Well, it seems like our winter has been sporadic and hints of spring keep popping up here and there with 70 degree temperatures and beautiful days. Along with the warm temperatures, we’re not the only ones getting spring fever. Our bluebirds are pairing up and starting their spring cleaning in bluebird houses across the Lowcountry.
It may seem a little early, but February is usually the time to clean out your bluebird boxes and usually the occupation of boxes is not that far behind. Already, I’m seeing bluebird males standing guard on top of the nest boxes, while the female is going in and out, inspecting and readying the “home” for a burgeoning family of little bluebirds!
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is a member of the thrush family that contains other members such as the wood thrush, hermit thrush, and American robin. These small birds, at one time, were declining due to loss of habitat and nesting areas, as well as competition from non-native species such as the European Starling and English (House) sparrows, who aggressively out compete the native bluebird for nest cavities. In decline, a couple of wonderful folks by the name of Dr. Lawrence Zeleny and Mary D. Janetatos started the North American Bluebird Society due to their concern for the decline of bluebirds and through this society and their efforts, they have raised awareness of the bluebird’s plight and have made the bluebird nest project one of the most successful and popular wildlife conservation and preservation movements in history! To their credit, bluebirds have benefited greatly from nest box programs all across the easternU.S. and the population is now stable and even growing in many areas. Nowadays, it is almost guaranteed that you can put up a box and have bluebirds nest it if it is located in a favorable place. Here’s a few facts and things to keep in mind about erecting and monitoring a bluebird box:
-There are many plans for different types of bluebird boxes on the internet, if you want to make your own.
-The entrance hole is 1 1/2″ in diameter and the box should be located on a pole or post about 5 feet off the ground.
-The best time to erect a box us usually in February or March, but they can be erected any time.
-Don’t mount nest boxes on trees
-It is not necessary to paint your box or stain it. Use a natural rot resistant wood like cedar or cypress. If you do paint your box, paint it in dull or natural colors and only paint the outside.
-Bluebirds don’t need a perch on their boxes.
-Monitor the box once a week up until the birds hatch. After that, don’t disturb the boxes because you may startle the young into jumping from the nest.
-Keep an eye out for neighborhood and feral cats. They can catch the adults and also prey upon the young in the process of fledging
-Clean your boxes each February. It isn’t necessary to clean the box out after the young fledge.