Monday, January 5, 2009

Revenge of the Bluebird Boxes

In my life before I had kids and I actually worked for a living... wait let me rephrase that. When I was paid for working for a living, I was a botanist/biologist/wetland scientist and spent innumerable hours in the field doing surveys for plants and animals. During my extensive time in the field, I acquired a love of birds and bought my first bluebird nesting boxes. These boxes have seen better days.

This box is 10 years old and had seen chickadees, bluebirds as well as tree swallows nest and rear young from within the walls of this small condo. However, since I have to tie it together with baling twine these days, it really is due for replacement.

The next set of nesting boxes that are pictured below are only 5 years old, but have been ravaged by a large equine bearing beaver-like teeth. Note the entirely chewed off right hand section on the box. You see, horses are the equivalent of 1200 pound termites, and if given the opportunity one of my particular equine "friends" will devour wooden objects within minutes.

These boxes have been around Gemma's pasture for several years but somehow escaped her attention until just recently. My error in this particular case was thinking that these boxes were somehow immune to her taste buds.

So since my dear and loving spouse did not buy me any material objects for Christmas, I thought it only appropriate that he construct new nesting boxes to replace the four I needed to retire and/or repair.

Here are some action shots of my husband Mike at the table saw and using the hole saw. Yep, he can build stuff! But only when he is wearing his Elmer Fudd hat. He has owned that hat longer than we have been together. Now that is devotion to a relationship!

And here are the labors of his effort. There is a total of 7, I repeat 7, new bluebird boxes! These are called the Peterson style bluebird box if you were wondering. You can find the exact plans HERE at the North American Bluebird Society website.

The new fleet is lovely and ready to be put on the fence posts around the pastures.

Here is a picture of a bluebird, the target species for these nesting boxes. They are damn cute don't you think. They flitter around our property year round and are especially vibrant in the spring.

And here is a tree swallow. They use the nesting boxes too. They arrive about the third week in March and leave around August.

This is an example of a paired set of bluebird boxes. Both bluebirds and tree swallows have used these nests.

We average four bluebird pairs per year nesting in our boxes. The tree swallows vary between two and four nests per year. Both species have double clutched throughout the time I have provided the nesting boxes. I think cumulatively during 7 years, between 175-200 baby blue birds and tree swallows have fledged from my "bluebird trail." That's the name the power birders give to a series of nesting boxes.

The kids love to look at the baby birds and we inspect them after they hatch for any predatory bugs or other problems. It's a little sad after they are gone. The kids want to see them and I have to tell Ella repeatedly, "All gone. The babies flew away." Last year she kept asking to see the nests for about a month. I let her look inside the nest each time until she was finally convinced that the babies were not in the box any more.

So here is a new box installed on the corner of Gemma the Termite horse's pasture. Note thick application of horse deterrent to the top of the box. A liberal dusting of this special powder might do the trick.

Finally, there in the distance is the perpetrator. Just wait Gemma, just wait...we are baited and ready for you now. Bring it on baby!!!

Ha ha ha!!!


pam said...

First, I love that hat. I can see it is needed to construct such wonderful bird houses.

I love the last picture of the horse.

Happy Monday

Suzi said...

That was a great post Julia!

Anonymous said...

I love the bird houses. Isn't it great to have a husband that can build things?
He did an excellent job!
Tell him don't worry about that hat, my husband(who is a lot older than your husband) has one that is very old. It makes him think better, he said.
Great photos.
Have a good day.

Michelle said...

Just love these bird houses. I also live in the country and enjoy seeing the birds stop for a snack at our feeders. Thanks for sharing.

Grand Pooba said...

Wow, I knew you were well educated just by reading your posts, but I didn't know to what extent! I bet everyone looks up to you, and not just because you are an amazon woman!

What a husband too! Kudos to him! And I love those last 2 pics!

Julia said...

Well most people don't really care what plants occur at their house unless they are ornamental, but thanks for the complement! Sometimes I think I am fill with useless knowledge sometimes.

Anonymous said...


The Mind of a Mom said...

Thank you for sharing this, I had never heard of these boxes, Now the hubster has a new project! LoL

AMH615 said...

Those are a great gift, they will bring you joy for years to come! It's great that your hubby is so skilled! Oh, Gemma! I hope you learn quickly!

Peggy said...

Welcome to Farm Diva's! Thank you for stopping by my blog and I have enjoyed reading some of your posts. Will be back often!

Wendy said...

Your blubirds look so different from what I expected! I grew up with my grandmother coaxing "Blue Jays" into the yard, which are a totally different bird I guess.

So my whole life when I heard "bluebird on my shoulder" it was referring to one of these & not a blue JAY? That makes sense, since Blue Jays are actually mean little birds.

Cindy said...

I love bird houses! We've had bird feeders but have never delved into houses, but I would love to. The picture of the blue bird is gorgeous.

dddiva said...

Great pics- stopped over from SITS to say hello- you've got an adorable family.

The Day the Swallows Came Home

The tree swallows are here already.  They arrived January 30 much to my dismay.  Swooping and calling and chirping their merry song over my ...