View Full Version : Where Are the Bluebirders?
03-16-2007, 10:46 AM
Where are you? :confused:
I, for one, am a bluebirder and would like to see this conference started.
Doesn't anyone have a question or concern regarding bluebirds? :confused:
Doesn't any experienced bluebird manager have anything to contribute about bluebirds? :rolleyes:
Doesn't anyone want to contribute to the interest of conserving bluebirds? :confused:
Bluebird skies and nestboxes to all!
03-16-2007, 01:03 PM
I for one am worried about the fate of Bluebirds this year in northern Illinois.
Due to the warm start of winter in December and January, small groups were
spotted flying in my area. They are known to stay when the winter is mild.
After the deep freeze in February they seem to have disappeared. Hopefully they found food or were able to fly further south before the weather turned frigid.
They usually start to show up at nest boxes here around mid March.
Will be watching closely for their return and hope the numbers have not been seriously affected.
They will have their mealworms awaiting them.
03-16-2007, 02:26 PM
Hi, Larry. Living in the Deep South (LA), I observe my blues year-round. I know that they don't migrate but, as I like to say, "retreat." during inclement weather. They simply retreat to thick woods and live on berries (primarily Sumac) and hunker-down out of the wind. Down here, they seldom roost in anything but simply huddle on the leeward side of tree boughs.
Up North, they would migrate if necessary but the problem can become deadly for them if a late winter storm hits with strong wind and sub-freezing temps for several (3-5) days. That's when mass deaths can occur. I've heard of some cases this year already where some bluebirds in communal roosts in nestboxes have died. In one case, supplemental feeding was made available to no avail.
One other parameter of food supply that I had not considered before this year is also competition for winter berries by other species. Down here, we had an unusually large and early influx of robins from up north that wiped out our berry supplies some time in early December! Normally we don't see robins until January but they were behaviorally triggered to move far and move fast by an early winter blast or two. All of the berries that are normally available for bluebirds, starlings and cedar waxing about this time, have been gone for months. Could the same competitive dynamics apply in other areas of the mid continent or even further north to trigger unusual or abnormal migration patterns? These are complicated questions without simply answers.
03-16-2007, 03:17 PM
Dear Kenny and Larry,
While I agree that bluebirds do not migrate, it appears to me that they do leave and go somewhere. I always think that bluebirds are like Canada Geese (now permanent residents of many states yearlong) and other birds affected by adverse weather, they go some distances where the weather is more moderate than where they came from and where there may be a supply of food.
In the NE area of IL where Larry and I live, I always think that the birds go to Carbondale ;) downstate.
Actually, I don't know where they go, but when it is 15 degree below zero and much snow cover, I really don't think that they stay around but move on.
Just my thoughts!
By the way, last year was my first year with bluebirds in 20 years. A male came down the pike to my backyard and it was quite a surprise--a delightful surprise. The male BB and a Tree Swallow pair duked it out but both nested in the same backyard confines.
Only thing is that the Tree Swallows and BBs are so tenacious, it makes it difficult to start a new martin colony.
Any thought, Kenny?
03-16-2007, 04:55 PM
While it appears that my statement says "bluebirds don't migrate," it really was meant to say that in the south, bluebirds don't migrate. Bluebirds in the north indeed DO migrate as far south as the Tennessee/Kentucky areas. While I was with NABS, they wisely had "experts" to answer questions from various regions because bluebirds behave differently regionally. If I am to answer questions for the whole range of bluebirds, I need to be careful about what occurs only in certain regions. Bluebirds in Illinois definetely migrate when necessary. The definition of "necessary" is what can vary from year to year. That's when the issues of quality/quantity of food supply, severity and duration of bad weather, food competitors, predation all play a part in what tells a species to stay put or move on.
Hi :) This is my first visit to this forum. I live in Michigan and have a small bluebird trail (6 boxes, 2 gourds)on 5 acres. I put my first houses up mid-season last summer, and have had 2 successful fledges. The BBs hung around here all winter, only disappearing in the coldest days. At this time, I have one BB occupied box with 5 eggs (not sure if there is a 6th, as I haven't checked with the cool weather we have right now).
04-26-2007, 07:47 AM
Hi, Marianne. Welcome to the forum. I too have a tendency not to bother a nestbox with just-started incubation. But, on my major trails, I have to do it all of the time with no cases of abandonment.
Good luck this year!
Thanks for the welcome, Kenny :)
Yes, I usually check the boxes daily, and have never had a problem with abandonment. The BBs are pretty used to me, and usually wait for me (might have something to do with the mealies I bring with me to the perch I have set up about 15' in front of their boxes- lol). But, when it is cool, I try not to open their box and let the warmth out. Last year, I did have to remove an egg that was not fertile, and another one did not fully develop (I wonder if it had gotten a chill sometime during incubation). This was all with the first clutch here, originally a 6-egg clutch. I know we may all have experiences such as this and it may not be my fault at all, but since then I have been extra careful to be sure it is nice and warm outside before I peek. The second clutch, all developed and all survived.
Good luck to you and your babies this year as well! :)
04-26-2007, 11:12 AM
I'd like to comment on Blue Birds in my area. Around here (18 Miles East of Grand Rapids, Mich) the Blues stick around all year round. They do go out back, (1/8 to 1/4 mile) where there is a pretty dense swampy area. Lots of Berry Brambles, that will tear a mans skin to shreds if he were to try going through. I've deer hunted in this area in years past, and would always see Blues while out there. I also have a heated bird bath, which the Blues frequent when the weather is really nasty cold. My thought is that their normal water puddles, and the small creek running through the swamp probably freeze over, and they know there is fresh water at my place. A couple years ago, the middleof January, in a blinding snow storm, I saw twelve Blues at one time in the bird bath, in the tree above it, and on their bird houses. They all seemed to be waiting for the bird bath to clear out, so they could get a drink, and a bath. Once they were done, they all headed back towards the swampy area in a group. I also quite often see them checking out all the bird houses in the yard on nice days. I'm NOT trying to say all Blue Birds act this way, just that this is what I've seen over the 40 years I've lived here. CUL Lou
Hi CUL Lou! Is so nice to see a familiar face :) That is one thing I need to get yet- A heated birdbath. (I beleive you sold me on this idea last summer, but I just haven't gotten around to it just yet.) Other than the pair nesting here and their young in the summer, I have not seen so many at once. It gets just too quiet here in the winter and I feel I'm really missing something there!
Mountain Breeze Martins
12-02-2008, 01:26 PM
I am just starting a martin house this spring. I also want to set a bluebird house up as well. Where does one get these meal worms from, raise them or store them? How hard is it to attract the blue birds? I see them flying around here all of the time. What is the best way to feed the meal worms to them? What else do they eat? What is the best house for the blue birds? Where would you suggest its placement? I have 1/2acre lot and most of it is open. Oh yeah I am located in NE Tennessee, Bristol to be exact.
12-05-2008, 06:26 AM
Hi Mountain Breeze Martins:
I am not Terry and I think she is depending on me to answer questions, so here goes.
First, you can Google meal worms and you'll come up with companies such as "Sunshine Meal Worms", "Grubco", etc. Those are good companies to buy from. Usually, if you find them locally, they are pretty high priced. You keep them in the fridge and follow directions about feeding them and setting them out at times. You can also Google for this info. As for raising meal worms, you can Google that info if you think you want to get into that.
I feed my birds stewed, chopped raisins. I also make a ball of one cup chunky peanut butter, one cup lard and stiffen it with dry quick cooking oats and corn meal. They absolutely love it! If you offer them meal worms and the above food I listed, they will pig out on the meal worms and snub the other stuff. I have fed mine the above food now for 12 years and they love it! My yard blues have to have a snack of raisins even in the summer! I limit it then.
If you are seeing bluebirds, you are just about certain to get them if you can provide a good habitat for them. Since your lot is open space, that is fantastic! The box needs to be placed facing either northeast, east, southeast or south and toward a tree, bush or building the babies can fledge to. Place it no closer than 20 ft. to a tree or bush as some other species might compete for it and no farther than 100 ft. from the landing site. The babies fly directly to a tree, bush or building when they leave the nest and stay there for at least a week in the trees being fed by their parents before learning to drop to the ground and feed themselves.
I recommend a box that has been approved by the North American Bluebird Society. Our organization offers them for $25.00 shipping included and they are the true one inch cypress, NABS approved boxes. We put a roof with a 2 inch overhang all around the box. You get a year's membership to our organization, (no strings attached). I am not doing this as a promotion, just letting you know where you can get a fine box. You can reach me at email@example.com if you are interested. You might want to also visit our website at www.labayoubluebirdsociety.org. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are there and our latest newsletter is up on the site.
If you plan to put up a martin box, I would place the bluebird box anywhere from 25 to 50 ft. from it. Many martin landlords do this to keep the bluebirds from taking over the martin house.
I wish you the best and bluebirds and martins!
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