Friday, March 26, 2010

Uh-oh! Here They Come

After a long and cold winter, the bluebirds have become active here at DSBG. We can just imagine they have been waiting for us to start peeking into (intruding?) their space. When they hear the golf cart approaching, they know we’ll be knocking on the doors. Yes, it’s always polite to knock before entering but, in this case, it’s to make sure a bird isn’t in the box when we open the front panel. Knock- knock and if a bird is in there, it usually flies out so that we can take a look inside.

The Eastern bluebirds spent many nights cuddling up for warmth in the nestboxes along the bluebird trail and, now, they are thinking about the future generation. This is the fourth week of March and there are three complete nests ready for use and several more that are under construction. The birds are active and have staked out territory for hunting and gathering. They are sitting on the boxes and lamp posts. They are singing. These are the signs of the season. Life is glorious!

This year a suggestion was made to try nestbox inserts to encourage the birds to use the boxes. Last year sixty-three percent of the boxes were used by the “blues”. Since there was not enough time before nesting season to order the inserts, make-shift ones were made from the tops of egg cartons. These are the cardboard ones, not the styrofoam ones. The tops were cut in half (like a half dozen size) and a couple of snips with the scissors were made to fold the end up to make it fit in the nestbox. It’s a trial and it remains to be seen if it increases box use. However, three of the nests that are ready for use are constructed in the egg carton inserts, as can be seen in the picture. We’ve had a few laughs about the birds’ laying eggs directly into egg cartons. It’s a different twist, but we do have fun with our “assignment.”

There is one box in which a tufted titmouse is setting up housekeeping. At least we think it’s a titmouse. It could be a Carolina chickadee as the nests are very similar. This nest is quite different from the ones bluebirds make. As to the cardboard insert, the bird attacked it and tore it into small pieces but a nest is being built in it. The nest is made up of shredded dry leaves and lots of green moss as well as other unidentifiable material. At this point it isn’t ready for use as more depth is needed before the nesting cup is shaped. We’ll keep an eye out for which bird flies into it and give you an ID later.

Most nests of the Eastern bluebird here at the garden are made up of pine needles as there is an ample supply of them. However, in the past there have been a few that were made with dried grass. It depends on what’s available.

So we’ve hit the trail for the season and with good weather and some luck, there will be a new generation of little bluebirds fledging over the next few months.


  1. From where do you order the nest box inserts?

  2. You can order the nest inserts from for $1 ea plus a small shipping & handling fee. They are not listed on their site, but I called to check and they do still offer them-- you just have to know about them or call.

    Before we ordered, though, we trialed one out that had been left over from a previous year and it did not quite fit. So, we used the tops of cardboard egg cartons, as Susan suggested above. These seem to have worked fine, and are a great re-use of a product that would otherwise have been trash.

    Good luck with your boxes-- hope you attract lots of 'blues'!

    Cindy Klemmer, Director of Education

  3. Thank you for the info! I currently have a pair of blues in one of my houses. She has laid 3 eggs as of yesterday, and I have been diligently feeding them mealworms twice a day for several weeks now. The male comes around to find me when they're ready to eat them, can you beat that? What beautiful creatures they are, and how blessed I am that they chose my backyard in which to raise their family this spring. =)