Bluebird Nestbox Design
I am a County Coordinator for the VBS. Here are suggestions from the VBS taken from their website. I use these guards and want to emphasize their importance using on nestboxes for the chicks’ safety.
VBS: “We have evolved a bluebird nestbox over the past few years which is working well on our trails. The bluebirds seem to like the design, and it is easy to monitor and clean out.”
Predator Guard Designs:
VBS: “We utilize two types of predator guards to help limit predation of our bluebird nestboxes. One we call the Cat/Raccoon Guard is made of a heavy wire mesh (hardware cloth) and goes on the front of the nest box to help fend off raccoons, cats, opossums, large birds, etc. This works by backing the critters off so it is too far of a reach into the box to get the eggs or babies. The pattern for the Raccoon Guard now posted on this site is slightly different from our original version. We have changed it to make it easier to cut out and lace together. The other guard, Snake Guard, is made of round metal ducting material and is installed on the mounting pole for the nest box. This guard is primarily to inhibit access by snakes which just love to dine on little birds and eggs. This guard can also fend off climbing cats, squirrels, raccoons, etc. (It also provides a bit of a challenge for squirrels when used on pole-mounted bird feeders.)”
Photo below from the VBS: ”Don’t let this happen to your bluebird nestbox! Mount your nestbox on a metal pole, use a Snake Guard, and position your nest box away from nearby and overhanging branches.”
The Black Rat Snake you see here is a “good” snake. We need snakes and they need to survive, too. They have unbelievable climbing ability using their scales and are fascinating in nature. They have plenty of food sources on the ground and otherwise. We bluebird monitors prefer they NOT eat from our installed cavity nestboxes, understandably. Our goal is to have successful bluebird fledgings and to help the bluebirds continue to thrive and increase their survival rate in the past decade from the use of man-made installed nestboxes. Once chicks fledge, they still may not survive due to predators. More on that topic of the survival of fledgings in an upcoming post!
Notes by Christine (09-20-09): Please feel free to contact me if you have questions on these nestbox designs and the use of predator guards. I would like to help. Do you want to install a box or a trail in Patrick County, VA? Let me know! Just leave a voice message at 703-919-4302 with your name and contact phone number and a convenient time to call. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. I would be happy to speak to you and to help you install a box or nestbox trail in Patrick County, VA. If you live elsewhere and need some guidance where to start, let me know that, too. I can guide you in the right direction. Thank you for your interest and support in helping our beautiful Eastern Bluebird. See the Virginia Bluebird Society’s website for more information on optaining a grant for your organizationfor new and refurbished bluebird trails and for youth and scout organizations (see this link to the VBS page): http://www.virginiabluebirds.org/grantprograms.html
I am attending the November 7th, 2009, VBS State Conference in Bedford, VA. I look forward to meeting my fellow Virginia bluebirding colleagues at the conference and learning more how I can better serve our native birds.