Our resident bluebird couple decided to select the nestcam box for their 3rd clutch of this season. We’ve been enjoying watching the nest building process.
The link to the live video from the nestcam box is shown below. You may have to authorize the installation of a small OCX file to display the live video in your browser. Check to see if you get a message on your toolbar.
Female bluebird resting after working hard on the nest.
Now that bluebird nesting season is here once again, be on the lookout for Brown-headed Cowbirds. Brown-headed Cowbirds are parasitic birds that do not build their own nests. They lay their eggs in nests of other bird species. Usually one or two Cowbird eggs are deposited per nest. If undetected by the parents of the host species, the Cowbird egg hatches and the cowbird nestling is raised along with the young of the host species. The female Cowbird waits until the some of the eggs of the host species are laid and then surreptitiously lays her egg in the same nest sometimes removing a host species egg to make room for hers. Female Cowbirds are very prolific and can lay as many as 36 eggs in a season.
The host species parents may notice the Cowbird egg and react in different ways. Sometimes the nest is abandoned. Other times, the Cowbird egg is buried under nesting material. In some cases, the Cowbird egg is removed from the nest. Some host species may even eject the Cowbird nestling from the nest.
Brown-headed Cowbirds periodically check their eggs and young after they have deposited them. Removal of the parasitic egg may trigger a retaliatory response from the Cowbirds such as ransacking the host nest or complete destruction of the nest to force the host species to build a new nest and start over. The female Cowbird will observe the nest-building activity and deposit her egg in the new nest at the appropriate time.
You may have difficulty in spotting female Brown-headed Cowbirds. However, the male Brown-headed Cowbird is quite distinctive and easy to identify. Remember if you see a male Brown-headed Cowbird, the female is close by.
If you spot Brown-headed Cowbirds in your yard, keep a close watch on all of your nest boxes. Contact your state Wildlife Service if you see a Cowbird egg in one of your nest boxes.
Want a nest box that is virtually impervious to the elements, will last many years, and that requires almost no maintenance? How about a nest box made of PVC?
Modified all-PVC Gilbertson Bluebird nest box
The modified Gilbertson nest box in the photo above is constructed entirely of PVC material. The circular nest cavity is made of 4” diameter PVC S & D pipe. The rest of the nest box is made of rot-free PVC board. As a plus, the nest box has excellent thermal properties resulting in lower nest cavity temperatures. The PVC does not absorb radiate energy to the degree that wood or metal does.
You can add a decorative touch to the nest cavity by using stick-on decals from a craft shop. Be sure to spray the surface of the attached decal with a good quality exterior sealer also available from craft shops.
Tip: sometimes you can obtain scrap rot-free boards from contractors who use the material during construction. You may have to go to a job site or to the contractor’s storage area to pick up the scrap material. Just tell them that you are building bird houses from the scrap.
Blue Bird Shepherd
Just when you think you understand bluebirds, they throw you a curve ball. In this case, four curve balls. The bluebird couple are now working on the 4th nest of the current nesting cycle. The first completed nest was built in a Home-For-Bluebirds nest box in our neighbor’s front yard. For some reason, the nest was abandoned before any eggs were laid. The second complete nest was built in a Gilbertson style nest box in our yard near the back door. That nest was abandoned before any eggs were laid. The third complete nest was built in a standard wood nest box in our back yard. That nest box was abandoned before any eggs were laid. The fourth nest is currently under construction in the nest camera box in our back yard.
The reason for the vacillation between nest boxes is a bit of a mystery. The female bluebird is very young. This may be her first nesting cycle. Whatever the reason, she has been working very hard the last few days building nests. Hopefully, this nest will be the one and we’ll see some blue eggs in the next few days.
YouTube video of male bluebird trying to feed female bluebird
YouTube video of female building nest in nest camera box
Sizing up the job!
Contemplating the next move!
The bluebirds selected the modified Gilbertson nest box over the nest camera box. The nest in the Gilbertson is ready to go. Bluebirds can build a complete nest in a Gilbertson nest box in a couple of hours including the lining. We should be seeing some blue eggs within the next couple of days.
“The winner” – modified Gilbertson nest box.
Bluebird nest in Gilbertson nest box
“The loser” – nest camera box.
A bluebird couple started investigating nest boxes in the back yard. They put a small amount of pine straw in two of the boxes one of which is nest camera box #2. Bluebirds sometimes have trouble making their minds up which nest box to select and may even spend several days vacillating between boxes. This indecision is usually associated with a young female who has never built a nest before. It will be interesting to see which box they select.
Male Bluebird inspecting the nest camera box
Young female bluebird inspecting the nest camera box