Fledge More Bluebirds This Year
Would you like to have more fun on your Bluebird Trail? Fledging more bluebirds than last year can make that happen!
Are we suggesting adding more boxes to your trail? Not necessarily–many bluebirders increase their fledging success by moving unproductive boxes to better locations. Also increased spacing (at least 1000′ between locations) usually improves fledging rates. (1000’=0.2 miles)
Set an easy-to-reach goal of fledging at least 3 bluebirds per location this year. (1 location= 1 single nest box or 1 pair of nest boxes, set 10′-15′ apart) Minnesota Bluebirder of the year for 2011 was Moe Brand from Faribault. She fledged 7.13 bluebirds per location. (164 birds fledged from 23 pair of nest boxes.)
Spring is a good time to pull out your trail records, take note of nest boxes that have not fledged bluebirds in the past two years and move those unproductive boxes to better locations.
When selecting possible nest box sites for bluebirds, look for as many of the following characteristics in a location as you can.
Easy access for weekly checking — along highways, roads, in golf courses or cemeteries. For the bird’s safety, face entrance holes toward a tree, NOT THE ROAD OR HIGHWAYS.
Short or mowed grass — makes it easier for the bluebirds to find insects.
Overhead wires or pasture fencing — provides perching places for birds to see insects on the ground.
300′ from trees ( preferably trees with no brush under them) — helps to slow wren competition/invasion.
High ground — wetland areas have tall grasses and lots of flying insects which are more attractive to tree swallows than bluebirds.
Away from cities, towns, livestock farms, and horse barns — these are the favorite habitats for the house sparrow.
If 4 or 5 of these characteristics can be found at a possible nest box location, it will probably attract adult bluebirds and fledge chicks. Many times, another person’s property will have good nesting potential. Permission is needed and almost always granted if requested. This is a great way to make new friends and increase the number of bluebirds fledged without purchasing property yourself.
Choose a nest box that is waterproof, easy to open, gives a good unobstructed view of the inside when opened, and that you personally like to check, since bluebirds will nest in almost any style of nest box. After all, checking weekly means opening and looking into those boxes 20-25 times each nesting season. Gilbertson PVC nest boxes have shown good house sparrow resistance, which is another point to consider.
The 1/2″ electrical conduit/rebar pole assembly that Steve Gilbertson invented is easy to install, provides the best raccoon deterrent to date, and can be used with any style of box. If you have questions about conduit/rebar pole assemblies, call 507-334-2491. By the way, it only takes 20-25 good locations to fledge 100+bluebirds.
Remember — Open & Check the contents of your nest boxes at least once a week, keep records, send in your reports and have the best bluebird year ever!