Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bluebird Update

Here is a picture of the male bluebird on top of my front yard nest box with a nice tasty green katydid for his babies.

The babies are 17 days old today. They should fledge (leave the nest) at usually 19-21 days old. We will be watching closely to catch the action this week.

About a week ago I had some technical difficulties! After a very hard rain the camera ceased to work. When I turned it on one morning it had static and no picture. I found that the cable which had been running from the box to the TV along the outside of my house had some damage from what appeared to be rodent bites. I am guessing that a mouse was chewing on the plastic coating of the cable. I spent several hours trying to isolate the problem with no success. I gave up and did something else around the house for a couple of hours and when I turned the camera back on to resume my trouble shooting I found it to be working again. I am guessing that the camera got wet somehow and then dried out in my house when I brought it in to work on it.

I decided not to reinstall it for a couple of reasons. First, the babies were 11 or 12 days old by that time and you cannot open the box at 12 days or they might jump out prematurely. But also because they were beginning to fill the screen as they got bigger. It was getting hard to see more than one or two babies because of their size and closeness to the camera. Plus, another bluebird box in the backyard had 3 eggs in it and I was going to mount the camera in that box.

I am not sure what was going on in the box in the backyard. Several weeks ago a pair built a nest and then laid no eggs in it after 2 weeks. I cleaned out the nest. Then within 2 days they built a 2nd nest and laid 3 eggs in it but stopped there and didn't appear to sit on that nest. After another week of no visible activity, a raccoon got into the box one night and pulled out the nest and probably ate the 3 eggs. I think I had the predator guard too low on the pole and the raccoon might have been able to reach the top of the guard and pull himself up to then reach in through the opening and pull out the nest and eggs. I am sure that it is the same raccoon that did the same to my neighbors box. I will be live trapping that raccoon soon and relocating him to a territory 5-10 miles from here. I am just hoping that the box in the front yard with the 4 babies isn't found by Mr. Raccoon before they fledge.

My friend Gary has a bluebird box that fledged 5 babies a few weeks ago. The bluebirds had built a 2nd nest and laid at least one egg. However that egg is now missing. Gary doesn't have a predator guard and we suspect a blacksnake got the egg or eggs. Gary has seen blacksnakes in the vicinity. He will be installing protection to see if the birds can regroup and lay some more eggs. I will keep you informed.

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