Blue Birds

 

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Hi, your friend Lindsay here. My Dad and I have a mission, our mission is to bring bluebirds back to New Jersey as well as the rest of the United States. The reason Bluebirds need our help is because they don't nest in trees like most birds do, they lives in holes in the tree. The reason they are rare is because in the 1800's the house sparrow and European Starling  were introduced to America.and overtook the nests .The Europeans thought they would be helping with insect problems by introducing house sparrows, but these birds were aggressive and destructive to crops. Both these birds are cavity nesters too and compete with the native bluebirds. They both have overpopulated the United States.There are more house sparrows and starlings than all our native song birds combined.

  The very bad part about house sparrows is when they find a hole in a tree they take it , even if bluebirds already live there. The house sparrows will kill the timid bluebird parents if they are there. They are able to do this because the house sparrow has a thick strong beak and the bluebird have a thin beak. Once the bluebird parents are dead the house sparrow will peck at the babies or eggs to kill them . Starlings will do this too. This and loss of habitat caused a 90% reduction of our bluebirds in the USA.  That is the problem and  this is the solution.

       My Dad and I build bluebird boxes for them and check them at least every week to make sure the bluebirds are thriving and to check who is nesting there. This is important so that you can remove any house sparrows that may have claimed the nest. You can tell by the nest what type of bird is building in the nest box. Other native American birds that are good and like to use nest boxes are tree swallows and chickadees.  I have pictures of both  of those on my birds page, check there if you want to identify a nest.

      Some people think don't think building nest boxes helps. I know it does. We have birds in everyone of our boxes so far. The nest boxes   so far this year 1999  they have produced 18 babies with 12 already fledged. I started making boxes at first just to see a real bluebird and now I have convinced my school St Mary of the Lakes in Medford NJ to help. The two fourth grade classes have built  and put up 24 bluebird boxes, but two classes of kids and a girl and her Dad aren't enough people to save the bluebirds. My Dad wrote to the Captain Planet foundation and my school just recieved a grant for 500.00 to help us set up more boxes. Thanks Captain Planet foundation! We also need volunteers from all over to help us in our mission. We need nestbox monitors too. Besides , if we don't act now , what will the future hold? Loss of the prettiest bird in New Jersey.

.Bluebirds are my favorite bird. They are very different from bluejays.

Attract a bluebird

You need to have nestboxes to attract these, bird feeders won't work. Although, they will visit mealworm feeders once they are attracted to your area by nestboxes and habitat. They are cavity dwellers and have lost a lot of their natural nesting cavities. Good sites for nest boxes are in open rural areas with a few trees and low growth. They like to have a perch spot for hunting too Make sure there is something for the babies to perch on when they first fledge the box so they don't land on the ground where predators can get them. Placing your box within 15 feet of a small tree is a great idea.

It might be a good idea even to see if you can convince your local golf course, parks or cemeteries to allow you to put some boxes there as long as they don't use pesticides.

Monitoring Your Box

You must check your box at least once a week during nesting. You need to be sure that it is bluebirds setting up house. You can tell this by the nest that is being built.  Below you will see a nest with eggs as well as chickadee and  tree swallow nests. I think it is nice to help these birds too. You can set up extra boxes for them that is what I do. You can put these closer than the 100 -150 yards away required for multiple bluebird boxes.You can place the 5-25 yards away.

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Bluebird eggs in my nest box. 4 / 9/99

Nest Identification

Bluebird nest above is made of all grass and sometimes has some fur lining it

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Chickadee nest notice the green moss.

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Tree swallow nest, usually has grass and a feather lining

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House wren nests and dummy nest

House wrens will fill all the boxes with sticks so that no other birds can use them. They fill  even nest boxes that they are not using. House wrens will peck the eggs of bluebirds and other birds in their nesting area. These are native birds but have been overpopulated because most bird house sold are made to allow wrens only by their small opening size. House wrens are destructive to other birds also  so please take down all those commercially made little bird houses that are so cute.

Natural Bluebird Nest Cavity

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Here is a natural nest cavity in an old tree that was cut down at a friends house. There is a blurbird nest in that hole in the tree. The tree stump was used as an fence post and the nest cavity was about 4 feet high.

Nesting and Fledging

Both the male and female help to build the nest. They start nesting in late March or early April and will sometimes make two or three successful nesting. They build their nest from grass. When the nest is done, the female incubates the eggs and the male will bring her insects to eat and guard the box from other birds. They usually lay 4-5 pale blue eggs.It takes anywhere from 14-18 days to hatch the eggs. It depends on the weather. The babies grow rapidly and they fledge  anywhere from 18-21 days..Once the babies fledge you need to remove the old nest from the box. You will have a much greater chance of getting a second nesting that way.

Below you will see a series of pictures of my bluebirds growing

I am going to try and get a picture when they hatch!!! So check back!

They hatched!!!!!!!!!4/27/99  This is so exciting! You have to set up a bluebird box. I will be getting more pictures as they grow.

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Now they have feathers but they can't fly yet .They are very funny looking

5/7/99

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5/9/99

They are starting to get blue feathers now

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I checked the box again today5/15/99 and they have fledged! I am a bit disappointed to have missed it . I still have some hope though my second bluebird nest was due to hatch 5/12/99. I  checked it yesterday morning and it was a bit cold here in NJ. I tapped the box before opening it nothing came out. I opened the box and the devoted mother bluebird wouldn't leave the nest. I couldn't see the babies. She was covering them to keep them warm. I quickly got this picture and I  left the devoted mother  to keep her babies warm despite me opening the box.. I couldn't believe it! She was so pretty and so brave. I think soon I am going to make a page devoted only to my favorite bird, the bluebird !

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Close up baby bluebird from my second nest 5/22/99. This picture is much better than the first picture

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Here they are almost ready to fledge. 6/1/99 can you believe how much they have grown!!!!!!

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A second bluebird nest 5/2/99. Bluebirds make their nests out of dried grass a good way to tell the difference between who is building a nest in your box

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Here is a new pair that so far have laid 4 eggs in my backyard. That is the mom on top of the box and the Dada in a tree. I love to watch them in my yard!!!

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instructions to build a nest box click here Bluebird Nestbox

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