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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I anticipated when this male Eastern Bluebird would leave his perch,

and hit the button just as he left. Thanks to my Canon 1D Mark IV, with it's fast 10 frames per second speed, for the flight photo.

He paused on this perch,

and took a moment to preen and scratch. Can you believe the way he has his foot coming up behind his wing to scratch the back of his head? Maybe he does yoga.

We have a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out our bird houses. The male sings and defends the territory. The other day, there was a distant male singing, so "our" male sang even more and vigilantly went from perch to perch, not minding me, and I was able to get the above photos. A second female showed up and landed near our pair. The two females fought and fell to the ground, while the male looked on and watched. The second female then flew away. Rivalry for mates and nesting spots is at an intense level now. Our pair has not chosen a box yet. They better decide soon, as Tree Swallows will arrive in large numbers and compete with the bluebirds for nest boxes.

We have been attracting bluebirds to our various properties for over 25 years and have written extensively about and educated people on bluebirds.

Here are some tips and resources to get started.

Bluebirds can be found throughout most of the country and are easy to attract with the right nest box placed in the right habitat. There are three species of bluebirds in North America. The Eastern Bluebird lives throughout the East. The Western and Mountain Bluebirds live throughout most of the West.

Step 1. Choose a nest box that is made of wood, has no perch, and has a 1 1/2-inch-diameter hole for Eastern and Western Bluebirds. For Mountain Bluebirds choose a nest box with a 1 9/16-inch-diameter hole (Western Bluebirds will also use this box in areas where the two species overlap). The box should preferably have drainage holes in the bottom and ventilation holes at the top of the sides. The diameter of the floor should be approximately 4 by 4 inches for Eastern Bluebirds and 5 by 5 inches for Mountain and Western Bluebirds.

Step 2. Place the box in open, mowed habitat at least 100 feet from brushy wooded areas. Good areas are large lawns, open fields, farmland, pastureland, and parks. If you do not have this type of habitat then you might work with a friend who does have the right habitat and establish a bluebird trail there. Mount the nest box about 4 to 5 feet high on a metal pole, facing any direction. You can also use a garden U-post. Use a baffle, or place a 4-foot length of 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe on the pole or post which will keep predators from climbing to the box. Make sure and put a cap on the top of the PVC pipe to prevent bluebirds from entering it. A "trail" consists of several boxes placed 100 yards apart. Put boxes up by early spring, before nesting starts.

For more information see,
The North American bluebird Society website here.
Stokes Bluebird Book, available here.


amy barbe said...

Time to buy some meal worms!

Beautiful pictures; we have 5 eggs in our bluebird box here in NE Georgia.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that first picture.It just does not get any better.

Ellen said...

Beautiful photos!