Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Nest Building: Bluebirds and Chickadees

With Spring apparently here to stay, these Bluebirds have taken up residence in our "upper" box. We have two boxes, this "upper" one sits more out in the open, at the top of a slope along the edge of the golf course fairway. 

Momma has been hard at work building her nest with the ample supply of pine needles from the White Pines lining the fairway.

It only took her about two days, as I'm writing this the pair appear to be finished building and have been occupying themselves with "activities" ;)        (meaning momma might be laying eggs soon)

In the 9 years since we moved here and put out bluebird boxes, this is only the 2nd time a pair of Bluebirds has successfully won possession of this box for the Spring nesting season. Usually the more aggressive Tree Swallows run them off and use the box in the Spring, then the Bluebirds move in after the Swallows have fledged and raise a brood in mid-summer. This is one mean papa Bluebird! After watching them be so easily dominated in years past, it's quite surprising to see such an aggressive Bluebird.

Our other nest box, the "lower" box, visible here in the background, is placed just on the edge of a grouping of trees. This box is typically used by either Bluebirds or Chickadees for the Spring nesting season, and House Wrens for the summer season. I was hopping down the driveway on my crutches the other day to check if this box had any signs of activity when I saw a little movement ahead...

Silly little birdy! This Chickadee was pulling off fibers of the piece of twine I use to secure the door to our leaf mulch bin.

I'm glad I had the camera with me, he was so cute wrestling fibers off this twine, and he's likely going to use them to line a nest with. I didn't linger because I didn't want to seem like a predator and make them uncomfortable. Later on in the day, I went back to peek in the box, and sure enough, it was filled 2/3 with moss, a sure sign of Chickadee use.

Have you ever seen a Chickadee with a Wilford Brimley mustache?


  1. I love these shots, and you are so lucky to have bluebirds. We put up boxes several years ago, and the bluebirds immediately found them to start nesting, but all were soon ousted by aggressive house sparrows.

    Our neighbors battle the house sparrows by removing their nests, and then bluebirds start to nest again, but each time sparrows push them out. How lucky you are that your bluebirds don't get evicted!

  2. Thanks Laurrie, I'm sorry to hear about your House Sparrow problem. We have battled them for years and oddly enough, it seems the Tree Swallows, who are very aggressive as well, are one of our best defenses.

    I've also had great success trapping House Sparrows and relocating them using a Van Ert trap. It's a trap door that traps them inside the nestbox. I've been told I should euthanize the ones I catch, but I just can't. Trapping them is a lot of work, and you have to monitor it closely so you don't catch a bluebird, but it's been well worth the effort. (I might have to do a post on that)

  3. So nice to see the bluebirds enjoying themselves. And what fun that chickadee was having. I need to do more with nestboxes.

  4. Julie, I love these shots! Interesting comment you had on the tree swallows. They are a native species; the house sparrow is an invasive species. Wonder if that has anything to do with it, or if the sparrow is just a common irritant to both. I understand your inability to euthanize the invaders--not sure I could, either. Even after reading all the info (and viewing photos) on Maybe I could let my cat do it for me. (That ought to get me in trouble...!)