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Friday, April 18, 2008

Housing Market

Tree Swallow pair

Eastern Bluebird, male

Do you have your bird houses up and all cleaned out, ready for this year's tenants? Here's an Eastern Bluebird, male, recently exploring one of our bird houses. There was a female bluebird nearby watching him and his job was to convince her they should take out a mortgage for this house. A good nesting box is often hard to find.

One of the reasons you see two boxes close together in the above photo is the fact we "pair" our boxes. We have found that this is an effective method on our property for lessening the competition between species for nest boxes. We have a lot of Tree Swallows who nest on our property and they compete with the bluebirds, and even sometimes the chickadees and titmice, for boxes. A Tree Swallow will defend a small circle around its nest box from other Tree Swallows. If another nest box is placed within that circle, it will be defended from other Tree Swallows. Since the Tree Swallow can only nest in one of the boxes, that leaves the second box available to another species, not another Tree Swallow. We have often had a Tree Swallow and a bluebird nesting side by side. We will put a second "pair" of boxes 200-300 feet or more from the first "pair". We actually have a large trail of paired boxes and last year more than 10 pairs of Tree Swallows nested here as well as many other bird house species. It gives us great pleasure to follow the family life of these birds and to know we are, in a small way, helping sustain these species.

It's not too late this weekend to put up birdhouses. Go and purchase one or build your own. Click here for bird house plans. Many bluebirds, Tree Swallows and others are still searching for a home. So see what you can do to enhance the real estate market in your neighborhood. The birds will thank you.

(click on the words highlighted in blue to take you to other webpages with more information.)


ChrisJ said...

I've never seen a blue bird and would so love to! All our white crowned sparrow, (we've had about 25 of them all winter) have disappeared this week, so I expect they have gone a little further north. Now the house finches and house sparrow can get a chance to nest in the bushes, eat the bird seed and splash in the waterfall. The WCSparrow pretty well dominated them all winter.

Shelley said...

Great info and photos! I only have a few bird boxes put up - I'm going to put up a few more.