital to safe box monitoring.  Repeated visits to a box lay a scent trail that invites predators like raccoons to check your boxes for you, with disastrous results.  Predator guards mounted over the nestbox hole, give little or no protection.  But a box mounted on a metal pipe thatís fitted with a predator baffle, can be monitored without fear of such a tragedy.

Itís helpful to know what to expect when you open a box.  Hereís a timetable that tells how long an average bluebird pair spends at each nesting stage:


Nest building:    1-6 days

Egg laying:        5-7 days

Incubation:        Eastern: 12-14 days

                        Mountain: 13-15 days

                        Western: 14 days

Brooding:         6 days (all species)

Fledging:           Eastern: day 16-21

                        Mountain:  day 19-23

                        Western:  day 19-22

Properly mounting your bluebird boxes on metal fitted with 24-inch stovepipe or 30-inch conical metal baffles will prevent depredations by climbing predators.  Situating boxes 100 feet or more from shrugs or trees will make them less attractive to House Wrens.

Article provided by Bird Watcherís Digest


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