RECENT ICE STORMS – NESTBOXES ARE SHELTERS.


The ice pretty much covered everything, including the stovepipe baffle and the Noel guard.

The ice pretty much covered everything, including the stovepipe baffle and the Noel guard.

One of the joys of being a County Coordinator for the Virginia Bluebird Society or any bluebird conservation group is getting nestbox monitors in your area to send you photos! Here are two recent photos sent to me after the Christmas 2012 ice storm in Floyd County, Virginia. As I studied the pictures, I could see several bluebirds sitting on and inside the iced branches of the pretty pine tree next to the nestbox. Upon reading her notes, I am thinking several of the bluebirds piled inside that nestbox during the storm for shelter and to use their bodies huddled close together to keep warm. I need to write to her and ask her to look inside this box and tell me what she finds. Since bluebirds eat mostly fruits in the winter (what fruit is still available at this time of year!), what is left behind inside a nestbox they roost in can help a person see what they are eating–generally bluebirds leave small seeds–not a huge mess at all. I think she told me last year that she puts out roasted mealworms. It really helps the birds during very cold and harsh weather like this to feed them. I put out “bluebird nuggets”, a softer, smaller suet mix made in the size of peas, rich in protein, fat, and fruit — made especially for bluebirds, but most birds will enjoy the nuggets. I mix those with the roasted mealworms and soaked cut-up raisins, which softens them up and is easier for them to eat. I will be ordering live mealworms shortly. I am sharing the two photos the monitor, Karen, sent me. I took the photo of the iced nestbox (you see to the right) and cropped it so you can see it closer. Thanks, Karen, for sharing! It’s tough being a bluebird. Thanks to those keeping your nestboxes up during the winter — it provides shelter to roosting birds during bad (and very cold) weather! I also included a photo I took of the mix I put out, specifically made for bluebirds. This photo does not include live mealworms, which I will be ordering shortly. Presently as of today’s date, we are in a major frigid snap. VERY COLD for birds. Really, it’s tough being a bird in the winter.  Happy bluebirding!!

Karen's words:  "I have seen the BBs going in and out of the nestbox and sitting on top of the nestbox, too.  I took the picture from inside the house, since it was very icy, so I am glad they turned out as good as they did."

Karen’s words: “I have seen the bluebirds  going in and out of the nestbox and sitting on top of the nestbox, too.  I took the picture from inside the house, since it was very icy, so I am glad they turned out as good as they did.”  Be sure to see the other photo Karen sent below.

It's tough being a bluebird!

It’s tough being a bluebird!  How many can you count in this tree?

My strategy to keep bluebirds hanging out around the yard and by the house without ordering live mealworms so far seems to be working--by serving a mix of the suet nuggets, dried mealworms, and soaked raisins (generic brand raisins). They like this domed feeder on a shepherd's hook underneath a big pine tree. Another open platform feeder has sunflower seeds added in for the other birds to enjoy, too. Raccoons are not accessing these setups below (yet). These are seen from the house windows, so I can keep watch!

My strategy to keep bluebirds hanging out around the yard and by the house without ordering live mealworms so far seems to be working–by serving a mix of the suet nuggets, dried mealworms, and soaked raisins (generic brand raisins). They like this domed feeder on a shepherd’s hook underneath a big pine tree. Another open platform feeder has sunflower seeds added in for the other birds to enjoy, too. Raccoons are not accessing these setups below (yet). These are seen from the house windows, so I can keep watch!  By the way, these suet nuggets are not specifically labeled for “bluebirds”.  The nuggets below are.  Their content is slightly different.  The nuggets below have more fat in them and added protein and fruit.  I like those the best.

I like to mix dried (or roasted) mealworms with soaked cut-up raisins and "bluebird nuggets".

ABOUT THOSE LIVE MEALWORMS: 

Good places to order live mealworms:  …. or raise your own!  It’s much cheaper to raise them.  There are more good places to order online.  These give you a 10% discount if you are a North American Bluebird Society (NABS) member.   You might have places in your location that will sell them cheaper (locally grown).  Do some research about it.   Live Mealworms are the bluebirds favorite of all.

The Nature’s Way:   http://www.thenaturesway.com/

Grubco:   http://www.grubco.com/

I have also ordered from Fluker Farms (without the NABS discount):  http://www.flukerfarms.com/

7 comments on “RECENT ICE STORMS – NESTBOXES ARE SHELTERS.

  1. 10 degrees here in Central Virginia this AM, and plenty of birds are at the feeders. Bluebirds who nest here do not eat here. Cardinals, titmice, chickadees, goldfinches, mockingbirds (2), juncos, and white throat-ed sparrows all dine here in a large tray on the terrace.
    A few weeks ago I spotted at least six bluebirds in my neighbor’s yard ground feeding. There was lots of chatter, and I hope they were the two broods I raised/monitored this summer. They never feed here, except when they are nesting in the yard, perched on the power line across the property. Perhaps the other birds scare them away, yet I have yet to see any even looking for food during winter. This ultra-cold causes me to worry. At least there is no snow on the ground…

    Like

  2. I am starting to set a new bluebird trail at oak hill estate in marshall, va.I work at the John Marshall Estate and have seen dozens of bluebirds there. I have 2 houses in my yard, 1 in the front yard and 1 in the back and have blues nest every year 3 times a year for 5 years. I feed mine fruit and nut mix, blue bird nuggets and suet mix. My blues here at my home in stafford, come out all day and eat and I love to see them. I have a heated bird bath for them and I am amazed how many males I have coming around this time a year to feed and get their drink of the warm water they so need.

    lisa trujillo
    Stafford, Va.

    Like

    • Lisa, you’re going to love monitoring your new bluebird trail. That is marvelous. Congratulations on it all. I hope you’ll be finding your County Coordinator with the Virginia Bluebird Society to report in your statistics at the end of the nesting season each year. Monitored nestboxes and stats are always needed and appreciated by ornithologists to see the trends and happenings with the species. It’s easy to use the forms provided by VBS. Let me know if you need more guidance or links. I find their forms easy to use in a 3-ring binder. I keep them in a file year after year–I like to compare my notes!

      Like

Thanks for your comment. Since I review and approve all public comments before publishing, give me a few days to respond to your comments and inquiries. Thank you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s