I have maintained a bluebird and tree swallow nesting box "trail" for the past seven or so years on our property. The power birders call a collection of nesting boxes a "trail," and I really don't know the story behind that. We have nine wooden Peterson style nesting boxes on our property. Two of the boxes are paired, meaning they are installed right next to each other or are back to back. Five of the boxes are solo. Thus there are seven nesting locations across our property. Nesting locations are spaced at least 100 feet away from each other on fence posts, a tree and a building.
I put up the Bluebird boxes because this species has been in decline across the U.S. due mostly to aggressive nest site competition from non-native Starlings and European house sparrows. The loss of grassland habitat also is a contributing factor to their population drop as well. These birds are gorgeous blue and they have the softest most gentle call of all the birds in our area. I love watching them fly around all year round, so more bluebirds are always better.
Today Ella and I did a nesting box patrol to see what's happening in the bird condos we installed this winter. Bird box construction was fun and you could check out HERE (Revenge of the Bluebird Boxes) if you care for the details.
This box was the subject to the fight by the tree swallows as described and pictured HERE (Love is in the Air). Now some serious business is underway with nesting material being incorporated into the box. Those are turkey feathers lining the grass nest.
I had to replace this box during winter due to the ravages of a horse named Gemma and I am so glad that a pair of tree swallows claimed it early on after they arrived back to our property this spring.
Here's mama tree swallow freaked out about a huge camera lens being stuffed into her nest. She says, "If I lay flat that thing WILL go away." She is right of course.
Here is my star bluebird nesting location. The two blue birds who claimed this nest box can be seen HERE (Battle of the Titans) as they conquered the swallows attaining world domination.
And the fruits of their labor have arrived! These are the first baby bluebirds this year! Hurray!! I freely admit they are a ugly little pile of gray feathers, but just wait and see. I will keep documenting their growth.
Then I noticed during the past week that a new pair of bluebirds were hanging around this unclaimed condo. Ella really wanted to get in there and take a peek.
So I helped her out and we looked at these huge blue eggs. They were very large by bluebird standards. Normally, they lay between three and five so I will check back in a few days to see if more eggs magically appear.
And finally, there was a nest box I installed on the side of my barn as an experiment. Normally bluebirds don't claim boxes on buildings, but someone made a beautiful nest of horse hair and laid four eggs. However, no one is around any more taking care of them.
Until next time, that's all from the nest box report!
UPDATE: There are now four eggs in the nest with the gigantic sized bluebirds eggs, just like clockwork! I bet one more will show up tomorrow, then it's time to start counting days until hatching.