[CT Birds] questions on Bluebird boxes.

Marty Swanhall mswanhall at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 23 13:36:57 EDT 2010

What great info - thanks, Paul!

(I had a side wall crack this year btw)

Marty from Woodbury

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carrier Graphics" <carriergraphics at sbcglobal.net>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Friday, July 23, 2010 12:03 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] questions on Bluebird boxes.

>I was recently asked about this subject  - So for those who might be 
> in FACTS pertaining to bird boxes and esp Bluebirds, here they are from 
> several
> sources, plus some from my 30 years of maintaining  Bluebird box trails of 
> up to
> 200 boxes.
> Bluebirds:
> Usually two broods a year here in CT.
> 1st week, female will leave eggs for a day while incubating.
> 2nd week, she will leave for no more than 1 hr or the eggs might chill.
> Female sleeps on eggs for one week or more after hatching.
> Brooding temp is 95-98 degrees. over 107 will kill them.
> It takes 13-14 day to hatch, unless cold, then up to 21 days.
> Day of hatching, baby's weigh 1 oz. 3 days 2 oz.
> Day 11, babies very active in box, Day 14, peer out of opening.
> 18 days after hatching, they fledge. If food abundant, 1 day earlier.
> Adults catch prey every 2 of 3 attempts. Can spot prey 75 feet away.
> One week after fledging, parents supply food, Female then builds new nest.
> Male still guards - feeds young.
> 2 weeks, fledglings feed on their own and become self sufficient.
> 1st brood, average 75-95% successful. 2nd brood about 55%. (first broods 
> here in
> CT much lower than average because of cold, wet April weather).
> Most young Bluebirds die within their first year. 50% survival is above 
> average.
> One in ten young reach adulthood. Up to 50 % adults die each year.
> Average age of a Bluebird in wild is only 2 years.
> Best placement of BB box. Morning sun good, afternoon, some shade good.
> Best positioning. Hole facing south best - Also south east or south west 
> OK. Not
> North!
> Always use a predator guard on box pole. Without, your chances of having a
> failure are over 50%!
> Ground predators to boxes on un protected poles are: cats, raccoons, mice,
> bears, snakes (Black rat snake, Black racer, poss Milksnake here in CT). A 
> cheap
> guard is a 3 foot length of PVC pipe.
> Two boxes placed 20 feet apart is best luck for attracting Bluebirds. One 
> for
> them, one for another species. They will nest side by side without 
> interfering
> with each other. (cept for House Sparrows, the worst detriment to nesting 
> birds
> in boxes).
> Always make sure your boxes are in good shape! if not, they become death 
> traps
> to the birds using them! They should always be water proof. If un treated, 
> the
> wood will crack in time. Replace the part, or make a new box.
> Never paint a box inside! Also-boxes do best if not painted. Wood needs to
> breath, so weatherproof the outside with stain or other clear penetrating
> solution. Best is a mixture of diluted linseed oil with or without stain. 
> You
> can put on new coats of this throughout the years.
> Roof. A wood roof should always be protected with something. My best luck 
> has
> been the following.....
> Cut a roofing tile to fit with half inch overhang all around. I then coat 
> the
> wood roof with roofing tar, position the tile, then use 4 small, short 
> brad
> nails to secure. I have had boxes last 20 plus years with this type of 
> roof.
> Good luck, and remember. It is our responsibility to give the birds a 
> better
> chance of fledging their young than they would have in the wild. By using 
> a
> built bird box that is in good shape and protected with a predator guard, 
> the
> chances of successfullyfledging are roughly 40 to 75 % depending on the 
> years
> weather. In the wild, it could be much less.
> Paul Carrier
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