FLOYD AND PATRICK COUNTIES: LEARN TO MONITOR AND MANAGE A NESTBOX! I am available to train you….call me and leave message at (703) 919-4302 if interested. I specifically cover Patrick and Floyd Counties, VA, for the Virginia Bluebird Society as County Coordinator.
I am seeking monitored boxes for stats to include to the VBS. These stats go to the North American Bluebird Society, as well. Please let me include your nestboxes. Learn how rewarding bluebirding can be, even ONE nestbox. Include your box (or sponsor one through the VBS!) in my trail stats for Virginia! It’s fun and very rewarding. I love to train!
This is an important post at this stage of my trail. The latest as of June 3, 2010:
During first broods this nesting season, I had THREE FIRSTS on my trail.
1. Ants. First time on my trail. I will use vaseline at the base of the pole and underneath the stovepipe guard for those locations I’ve found these little black ants (not fire ants).
2. Blowfly larvae on FIRST broods–first ever on my trail–usually it’s on the second broods. All bluebird babies fledged OK for first broods since the nestlings were older when the larvae first appeared. I am using the organic Diatomaceous Earth (very fine powder) to puff inside the nesting material and underneath the nests to keep the larvae from climbing onto the nestlings at night. I have my goggles, mask, and pest pistol to administer this powder. See a previous post below on DE. Someone asked me one time why the bluebirds don’t eat the larvae–it’s because they hide at the bottom and inside the nesting material by day while the parents feed the nestlings. At night, when the parents aren’t entering the nestboxes to feed their nestlings (from dawn to dusk about 5 times per hour!) is when the larvae crawl up and latch onto them to feed on the nestlings’ blood (like mosquitoes). If these larvae aren’t removed or killed off, the nestlings will get anemic and cannot develop properly to fledge–most nestlings will die in the nest for lack of nutrition and muscle strength. We monitors must keep this from happening in our nestboxes. We cannot control this in natural cavities for obvious reasons, but we CAN in our nestboxes, which is why a NESTBOX MUST NEVER BE INSTALLED AND THEN NOT MONITOR THOSE BOXES. It is part of the responsibility of installing even one nestbox in our back yard. Monitoring is not difficult but it does take training. Monitoring has its huge rewards when we help the birds succeed. Why do we want to set them up to fail? (I certainly do not.)
3. Ticks (on me!): I am prepared on next trail check with my camp hat, two tick sprays (one on skin and one for clothing (a non-deet spray made by Coleman), and will have to wear a light windbreaker, even on hot days, in some areas of my trail to keep ticks off my arms and neck. My last two trail visits, I found ticks on me….thankfully early before they latched into my skin. We must be careful out there.
Good sites on ticks ( click to enter or cut and paste in browser):
- Above: Photo of American Dog Tick--this is what I found on me, not the Deer Tick that carries the dreaded Lyme Disease. I am now better prepared to ward off these pests during trail checks!
Some interesting additional trail notes as of June 3, 2010:
I have one box so far as of trail check on June 3 with a completed pine-needle nest and two laid eggs. This weekend is my goal to administer the powder before the female is incubating the completed clutch of eggs. By puffing or “poofing” small amounts of the DE inside the nesting material and at the bottom, it should not risk the female or nestlings any harm by the powder getting on them directly.
I believe the other nesters after first fledgings delayed building nests for second broods due to the large number of thunderstorms (only my theory from experience) in our area. I think they are starting their second nests now, and I’ll be checking my trail more than once a week (about every 4 days if I can, weather permitting).
I do have my two-hole test site in past weeks with House Sparrows; however, I’m seeing some changes with a territorial battle between an unidentified brown bird (House Sparrow or House Wren) with a bluebird. See my test site page for updates on that.
Only one other box has nesting House Wrens. I positively ID’s successfully 6 laid HOWR eggs in that box. These birds, when nesting, are protected and therefore the nest must be left alone. I doubt these birds will bother another box with bluebirds.
I do need to cut back some weedy growth on some of my poles in rural locations.
I have found more insect issues this year–I am attributing it to the amount of rains we’ve had. Perhaps I am incorrect on that. The only pest problem that is not as bad this year are paper wasps and mud dauber wasps–though they are here, they aren’t bothering my boxes as much this year.