Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Looking for Mr. Bluebird

I was excited about watching birds through the clear backed
Nest View Birdhouse I bought earlier this spring (read about it here).  
Although I moved it to a bedroom window
and kept the blinds drawn, so as not to frighten the birds, 
it sits quiet and empty. 
I was disappointed...but all was not lost.

Quite by coincidence a friend appeared, 
Bluebird house in hand. 
It turns out that he builds them and gives them as gifts, in memory of a friend. 

Visions of pretty Bluebirds filled my head.
The house is made with specific dimensions to attract Bluebirds,
with a hinged front door to allow monitoring of the nest. 
I absentmindedly listened to his instructions on
identifying the nest building habits of Sparrows, Wrens and Bluebirds 
and his warning that he sometimes has to clean
House Sparrow nests out of his Bluebird house 3 times a day.
Was I in for a surprise.

We held our breath for the first sign of activity. 
Within a week, there was nesting material in the house.
Identifying the nesting style wasn't necessary. 
The House Sparrows taking up residence made their presence abundantly clear.

They were all over the house when no one was around,
but once I stepped foot out of the house, they were nowhere to be found.  
I couldn't get a clear shot of them through the back door. 
So, I one sunny morning I went out to wait.

The first to come out from hiding was Mr. Cardinal,
ready to put on a show. 

Soon, friendly Robins joined in. 
Seemingly without fear, they hopped ever nearer.

Blue Jay made a brief appearance on high.

It was a cold morning and I underestimated the tenacity of those Sparrows. 
I gave up and went in without catching them on the house.

Their tenacity in claiming the birdhouse was unrelenting as well.
I did some research on House Sparrows and learned here that 
"House Sparrows are non-native invasive pests, and are not protected by law. 
They will attack and kill adult bluebirds (sometimes trapping them in the nest box),
and destroy eggs and young. 
House Sparrow nests, eggs, young, and adults may be legally removed or destroyed.  
It is better to have no box at all than to allow House Sparrows to reproduce in one."

Clearly, something had to be done. 

I learned about mounting fishing line on the house,
which scares House Sparrows, but apparently doesn't bother Bluebirds here.

Our Bluebird house now looks like this. 

The House Sparrows are gone...
we're still waiting for Bluebirds. 


HolleyGarden said...

I hope the bluebirds find your house soon!

One said...

You do seem to have many beautiful birds. Perhaps you need to put out a message to invite the blue birds. Wonder if they would trip over the lines.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered where the cardinals nest. I saw a pair at the feeder today, but never saw where they set up a family.

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

Fascinating! I had no idea that the little sparrows were so aggressive. It is amazing how difficult it is to get the bluebirds to nest in ones garden. I hope they will find your house soon!

Ginny said...

I hope a bluebird finds a home in your bluebird house! Lovely photos of the other birds.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

House sparrows are like Japanese barberry, horribly invasive and destructive. Here's hoping for bluebirds. Carolyn

Alan @ It's not work, It's gardening! said...

Keep us posted on the fishing line effectiveness -- that's a great tip that I didn't know about! Sparrows are the main reason I haven't put up a bluebird house before... going to have to try this!

Sheila said...

I was reading your post hoping that the bluebirds would find the box and kick the sparrows out. This is the second year we've had bluebirds nesting in a box outside our dining room window. During nest-building (and even before) they are quite vigilant and aggressive about defending the box. The male bluebird will dive on any bird investigating the box.

Kate/ Beyond the Brambles said...

Very suspenseful post! Last weekend I visited the birdhouses at an Audubon park near me. They too were built for bluebirds, but taken over by swallows. Just when I had given up hope of seeing my first bluebird, I spotted a pair of them at one of the houses, fending off all those swallows! Like Sheila mentioned, the male was diving at the birds that came close. The female was keeping watch at the door.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Wow. See, this is the problem with gardens and nature and caring at all--once you get started, you have to go all the way. You have to learn. You have to commit fully. Argh. This happened to me with over 200 monarchs last year.

Donna said...

Oh I like the idea of the fishing line since my bluebirds are always a day late and the other birds (sparrows and swallows) TAKE THE HOUSES..HOPE YOURS FIND THE HOUSE

Chris said...

HolleyGarden: Thank you! I hope so, too.
One: I guess I'll have to wait patiently for the Bluebirds to find us.
GWGT: I enjoy seeing and hearing the Cardinals in our yard, but they keep their nests hidden from our view.
Karin: It has certainly been a learning experience for me. I didn't know that Bluebirds were once common in the US. Their numbers declined drastically due to a number of factors, one of which was the introduction of the House Sparrow to the US.
Ginny: Thanks! We do too!
Carolyn: We're keeping our hopes up.
Alan: The fishing wire has done it's job and the House Sparrows are gone. Now if the Bluebirds would just show up.
Sheila: I'm glad to hear that you have Bluebirds in your box! I'm sure you're enjoying them.
Kate: Good for those Bluebirds! I'm glad you were able to spot them.
Benjamin: Yes, quite true...and our lives are certainly the richer for it.
Donna: I'm hoping for the best and keeping my eyes pealed for the Bluebirds. Thanks!

Ramona said...

Hope the bluebirds will find their home at your place soon. Fishing line is a great idea to encourage those house sparrows to scoot along.

Alistair said...

Chris you have many wonderful birds which visit your garden, hope the bluebird finds its way to your nesting box. I am almost incensed at the the dislike for the house sparrow and wonder if it differs in temperament from the UK one. A decline in the population of them had everyone concerned about their well being a few years ago.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I love seeing the flash of blue of the bluebirds as they flitter through the woods. Just wonderful.

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