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Article: A House for the Heavenly Bluebird Nestbox Basics: BLUEBIRDS

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Forum: Article: A House for the Heavenly Bluebird Nestbox BasicsReplies: 23, Views: 152
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docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

May 19, 2008
2:08 PM

Post #4973259

This article is well written and easy as pie to understand. The boxes are real good examples to follow.
2dCousinDave
Stafford County, VA

May 19, 2008
6:16 PM

Post #4974385

Good work, Marna. Thank you for writing it.

Dave
Sharran
Calvert City, KY
(Zone 7a)

May 19, 2008
11:44 PM

Post #4975604

I love bluebirds and have a nesting pair right now. Lovely to watch.
Thank you, Marna.
SapphiresMom
Elm Mott, TX

May 20, 2008
12:32 AM

Post #4975835

I live in central Texas, near Waco. Do we get bluebirds here?
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

May 20, 2008
12:50 AM

Post #4975918

Waco...according to the Peterson Field Guide gets the Mountain Bluebird and you may have the Eastern Bluebird. They are both Thrushes. Check your yellow pages for Audabon to confirm.

dreaves

dreaves
Hutto, TX
(Zone 8b)

May 20, 2008
6:16 PM

Post #4979098

Sapphire,

I'm just a little south of you, in central Texas and I have two pairs of Eastern bluebirds nesting. We see them for most of the year, so I would guess that you could have them in your area as well. If you look at the map on Wikipedia for the Eastern Bluebird entry, it shows that we are in the border of the year-round range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Bluebird

David
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

May 23, 2008
12:10 AM

Post #4990132

I have had Eastern Bluebirds for more than ten years now. I totally enjoy them; they are beautiful and I love their chortle. They stay here year around: 100 miles south of St Louis.
Fitsy
Hayesville, NC
(Zone 7a)

March 1, 2010
1:37 PM

Post #7596560

I am so sorry to have to protest one little detail of the
beautiful article about bluebirds! Why are we told
that the boxes should be 5 feet off of the ground?
In my experience, they need to be higher!

The entrance hole of my bluebird house was 5 + 1/2
feet above ground - I measured. One day I saw a
long black snake sliding itself up the post that holds
the house. It was not wrapping around the post, just
leaning on the post, and going straight up. The
snake stuck its head in the entrance hose, and pulled
its entire body inside. I was rushing to the site as fast
as I could, but when I got there, the snake was all the
way in. I opened the house and got the snake out,
but why bother.

The bluebirds did not return to the nest.

Fitsy

Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

March 1, 2010
2:10 PM

Post #7596618

Oh my gosh Sharron;
I have not cleaned out my boxes from last year yet! I have got to get mine cleaned out today!

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2010
2:30 PM

Post #7596662

Hey Fitsy,

Sialis recommends anywhere from 3-10 feet off the ground. It is of critical importance that you use a snake baffle as any snake, long or short can climb poles, trees, houses, etc. I wouldn't want to do a 10' pole unless I had a good ladder so that I could easily monitor the box.

Once again, here is the sialis link for baffles to prevent snake predation.

Best of luck!
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

March 1, 2010
2:35 PM

Post #7596670

Fitsy, Watching a snake go into a bluebird house has to be a bad experience. Bluebird homes should be about 5 feet off the ground. Snakes slither up anything. I noticed a robin having a fit on the railing of my deck one day. I walked outside to see what was the problem heading for the robin's nest. There was a snake about 8 inches from my deck door slithering up the brick wall. This scene was about 10 feet off the ground. So, it's not the height that will keep bluebirds safe in their homes. One should put a BAFFLE around the pole. This will keep snakes from entering the nest. Try again to invite bluebirds into your yard and buy a baffle. You may want to either move your nest box or preferably buy another box. Then, the BB would have two options, and perhaps another cavity nesting bird will chose the other box. Just don't let house wrens nest in one of them. They will kill bluebird babies and destroy their eggs.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

March 1, 2010
8:45 PM

Post #7597549

Fitsey;
I saw the same thing over at my neighbor's house. It was close to a half drained pond with lots of concrete and stuff put in it to be filled later. Snakey place to begin with.

Never the less - I do not appreicate you sharing this with us. It gives me the willies. There are some things in my mind I do not want to revisit. (I am half kidding, don't take me too serious)

Sharron I went out and cleaned those boxes today and put sevin in them. I am ready. Good thing too because on my way back to the house there waiting for me was a puffed out, cold little blue bird with his red chest, and he was watching me!

I think I have two more good places for two more boxes. I could buy them at Wal Mart - but I have some medium sized gourds. I wonder if I could use them? I have even saved two wide plastic jars and lids - I was thinking about cutting and attaching to the gourds as a clean out. (Fitsey I could get the snakes out easier too - thanks for that thought again!)

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2010
9:56 PM

Post #7597712

I wouldn't use the gourds as they would be difficult to monitor.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2010
11:16 PM

Post #7597873


Go ahead and make those gourds up with jar top clean outs. Give them a coat or two of no gloss outside varnish. They will last for years. I would prefer you to consider Neem Oil as a clean up method over harsh chemicals which may harm your birds.

Hint...I use Bondo...fender bender fix 'er upper polyester...available at K-Mart's auto supplies counter to build in the clean outs. This needs to be varnish sealed also.

Thumbnail by docgipe
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

March 2, 2010
1:14 AM

Post #7598180

Why thanks docgipe, I was wondering what would hold the jar tops on. Thanks for the hint on the Neem oil or lutside varnish too.

Ms. Ed I did see these clean out things on the gourds at a craft fair show a couple of years ago. But like I said I had no idea what they were held on by. I was considering wood construction glue in a caulk tube, or even that wood putty.

Docgipe:
Good picture. Picture is worth a thousand words.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 2, 2010
2:14 AM

Post #7598306

There is a gourd called "apple gourd". It grows to look like an apple. Stained to a transparent red and fixed up with a clean out yields a $40.00 mighty fine gift. I got about two dozen well seasoned gourds off of two plants. To get them well seasoned they need to be started indoors in the Northeast. I make them special thank you gifts within my personal activities and among friends. It finishes out looking like a Red Delicious.

When I do things like this I try to do a half dozen or more at a time. That keeps me out of trouble for a year or two. LOL

Here is another picture of the gourd process. Note the bottom drainage which is a bit of nylon webbing that dry wall finishers use over the holes.

Thumbnail by docgipe
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

March 2, 2010
2:51 AM

Post #7598395

Neat idea the dry wall netting on the inside. What do you use to keep the netting in place on the inside?

And what would be the best way to attach it to the post. Should I put some bono inside for extra strength for a wood screw?

I know what you mean about making something I enjoy! I have done that before. I don't mean you overmade, but I sure have. Things like Raggedy Anns and Andys, basket gourds out of kettle gourds untill I am sick of them and stop. Crafting is a dangerous thing for obssessive people like me. But I do not plan on getting that way with these bird houses. Just two - for the two good places I have found and need to put them for bluebirds.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 2, 2010
2:51 PM

Post #7599422

Any hardware store or big box store shelf has 50/50 tubes of epoxy. That will hold the nylon webbing. Rather than use Bondo for attachment strength I would make squares of saturated tea stained epoxy soaked broadcloth two layers thick inside and outside. That will beef up the strength for a holding screw with a washer on the inside. Bluebirds have never liked the swinging bird houses in my experience. Do not use any perches or toe holds on the gourd. Bluebirds and your other possible residents...Tree Swallow, Black Cap Chickadee, Carolina Wren and the damn English Sparrows do not need either.

On the top of the gourd where the stem comes out you have a concave puddle site. I fill that with 50/50 Epoxy too to discourage rot. You could drop candle or canning wax there after the gourd is varnished

Finally now that you seem to be off and moving to make a really nice gourd house...buy borrow or steal a wood burning tool and sign it on the side under the fastening screw hole. This will be a natural heirloom of the future for your grandchildren. They bring pretty good bucks when of this quality and signed with a family name that can be identified...but you will not live to see that 75 - 100 year process. The more aged that they are the better they are. A bit of maintenance helps make them age into patina that will not quit.

Please show us your project as it develops and eventually is set out to attract the birds.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

March 2, 2010
9:17 PM

Post #7600336

Why thankyou for the information;
I bought the bondo today at Wal Mart. I was standing there trying to get my mind on what I needed as my husband and older son stood beside me - wanting to go - making life miserable. Husband has retired and son -- well -- that is their new job. .
A washer to increase the surface area is a great idea
The wax on the stem site is good.
Not familiar with 50/50 epoxy, but I will see to it.

I will send pictures, if the Lord gives me the strength. I don't know what is wrong with me. I am always planning something from crafts to planting some new type of blackberry or hydrangea. The last few months all I want to do is sit in front of the fire and read silly fantasy books. Maybe this will get me back more to myself.

Thanks for the help
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 2, 2010
11:20 PM

Post #7600589

Epoxy...of several time periods to harden. The tubes about three inches long are bubble packed marked part A and part B. They mix 50/50 by volume and set up hard within the time marked on the sales information card. I have always worked with the 5 minute type. There is no difference in quality just the set times. Do not buy the one that looks like a hypodermic needle. It is hard to control and a lot of waste is the end result. It keeps better in the two tube kits for other projects. I often mix a little project up with a Popsicle stick on wax paper.
Illig1
Redwood City, CA

March 3, 2010
2:20 AM

Post #7601052

Thanks for the great article. At our Oregon property (near Medford in the Rogue River valley) we placed blue bird boxes on each fence post in the horse pasture. The boxes were about four-feet high and each box was occupied by bluebirds who popped their heads out every time we drove past the pasture during the nesting season. I think the birds can be somewhat flexible about the nest height if all other conditions are favorable. Thanks again.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 3, 2010
2:20 PM

Post #7602006

Agreed on height. They do however favor South to East facing entrances...although when on fence posts the cattle often will nudge them to the point of falling off the post. We had horses one of which never seemed to pay the boxes any attention while the stable mate would go nosing around at a moments notice. We eventually had to move the boxes to an out of reach position on the other side of the fence.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

March 3, 2010
11:16 PM

Post #7603263

Docgipe;
I am working on the gourd bluebird house. It is drying now, and then I think I will add and smooth up some more of that bondo - before I send some pictures, so you will think I am neat. Right now it is not so neat.
Now the stem - bondo will not stop it from leaking there - even if I paint it with oil paint?

Also I am thinking about painting it with oil paint because they do that on martin bird houses. Are just using the varnish because you like the color of the natural gourd? (If so I have to say I do too) but it might be more durable if painted in oil though??? What are your thoughts on this?
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 3, 2010
11:59 PM

Post #7603367

You get what you pay for in all paints and varnishes. The paint stores will be happy to suggest their best quality materials. The methods I have suggested work. I take the position if it is not broken don't re-engineer it.

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