Don’t forget the peanuts!

November 29, 2007

A number of wild song birds consider peanuts a “treat” and will frequently visit peanut feeders.  If you place the feeder near a window, you will be able to take great photos of a variety of wild song birds.  Be sure to use the peanuts made for wild song birds and not the kind purchased at food stores.  The appropriate peanuts can be purchased from many stores selling wild bird song bird supplies.

Chickadee #1 11-29-2007

Chickadee #1 (11–30–2007)

click to read about Black-capped Chickadees

click to read about Carolina Chickadees

Identification question for bird watchers:  Is the bird in the photo a Carolina Chickadee or a Black-capped Chickadee?  Answer at the bottom of the article.

Titmouse #2 11-29-2007

Tufted Titmouse #1 (11–29–2007)

click to read about the Tufted Titmouse

Titmouse #1 11-29-2007

Tufted Titmouse #2 (11–29–2007)

click to read about the Tufted Titmouse

Carolina Wren #1 11-29-3007

Carolina Wren #1 (11–29–2007)

click to read about the Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren #2 11-29-2007

Carolina Wren #2 (11–29–2007)

click to read about the Carolina Wren

Timothy - Chubbles #3 12-02-2007

Timothy (left – Tufted Titmouse)  & Chubbles (right – Carolina Wren)


Answer to bird watchers identification question:  Species of Chickadees are difficult to identify unless you are an expert.  Most probably, the Chickadee in the photo is a Carolina Chickadee since the photo was taken in Piedmont North Carolina.  Carolina Chickadees generally reside in the Southeastern United States.  Black-capped Chickadees are prevelant in other parts of the United States.

Bluebird Shepherd 

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Carolina Wren for company

November 26, 2007

Place a feeder near your kitchen window and you will attract a variety of feathered visitors to keep you company.

Carolina Wren #2 11-26-2007

Carolina Wren snacking on peanuts

Carolina Wren #1 11-26-2007

Carolina Wren feasting on suet

Bluebird Shepherd 

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Three in a row!

November 23, 2007

HFBB Framed #3

We need your help to survive!

Advancing bluebird conservation through applied research and education.

View: experimental NESTCAM

Eastern bluebirds particularly enjoy warm days during winter.  They investigate nest boxes and catalog them as possible nesting sites for next nesting season.  It is very common to see the extended family together (3 or more bluebirds).  The extended family consists of the parents and some or all of their offspring from last nesting season.  The offspring will select mates and leave the extended family as part of the next nesting season.  Bluebirds never miss an opportunity to investigate nest boxes in the area for use as possible nesting sites.

Three Bluebirds in a Row 11-21-2007

Three in a row!

Three members of an extended Eastern bluebird family enjoying the sun on a warm November morning.

House Hunting 11-21-2007

Eastern bluebird “house hunting” on a warm November morning.

Note: A downy woodpecker is using this nest box (dusk to dawn) for roosting purposes.

Bluebirds need our help to survive the continuing loss of their natural habitat and food supply.  Please put up properly designed and constructed bluebird nest boxes and feeders.

The North American Bluebird Society (NABS) is an excellent organization dedicated to bluebird conservation.  Please consider joining NABS and becoming an active bluebird conservationist.

Bluebird Shepherd 

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Observe, record, and share bluebird nesting activities

November 20, 2007

Many homes are now equipped with high speed computer networks and access to broadband Internet service.  By buying or building a bluebird nest box equipped with a networked digital camera, you will be able to observe and record the entire nesting cycle of wild song birds (hopefully bluebirds) that occupy the nest box.  As a bonus, if the camera contains an embedded web server, you will be able to share nest box activities in real-time with anyone who has Internet connectivity.  Viewers can observe and record activities by accessing the camera with their web browsers.

This article is based on an experimental bluebird NESTCAM box constructed by The nest box is equipped with a Linksys WVC54GC wireless color digital camera capable of sustaining up to four concurrent Internet browser sessions.  The WVC54GC can be purchased for about $100.00 from a number of sources.  The control software supplied with the camera will simultaneously monitor and display up to four separate cameras.  The low physical profile of the camera and its transmission range of approximately 100 feet make it a suitable candidate for NESTCAM boxes.

Advancing bluebird conservation through applied research and education.

Mark I Mod 0 wireless color bluebird NESTCAM box

Color Nestcam #5 11-18-2007

 Snapshot taken with Linksys WVC-54GC wireless color camera software

Note: Date/time stamp and camera ID are superimposed by the camera

The Mark I Mod 0 NESTCAM box is a standard front opening wooden bluebird nest box with a 15–degree two-stage sloping roof.  The two-stage roof is comprised of a 3/4” thick pine board inner roof covered by an outer roof made of a section of 12” long by 8 1/4” wide Hardiplank cedar mill cement fiber siding.  The roof was designed to allow it and the attached camera to be removed and relocated to another nest box.  The idea behind this approach is to enable the camera to be quickly moved to a nest box containing a nest of interest without disturbing the nest.  The nest box is mounted on a 50–lb concrete pedestal that can be relocated as needed.

Color Nestcam #7 11-20-2007

MK I Mod 0 wireless color bluebird NESTCAM box mounted on concrete pedestal

The camera is attached to the ceiling of the nest box using a metal bracket that compensates for the 15–degree sloping roof.  The camera is centered directly over the floor.

Color Nestcam #2 11-17-2007

Linksys WVC54GC wireless digital color camera attached to nest box ceiling

The Mark I Mod 0 NESTCAM box is not artificially illuminated.  There are differences of opinion regarding the effects of artificial illumination on the birds occupying the nest box.  Some believe the artificial light negatively affects the birds while others believe the light has no effect on the birds.

Without an artificial light source, the camera operates satisfactorily from dawn until dusk even on cloudy days.


1.  Fairly cheap and easy to build

2.  Wireless with an effective range of approximately 100 feet from the network router or range expander.

3.  Can be easily relocated to other nest boxes that have been designed for rapid roof replacement.

4.  Self-contained web server supporting up to 4 concurrent web browser sessions.

5.  Enables viewers to record images for themselves.


1.  Requires 110 VAC power.

2.  Only provides images from dusk to dawn.

3.  Has no audio capability.

You can view the contents of the MK I Mod 0 NESTCAM box for a limited period of time by clicking on the link shown below.  Click on view video from the tool bar when you arrive at the Linksys web server page.

MK I Mod 0 NESTCAM box

If you would like the plans and bill-of-materials for the MK I Mod 0 wireless color bluebird NESTCAM box, please Email Bluebird Shepherd.

Bluebird Shepherd

Bluebird Nest Box Cataloging

November 11, 2007

It’s a sunny winter day and all of a sudden several bluebirds in a group start taking turns looking into all the nest boxes in your yard. If you have added white pine shavings to facilitate winter roosting, the bluebirds may start hauling the shavings out.   What are they doing? 

Don’t get your hopes up that the bluebirds are going to start building a nest in one of your nest boxes. Bluebirds go through a process of nest box “cataloging” on sunny days during the winter months.  The purpose of the cataloging phase is to identify roosting spots for the winter as well as suitable nesting sites for next nesting season.   

The bluebird group is generally comprised of last nesting season’s parenting adults and some or all of their offspring.  The group is referred to as the “extended family.”  Part of the cataloging process is to acquaint the offspring with nest box selection criteria.

Before the next nesting season, the extended family will break up and mates will be selected.  Bluebird couples become quite territorial during the nesting season when it comes to the geography around nest boxes.

Bluebirds cataloging #2 11-11-2007

Bluebirds “cataloging” nest box

Bluebirds cataloging #3 11-11-2007

Bluebirds on nest box inspection tour

Bluebirds cataloging #6 11-11-2007

Bluebird inspecting interior of nestbox

If you have questions regarding bluebird conservation, Email

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Bluebird Shepherd

Share wild song bird activity with others

November 9, 2007

Sharing the activities of wild song birds in your yard with others has become a relatively simple task especially if you have a wireless network with Internet access.

A number of companies offer wireless color cameras equipped with embedded web servers.  By hooking up one or more cameras to your network and enabling them to be accessed from the Internet, you can easily provide real-time images of wild bird activity in your yard.

We currently have one camera ( pointing through the kitchen window at a feeder array.  Real-time images of birds feeding at the array are available for viewing anywhere in the world via the Internet.  Most of the web servers supplied with the cameras allow viewers to take snap shots of the images and store them.  The camera has an effective range of appoximately 150’ from the wireless router.  A range expander can be added to extend the range.

Wireless Camera #1

Linksys MVC54GC wireless color camera


Snapshot image captured by Linksys MVC54GC wireless color camera

Northern Mocking Bird

Northern Mockingbird visiting feeder array

House Finch

House Finch visiting feeder array

Wren Eating Suet

Carolina Wren eating suet at the feeder array

Titmouse getting water

Titmouse getting water at the feeder array

American Goldfinch Thistle Feeding Frenzy

American Goldfinch thistle frenzy at the feeder array

Please share the wild song bird activity in your yards with others.  If you would like information on how to setup wireless internet cameras, Email  Please put WIRELESS INTERNET CAMERA in the subject line.

If you would like to receive copies of new postings by Email powered by FEEDBLITZ, please send an Email message to Please put FEEDBLITZ in the subject line.  Be sure to enable your Email system to receive messages from

Bluebird Shepherd

Provide for the larger woodpeckers in your area

November 7, 2007

Most wild song bird enthusiasts put up one or more nest boxes suitable for occupancy by small to medium wild song birds.  Unfortunately, very few put up nest boxes suitable for larger woodpeckers such as Red-bellied and Northern Flickers.  As more and more land is cleared and housing developments are built, the number of nesting sites suitable for woodpeckers is rapidly declining. 

You can help save our larger woodpeckers!  Find a spot in your yard and put up a nest box  suitable for larger woodpeckers.  Be sure to put out plenty of suet.  Large woodpeckers eat lots of suet.

Northern Flicker 03-05-2006

Northern Flicker on suet cake

Northern Flicker #2 02-12-2006

Red-bellied Woodpecker on suet cake

There are a number of web sites that post nest box dimensions for different wild song birds including woodpeckers.  The address for a web site containing bird house dimensions is shown below.

I recommend mounting nest boxes for larger woodpeckers 10–15’ above ground.  Be sure to pack the nest box with unscented pine shavings.  DO NOT USE CEDAR SHAVINGS.  You can buy unscented pine shavings (animal bedding) from Wal-Mart. Packing the nest box with pine shavings will discourage other species of birds from selecting the nest box.  Woodpeckers enjoy excavating and will make short work of the shavings when they select the nest box.  You will enjoy watching the “snow storm” of wood chips flying from the nest box.

Woodpecker #2

Large woodpecker nest box mounted 12’ above ground

Fabio 05-23-2005Northern “Fabio – the Northern Flicker” peering out of nest box

Fabio the Flicker #1

“Fabio – the Northern Flicker” preening and drumming for a mate.

If you have questions about providing for large woodpeckers, Email  Please put LARGE WOODPECKERS in the subject line.

Bluebird Shepherd