Secure Shopping





Bluebird Houses
Eastern Bluebird House
Mountain Bluebird House
Western Bluebird House
Sparrow-resistant Bluebird House
Observation Bluebird House
Peterson Bluebird House
Backyard Bird House


Western Bluebird
During the last 60 years, bluebird numbers have decreased 90 percent in the eastern United States. There are four reasons for the decline:
* The widespread use of insecticides decreases food supplies.
* Severe winters increase winter mortality.
* Changing agricultural practices create well-trimmed orchards with no cavity trees for nest sites.
* House Sparrows competing for remaining nest sites make nesting even more difficult.

Finding suitable nest sites is perhaps the most severe problem the bluebird faces today. Allowing trees to mature and develop natural cavities takes too long. A much quicker solution is to provide man-made wooden bird houses. When bluebird houses are placed in good areas, bluebird populations increase rapidly.

Put bluebird houses up by the end of February in areas around open fields, pastures, golf courses, cemeteries, gardens and large lawns which provide excellent bluebird habitat. These areas usually provide plenty of insects to eat. Avoid areas where insecticides are used heavily for two reasons:

* Insects, a favorite bluebird food, are reduced, and the birds have trouble finding enough to eat.
* The insects left are usually covered with insecticide. Bluebirds may be poisoned when they eat these insects.

Place houses 4 to 6 feet above the ground and 50 to 100 yards apart. Face the houses to the south or southeast, if possible. Try to select places where trees, shrubs, utility wires or fences are within 25 to 100 feet of the houses. Bluebirds use these structures for perches when feeding. These perches are also helpful to young birds during their first flights.

If houses are located near woods and brush piles, other species of birds, such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and wrens, will use the bluebird houses. These species, like the bluebird, are welcome additions to the area and should not be discouraged from using the bird house. These birds are also helpful in controlling insect populations. It may be possible to get a bluebird to nest in the same area by placing another house about 10 to 20 feet from the one the other bird is using.


North American Bluebird Society Approved

Eastern Bluebird House Eastern Bluebird House
Regular $33.95
Sale Price: $29.95
  Mountain Bluebird House Mountain Bluebird House
Regular $36.95
Sale Price: $32.95
  Western Bluebird House Western Bluebird House
Regular $36.95
Sale Price: $32.95
               
Sparrow-resistant Bluebird House Sparrow-resistant Bluebird House
Regular $33.95
Sale Price: $29.95
  Observation Bluebird House Observation Bluebird House
Regular $37.95
Sale Price: $33.95
  Slant-Front Bluebird House Slant-Front Bluebird House
Regular $38.95
Sale Price: $34.95
               
Backyard Bird House Backyard Bird House
Regular $36.95
Sale Price: $32.95
  Bluebird House with Camera Bluebird House with Video Camera
Regular $159.95
Sale Price: $149.95
     




Coveside Bird House Features





Eastern BluebirdEastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebirds are sexually dimorphic; that is, males and females look quite different. Males have bright blue heads, tails, backs, and wings. The sides, flanks, and throat are chestnut red.The underparts are also chestnut red from the chin down to the belly, but the belly is white.

Although there is much variation in their plumage, females are generally less colorful than males. They have light gray-blue heads, dull brown backs, and blue tails and wings. There is a slight white ring around the eye. In winter, the female's upper breast turns a pale reddish-brown.

Eastern Bluebirds can be found east of the Rockies, throughout the eastern United States and Canada, and down to central Mexico. Some populations are year-round residents, but others migrate to more southerly latitudes for the winter. Eastern Bluebirds are found in suburban and rural habitats containing sparse vegetation and scattered trees or other perches. They typically nest in fields, meadows, and orchards, avoiding both densely wooded and congested residential areas. Eastern Bluebirds prefer open sunny habitats, such as meadows, farm fields, lawns, and pastures, with short vegetation.

Eastern Bluebird Range Map
Eastern Bluebirds eat a variety of invertebrates, including caterpillars, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, katydids, and spiders. They also feed on wild fruits. Primarily ground feeders, they prefer feeding and nesting in areas with short, sparse vegetation, which affords a clear view of ground-dwelling insects.

Eastern Bluebirds are monogamous. Pairs generally stay together throughout the breeding season, and pairs may breed together for more than one season. Some birds, however, may switch mates during a breeding season to raise a second brood. Both sexes defend territories; however, the males tend to defend territory edges while the females primarily defend the nest site.

The breeding season begins anytime from mid-March to early April. The male initiates selecting the nest site by "showing" the female several possible sites. The female may begin to build nests in several sites, but eventually she decides on a site and concentrates her efforts there. It usually takes four to six days to build the nest, but this varies with the time of season, weather, and the age and experience of the breeding pair. The nests, which are built in woodpecker holes, dead or rotting trees, and in nest boxes, are composed mainly of dry grasses, rootlets, and weed stems. Some nests are built entirely of pine needles. The cup is usually lined with fine grasses, rarely with hair and fur. Males may carry nest material to the nest, but they do not participate in the actual building of the nest. Rather, they spend much time guarding their mates during this time to prevent them from mating with other males.

Eggs can be laid as early as late March or as late as early June, depending upon the weather and latitude. Females may begin to lay eggs one or two days after the nest is completed, but some females wait a week or more. One egg is laid each day, in the morning. The average clutch has three to five eggs but as many as seven have been reported. Clutch sizes tend to be smaller for younger females and for second broods of the breeding season. The eggs are smooth and glossy and are sky blue or white in color. Because all eggs laid by a single female are the same color, the presence of an odd-colored egg in a clutch may indicate that another female has laid her egg in the nest, a practice known as egg dumping.

Eggs can remain un-incubated for awhile and still be viable; however, once incubation begins, it must be continuous. Females generally begin to incubate the day the last egg is laid. The incubation period is 12 to 14 days but can be longer in the case of extreme or prolonged cold weather.

Nestlings hatch within one or two days of each other, and the female broods the nestlings for a few days. Both adults tend the young. The nestlings begin to thermoregulate, or regulate their own body temperatures, when they are about six days old, and females then decrease the amount of time they spend brooding. Nevertheless, the females may continue to brood at night during cold weather. The young leave the nest after 16 to 22 days, but they remain dependent upon their parents for food and protection for three to four weeks.

Eastern Bluebirds raise two broods per season. Pairs may build their second nests on top of the first nest, or they may nest in an entirely new site. The male continues to tend the fledged young while the female begins to re-nest. Young from the first brood will reportedly help raise siblings from the second brood.

Families flock together until fall, when they merge with other family flocks. Some, but not all, bluebirds residing in the northern portions of the range migrate to southern latitudes, but those residing in southern latitudes tend to be residential. Adults tend to return to the same breeding territory year after year, but only a small percentage (three to five percent) of young birds return to their natal area to breed.




Mountain BluebirdMountain Bluebird
Unlike other bluebird species, male Mountain Bluebirds have no chestnut red on their bodies. The head, back, wings, and tail are a bright sky blue. Males are light blue from the chin to the belly, and grayish-white on the belly and undertail coverts.

Females have brownish gray upperparts. The wings, rump, and tail are a pale or light blue. Females sometimes have a pale reddish throat and breast, but more commonly, the throat and breast are gray brown.

Juveniles look like adult females, but they are darker and less colorful. Their breasts and sides are streaked with brown.

Mountain Bluebirds are found in the western parts of Canada and the United States. They are found at elevations above 5,000 feet, and they nest in open areas such as meadows, hayfields, grain fields, savannas, prairies, clear cuts, and the edges of coniferous and deciduous forests.

Mountain Bluebird Range Map
Mountain Bluebirds feed on a variety of insects, including beetles, weevils, ants, wasps, cicadas, flies, grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets. Unlike their eastern or western relatives, Mountain Bluebirds rarely eat seeds or berries. Mountain Bluebirds also differ from other bluebirds in that they often hover while foraging.

Males return to the breeding grounds before the females and establish territories. This happens in late March in the south but not until early April in the north. Females arrive several days to a few weeks later. Initially, pairs aggressively defend a large area around their nest site, but as the breeding season progresses, the size of the defended area decreases and becomes more localized around the nest. Mountain Bluebirds defend territories against others of their own species, or conspecifics, as well as against other bluebird species in areas where their breeding ranges overlap.

Mountain Bluebirds are basically monogamous. But, as with other bluebirds, both males and females sneak copulations with individuals that are not their mates. For this reason, males guard their mates, from the time a pair forms until the female lays her eggs. Pairs typically stay together throughout the season; however, individuals that have had an unsuccessful first nesting attempt may find a new mate for the rest of the breeding season. Some pairs mate for more than one breeding season. As in many species, the fact that many pairs mate with each other year after year probably reflects a male and female fidelity to a particular breeding site rather than to one another.

Mountain Bluebirds are solitary nesters, but pairs may nest in close proximity to others, depending on nest site availability. The beginning of the breeding season varies with latitude; birds in the southern portion of the range begin in early April, birds in northern latitudes begin in late May. The female chooses a nest site, which can be any natural cavity, abandoned woodpecker hole, cliff crevice, or nest box. Like other bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds compete with House Sparrows and European Starlings for nest sites.

Only the female builds the nest, and it takes her anywhere from a few days to over a week to complete. Working most diligently in the morning, she constructs the nest of grass, weed stems, pine needles, twigs, rootlets, bark, and, sometimes, wool, hair, or feathers. Males are very attentive to their females during the nest-building period and spend most of their energy guarding their mates. Occasionally, they carry nest material to the cavity, but they are not known to actually weave it into the nest.

The first eggs are laid between late April and early May. Females lay one egg per day until the clutch is complete. The average clutch size is five to six eggs, but there can be as few as four or as many as eight. The eggs are smooth, glossy, unmarked, and are pale blue, bluish-white, or, rarely, white. Because all eggs laid by a female are the same color, any odd-colored eggs in a clutch indicates that another female has laid an egg in that nest, a behavior known as egg dumping.

While some sources report that both sexes incubate, incubation is mainly done by the female. Incubation begins when the next-to-last or the last egg is laid and lasts 13 to 14 days. Males often feed their mates during this period, and they continue to do so after the eggs hatch.

The female broods the nestlings for about a week after they hatch. The male does most of the feeding during that time. When the female ceases her daytime brooding and begins to brood only at night, both sexes start feeding the young equally. The nestlings fledge after 17 to 22 days. Initially, they are sedentary and depend heavily upon their parents for food and protection; however, as they mature, they begin to follow the parents around and actively solicit feedings. The male continues to care for the fledged young when the female begins to re-nest. After three to four weeks, the young are independent.

If a nesting attempt fails, Mountain Bluebirds will renest. They usually raise two broods in a breeding season. The fledged young may assist their parents in raising the next brood, but this behavior is considered rare.

Mountain Bluebirds reuse old nest sites both within a breeding season and in successive breeding seasons. Pairs that successfully raise a brood in a nest box may become faithful to that particular type of nest box. First-year breeding birds tend to nest in boxes identical to their natal box.

Families form flocks in late summer and merge with other family flocks as the season progresses. Juveniles that fledged early in the season and adults that bred unsuccessfully during the summer also join these flocks. It has not been determined whether the birds stay together in these flocks throughout migration or on their wintering grounds.

Mountain Bluebirds are the most migratory of the three bluebird species. Birds in the northern portion of the range begin to migrate sooner than those living in the southern portion. Mountain Bluebirds migrate to the southern United States and central Mexico, where they inhabit open lowlands, deserts, plains, and grasslands.




Western BluebirdWestern Bluebird
Western Bluebirds are similar in appearance to Eastern Bluebirds. The western species can be distinguished from its eastern relative by the sky blue color of the chin, throat, wings, and tail. Western Bluebirds also have chestnut-red breasts, flanks, and shoulders. In some birds, the back is partially or entirely blue. The belly and undertail coverts are blue gray.

Female Western Bluebirds are less colorful than males. They have a brownish gray head and back, light blue wings and tail, and grayish white throat, belly, and undertail coverts. The breast is a pale rust. The females also have a dull white eye ring.

Western Bluebirds can be found in the Southwest and all along the West Coast of the United States. This species is generally residential but moves to lower elevations for the winter months. Western Bluebirds breed in open habitats with scattered trees, such as farmland, orchards, and the edges of open coniferous and deciduous forests.

Western Bluebird Range Map
Western Bluebirds feast on a variety of invertebrates, including caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, and snails. In winter, their diet includes wild berries.

The breeding biology of the Western Bluebird is similar to that of the Eastern Bluebird. Their breeding season can begin anytime from early April to early May. Females build their nests in the natural cavities of snags or rotting trees, in woodpecker holes, or in nest boxes. These nests can be anywhere from 4 to 40 feet above the ground. The nest is a loose collection of grasses, weed stems, and, sometimes, hair and feathers.

Females usually lay four to six eggs in a clutch, but clutches can range from three to eight eggs. The unmarked eggs are pale blue, bluish-white, or white in color.

Only the female incubates the eggs, for a period of 13 to 14 days.

Both adults tend the young, feeding them mostly soft-bodied insects. After 19 to 22 days, the young fledge, but they don't reach full independence for three to four weeks. The male may continue to care for the young by himself while the female begins to renest.

This species is believed to raise two broods per breeding season.

Like Eastern Bluebirds, some populations of Western Bluebirds migrate to southern latitudes for the winter months, while other populations are residential. Nevertheless, even residential individuals move to lower elevations in winter.




Mountain BluebirdMonitoring Bluebird Houses
It is very important that bluebird houses be actively monitored (checked) at least once a week. Doing so increases the chances of success for bluebirds using the bluebird house and also is valuable for determining population trends. A bluebird house that is not monitored may be more harmful than helpful to bluebirds. All bluebird houses should be built so that they can be opened either from the side, front, or top.

Monitoring bluebird house will alert you to problems the birds may be having with blowfly parasitism. Uncontrolled, the larvae of this species may weaken or possibly even kill the nestling bluebirds. If you identify larvae in the nest, you should replace all the nest material with dried lawn clippings in a shape similar to that of the original nest. This will increase the chance that the chicks will survive. Many bluebird enthusiasts replace all nests holding chicks periodically even before the blowfly larvae are visible. You should also replace any nest with young birds that has been saturated following rainfall. This is especially important during cold periods.

Being aware of what species is using the bluebird house is also beneficial. Bluebird societies would like you to monitor and report all species using your bluebird houses, not just bluebirds. Species such as bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, and chickadees are all native and beneficial birds. Mail survey forms submitted at the end of the nesting season allows the identification of population trends in each species.

House (English) sparrows and European starlings are non-native species introduced from Europe and their aggressive seizure of cavity nest sites is the main reason for the rarity of bluebirds today. Starlings nest in many of the natural nest sites but can be excluded from bluebird houses by only using 1 1/2 or 1 9/16 inch entrance holes. House sparrows can readily enter bluebird houses and frequently kill bluebirds, destroy their eggs, or drive them from their nests. At no time should they be allowed to successfully nest in bluebird houses. Doing so will increase the house sparrow population and further reduce the number of the bluebirds.

After any nesting effort has ended, either due to nest failure or successful fledging of the young, the nest should be removed from the bluebird house. If a bluebird nest was successful, re-nesting in the same bluebird house will be encouraged if the first nest is removed. This should be done when all chicks have left the nest.

WHAT TO MONITOR
Whenever you monitor a bluebird house you should determine what species is using it by examining the nesting material and eggs. You should record the date, and the number of eggs or young that you have observed. Knowing when the eggs where laid will help you determine if they are infertile, or when they should hatch and when the young would be expected to leave the nest. In the case of bluebirds, the eggs are laid one each day until the entire clutch is complete. Incubation will then begin and will last approximately 13-14 days. After hatching the chicks will remain in the nest for 17-18 days. Your monitoring should be limited to viewing from a distance after the 13th day or the chicks might fly from the box prematurely.

HOW TO MONITOR
Nest monitoring should only be done during calm, mild, and dry weather conditions to reduce the chance of chilling the chicks or eggs. Open the bluebird house being careful not to allow the eggs to fall out or chicks to jump out. Songbirds have a very poor sense of smell and will not abandon the nest due to your handling the nest, eggs, or chicks. If chicks are in the nest, look under the nest for signs of blowfly larvae. The chicks themselves should be examined for small scars, particularly under the wings which indicates blowfly parasitism. Sometimes you may observe the larvae attached to the chick. These are easily removed by hand. Complete the monitoring as quickly as possible to minimize disturbance. When handling the chicks or removing them from the nest they should be placed in something that will protect them from the sun or wind while preventing their escape. Avoid disposing used nest material near the nest site or predators may be attracted to the site. Always be certain to close the bluebird house door securely before leaving. Record what you observed.

HOW TO IDENTIFY NESTS AND EGGS BY SPECIES
Bluebird: The 1-4 in. tall nest is built with fine grasses or pine needles with a fairly deep nest cup. Eggs (4-6) are powder blue or occasionally white.

Tree swallow: Their nest is also made of grasses but they may use somewhat coarser fibers than a bluebird. The nest generally has a flatter cup than the bluebird's and is usually lined with feathers or occasionally scraps of paper. Eggs (5-7) are white and smaller than those of a bluebird.

House wren: Wrens fill a bluebird house with sticks and line the deep nest cup with fine plant fibers or feathers. "Dummy nests" without the nest cup are often built in all other cavities within the male wren's territory to reduce competition for resources. The eggs (6-8) are tan, speckled with brown and quite small.

Black-capped chickadee: Chickadees build a nest of moss and plant down with the nest cup lined with hair. They lay 5-8 white eggs covered with brown speckles. Eggs are often covered with moss when the female leaves the box.

House sparrow: House sparrows build a tall nest of coarse grasses, often with pieces of scrap paper, cellophane, or other garbage. The nest forms a canopy with a tunnel-like entrance to the 5-7 cream-colored eggs with brown markings.




Mountain BluebirdBluebird House Predator Control
Putting up a bluebird house is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. When you put up a bluebird house, a commitment is made to provide as safe as possible place for the bluebirds to raise their young. If this commitment is taken seriously, both you and the bluebirds will be rewarded.

Bluebirding is a great hands-on project but, from time to time, problems may arise on your trail. Common problems on a bluebird trail include the weather, house sparrows, house wrens, and predators such as raccoons. We cannot control the weather, and sparrows and wrens may prove to be difficult, but losses due to raccoons can and should be controlled. Proper bluebird house placement can be a factor in raccoon predation. Bluebird houses placed in pastureland are less likely to attract raccoons than houses placed near a wooded area with a stream, pond, or lake nearby.

There are two definite lines of defense against raccoons. The best way is to keep the raccoon off the house. The second is to prevent the raccoon from reaching into the house once it gets in a position to try.

There are many ways to predator-proof a bluebird house. Here are some methods used by experienced bluebirders.


MOUNTING SYSTEMS
The easiest way to mount a bluebird house would be to nail it to a wooden fence post or to a tree. Although this may work well in certain parts of North America where there are few raccoons, it is generally not recommended. Raccoons climb trees and walk fence lines where they may eventually find your bluebird house. Taking the time to properly mount your bluebird houses, may take care of your raccoon problems.

A smooth clean pipe is the best mounting system to use. A 10 foot piece of 3/4 inch EMT electrical conduit pipe can be purchased for a reasonable price. It will then need to be cut down to a length of approximately 8 feet, to place 2 feet of pipe in the ground and 6 feet of pipe above. The electrical conduit is zinc plated and will keep its slick surface for many years. Other heavy round pipe will also work well. Scrap pipe found at construction sites and salvage yards can also be used. An excellent source of pipe is from overhead garage door companies. In their scrap piles from discarded doors you will find either an 8 foot or 16 foot piece of 1 inch pipe.

Most businesses will be glad to give them to you. If they are rusty, they should be sanded smooth. Flattening the bottom of the pipe with a heavy hammer will help stabilize the pipe and keep it from turning. A fence post driver is recommended over a heavy hammer for putting the pipe in the ground. There are several easy ways to mount a bluebird house to the pole:

Pre-drill two 5/16 inch holes through both the conduit or pipe and the back of the bluebird house. Use 1/4 inch bolts for anchoring the bluebird house to the pole. The drilling can be done before placement in the field.

OR

Wrap two pieces of pipe strap around the pole and screw into the back of the bluebird house on either side of the pole. Secure another small piece of pipe strap to the back top and bend it down into the pole to keep the bluebird house from turning.

OR

Place two electrical conduit hangers around the pole and screw into the bluebird house.

A method that works well for mounting lightweight bluebird houses (i.e., PVC boxes) is the use of a 5 foot piece of 1/2 inch electrical conduit slipped over a 5 foot piece of rebar driven approximately 2 feet into the ground. A conduit connector (with a longer bottom screw) at the base is used to keep the conduit from turning.

A bluebird house may also be mounted on PVC pipe. Some 2 inch PVC pipe will slip over a metal T-post, which makes a secure system when your box is located in a pasture with cattle. Mount your bluebird house high enough on the PVC so that the cattle will not have any sharp corners to rub against.

Down spouts can also be used. A 10 foot length of down spout can be cut into three 3 foot 4 inch pieces, which is attached to the back of the bluebird house. This can then be slipped over a metal T-post.

By using the above methods, raccoon predation will be greatly minimized. For added protection, substances can be applied to the pole. Rub the pole down will steel wool and apply a layer of Carnauba car wax or silicone spray. Another effective method is to apply a coating of high quality automotive grease to the pole. A mixture of 5 pounds of grease and one quart of turpentine will keep the grease soft throughout the season. Grease will eventually attract dirt and harden which may make it easier for a raccoon to climb the pole. The grease may have to be removed and reapplied if this happens. This is extra work, but it is the most effective way to keep raccoons off the pole.


POLE GUARDS
Some bluebirders prefer using a guard on the pole or post their bluebird house is mounted on.


Similar preventative methods apply to snakes and cats. Snakes can climb smooth poles, even greased ones. Snakes are more of a common problem in the southern states but some snake problems may occur all across North America. The stove pipe and cone guards are effective for snake control. Also effective is a 24 inch piece of hardware cloth placed directly under the bluebird house.

Both domestic and feral cats pose a threat to bluebirds. The hanging guards mentioned may detour a cat but they may jump as high as 6 feet. If cats are in your area, place your bluebird house as high as possible on a smooth pole.

Please do not let the possibility of predation problems discourage you from putting up a bluebird house. Mounting your bluebird house on a smooth round pipe will greatly reduce the chance of a loss to a predator. Any other preventative measures taken will provide added protection
.




Mountain BluebirdHouse Sparrow Control 

House Sparrows
House Sparrows are the most abundant songbirds in North America and the most widely distributed birds on the planet. House Sparrows are not actually sparrows, but are Old World Weaver Finches, a family of birds noted for their ingenious nest-building abilities.

History
House Sparrows were introduced into North America from England in the 1850s on the mistaken premise that they would help reduce crop insect pests. At first, the new immigrants welcomed this little bird of their homeland. Within 25 years, however, they realized the seriousness of their mistake: the House Sparrow population had increased at an explosive and alarming rate, and the birds were causing extensive damage to crops and fruit trees. They were also taking over the nesting sites of native cavity-nesting birds.

Life & Habits
The breeding season for House Sparrows begins early in the spring or even in midwinter, and each pair may produce up to four broods a season. The male House Sparrow's bond with his nest site is stronger than his bond with a mate - he may lose a mate, but he won't give up his nest site. Although they usually prefer to nest in a cavity, House Sparrows will settle for any nook or cranny they can find. They will also occasionally nest in coniferous trees and in the nests of Cliff Swallows and Northern Orioles.

The male constructs a bulky, dome-shaped nest of coarse grasses, weeds, hair, and feathers. The female lays three to five white/brown speckled eggs and incubates for 11-14 days. The young sparrows fledge after 14-16 days. They are not migratory, but flocks of birds move about within a 1.5-2mi. area. House Sparrows are primarily seed-eaters, although they eat some insects during the summer. They will also dine on garbage. Feedlots and farmsteads are particularly attractive to sparrows as they provide an abundant source of food, as well as shelter and plenty of nesting sites.

Sparrow Control on a Bluebird Trail
Control of sparrows on a bluebird trail can be either PASSIVE (taking preventative measure when placing the bluebird house to deter sparrow use) or AGGRESSIVE (taking measures after the bluebird house is in place and sparrows are using it).


PASSIVE CONTROL

1. Bluebird House Location
Bluebird house location is the most crucial factor in controlling sparrows on a bluebird trail. The House Sparrow's Latin name, Passer domesticus, aptly describes its preferred nesting habits - around houses. Avoid placing bluebird houses near farmsteads, feedlots, barns, old out-buildings, etc. Bluebird houses placed in or around villages, towns or cities will likely be claimed by House Sparrows. If sparrows do take up residence, one option is to relocate the bluebird house to a site farther away from human occupation.

Sparrows may avoid a nesting site if the bluebird house is placed too low to the ground (3 to 5 feet). However, since bluebird houses placed this low run the risk of being predated by raccoons, cats, or other climbing predators this is a feasible option where there are no climbing predators.

2. Plugging the Entrance Hole
Plugging the entrance hole of a bluebird house taken over by sparrows will prevent the male from using that specific bluebird house, and might even encourage him to move elsewhere. Some bluebird trail operators plug the entrance hole at the end of the nesting season and leave it plugged until the bluebirds arrive in the spring. This will prevent sparrows from roosting in the bluebird house during the winter, and then staking an early claim in the spring.

3. Use a Sparrow-resistant Bluebird House
According to research at the University of Kentucky, bluebirds prefer a slot entrance to the standard circular hole -- sparrows prefer the opposite. In addition, sparrows don't like a shallow box and bluebirds don't seem to mind. This box is only 5" deep but if sparrows still continue to be a problem, a wooden insert is included to reduce the depth even more. Sparrows rarely use the 3-1/2" depth, but bluebirds will still occupy it.


4. Eliminating Feeding Areas, Roosting & Nesting Sites
Problems on a bluebird house trail can be reduced if the overall, local House Sparrow population can be reduced. This can be achieved by taking control measures at bird feeding stations (use of sparrow-proof feeders; avoiding cheap, mixed bird seed that contains a high percentage of filler grains, such as milo, millet or cracked corn; or use of monofilament line around seed feeders), as well as sealing up all potential winter roosting and summer nesting sites.


AGGRESSIVE CONTROL

1. Regular Monitoring
Regular bluebird house monitoring is the most effective way to control House Sparrows. If sparrow nests are regularly removed, no young will fledge from the bluebird house. However, the male will tenaciously defend his bluebird house, and will usually keep rebuilding his nest. He will also drive off any other bird that might express an interest in the bluebird house. Therefore, it is important to eliminate the male. This is usually accomplished using an in-box trap.

2. In-box Trapping
Two traps that work well are the basic Huber-style and the Gilbertson universal trap.

Do not set a in-box trap until a sparrow has laid claim to that bluebird house. Once he has claimed it, he will not allow any other species inside. The male sparrow will be more likely to enter the bluebird house if a small amount of nesting material is left in the bottom or tucked in the entrance hole. However, be careful that the nesting material does not interfere with the trap. The trap must be checked at least every two hours because there is the remote possibility that a bluebird or other native cavity-nester may have entered the bluebird house.

To remove a trapped House Sparrow from a bluebird house, place a clear garbage bag over the entire box and remove the trap with the bag still over the bluebird house. Once the trap is removed, the sparrow will fly into the bag. This is a much easier method than trying to reach into the bluebird house and catch the sparrow by hand.

Since House Sparrows are classified as pests and are not protected by federal law, they should be quickly and humanely dispatched as soon as they are captured. Do not consider relocating the bird, as this just relocates the problem. The dead sparrows can be frozen and given to raptor recovery centers to feed their injured raptors.

3. Multi-bird Trapping
There are several ways to trap a large number of birds

A. Ground Traps: These traps are easy to construct, and can hold a large number of birds. Approximately 10 birds should be kept in the cage trap at all times to act as decoys. These decoys can be attracted into the trap by baiting them with white feathers, grain, bread scraps, white proso millet, mixed bird seed or cracked corn in it. A small mirror placed in the bait compartment of the trap helps to lure the sparrow in. Food, water, and shelter must be provided at all times. Since sparrows are gregarious, the success of cage traps depends on the birds being attracted to the food and to each other. For this reason, the trap works least effectively in areas with a high initial population. Used continuously once the population is under control, its effectiveness, though varied throughout the course of the year, is usually consistent. These traps are especially effective during the winter, and when juvenile birds are abundant in mid summer.

B. Cage Traps: Basically, these consist of nest boxes atop a wire cage. The nest box has as hinged floor, which tips the bird down into the cage below.

C. Drop traps, which simply drop down over a flock of feeding sparrows, can also be used once the sparrows are coming into an area regularly to feed.

D. The Cedar Valley Live Trap: This is a repeatable trap that has a small "catcher" area that opens through a one-way trap door to a large holding pen. This permits the capture of a large number of birds.


IMPORTANT: All multi-bird traps must be checked daily to ensure that the trapped sparrows have adequate food, water, and shelter, and in case a native sparrow or other songbird becomes trapped. Native birds should be released immediately. The male House Sparrow is very easy to identify, but the females are quite similar to some species of native sparrows. Check a bird book if necessary.




Copyright 2014
Coveside Bird Houses