‘KINGSTON’ STOVEPIPE BAFFLE — STOP GROUND PREDATORS GETTING TO NESTING BOXES.


This is the Ron Kingston Stovepipe guard.

This is the Ron Kingston Stovepipe guard.

This nestbox was recently treated for ants!

This nestbox was recently treated for ants!

On the cusp of this Leap Year month, the nesting season is soon among us once again, and we must be sure our nesting boxes are protected so our beautiful native cavity-nesting birds can successfully fledge their young without sabotage and interruption.   It is up to us as humans — when installing manmade bird housing, that is — to add this protection.   We cannot do this in natural habitat in natural cavities much higher into the trees, but as stewards helping the native cavity-nesting birds, we can help by providing safe locations  for them to bring their young into the world when we install and lure the birds to use our manmade bird housing.  Predators from the ground are and can be, depending on your location:  Snakes, Raccoons, Cats, Opossum, Rats, Mice, and Squirrels.  Have I missed any?  (Will not stop ants.)  Mr. Ron Kingston and I keep in contact often.  Mr. Kingston, being the designer of this guard, has created an inexpensive-to-make but highly effective wobbling stovepipe guard to easily install under nesting boxes.  This design has been tested over and over on bluebird trails for many years.  He recently sent me this colorful PDF online document with more info with some awesome photo graphics on making this guard, including some nice info about Ron himself!  Thank you!   I have never seen it before. Here it is and linked from the Purple Martin Field Day (which occurs in June each day in Louisa County, Virginia):    Click here:   From the Purple Martin Field Day website

Yo, mama! She is guarding her egg clutch. The eggs can be counted on another day. If she sits right on the egg clutch when you open the box for monitiring, leave her be and quietly close the box and secure it. The eggs can be counted on another day! She is the boss and must be left to attend to her Mom duties. Please use predator guards so that Mrs. Blue will get attacked by snakes or climbing mammals like raccoons and cats. (Photo is by me in 2013, at a top-opening nestbox).

Let me know if you have questions either by posting here on this blog post or contacting me privately through the CONTACT ME page.  I will be duplicating this document on my “Deterring Predators and Pests” page also.  I am also linking the plan below how to make it in a PDF file, viewable and printable online below.  

Find the plans here (if the links are not live, just cut and paste the URL in your browser separately):  

 1.  From the Nestbox Builder website:  

 2.  From the Virginia Bluebird society website:  

3.  From Cornell’s NestWatch page on predators (includes info on the wonderful Noel guard): 

Photo by Richard Hess. What's not to love? A successful fledging from a nestbox is goal #1. PLEASE USE PREDATOR GUARDS.

Photo by Richard Hess. What’s not to love? A successful fledging from a nestbox is goal #1. PLEASE USE PREDATOR GUARDS.

Suggestion: I install as high off the ground as possible so I can still reach the tops of boxes to monitor fast and efficiently without too much fuss during nestings so the birds can get back to business away from my human presence to tend to their nest and young.  I use an auto visor mirror to look down onto the nests to count eggs and young and to check for any possible problems with the young so I can troubleshoot how to help, just in case.  I install the stovepipe guards under my nestboxes fairly high from the ground–where the tops of my boxes are at about six (6) feet above ground.  Boxes installed too low, such as 4 feet (even 5 feet is low if you are installing a box on an incline terrain or hill), are too easy for snakes, raccoons, and cats, to get past the guard.  Feral cats can jump 6 feet!  (NOTE:  I prefer all my boxes to be off of flat terrain as much as possible.)

Here is a YouTube Video I made regarding one of my first boxes on my trail and using this guard:  

Ground Climbing Predator Baffle-Kingston with Illustration

 

 

 

A BLUEBIRD “ONLY CHILD”.


This Eastern Bluebird is one of 6 eggs….only this one hatched.  I removed all 4 eggs you see next to this little one.  The other unhatched egg is slightly buried in the nesting material underneath the nestling you see here in this picture, so I left that one so as not to disturb this little guy any more than I already did.   It’s easy to remove the unhatched eggs when the young are at this age….once they get bigger, it’s difficult due to the nestling’s size.   2-3 days after is even more ideal, if you can.  That is not always possible if you monitor the standard once a week at a nestbox.  This bluebird should get plenty of food, don’t you think?   Any questions on removing unhatched eggs?  If so, fire away here!  I’m happy to help.

Hello Monitors!   It was easy to remove these 4 unhatched eggs with a plastic spoon, one at a time, and very carefully so as not to disturb this nestling.  Once they get to 5-7 days old, it gets more difficult without causing a stir  and a disturbance to the young.  Try to remove unhatched eggs, if you're comfortable doing so, before the 4th or 5th day of age.   If you are not comfortable with it, don't do it.   It would be better to leave them if you are nervous doing so.   When removing unhatched eggs, learn to do so quickly and close the box.   I try not to leave the nest open too long to deter the odors of growing birds and the nest to potential predators out there.  I removed these because there were so many and were on top of the nest, more easily cracked and broken and could cause a major smelly, sticky mess to the nest.  That is not good.

Hello Monitors! It was easy to remove these 4 unhatched eggs with a plastic spoon, one at a time, and very carefully so as not to disturb this nestling. Once they get to 5-7 days old, it gets more difficult without causing a stir and a disturbance to the young. Try to remove unhatched eggs, if you’re comfortable doing so, before the 4th or 5th day of age. If you are not comfortable with it, don’t do it. It would be better to leave them if you are nervous doing so. When removing unhatched eggs, learn to do so quickly and close the box. I try not to leave the nest open too long to deter the odors of growing birds and the nest to potential predators out there. I removed these because there were so many and were on top of the nest, more easily cracked and broken and could cause a major smelly, sticky mess to the nest. That is not good.

 

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FINALLY HERE…THE FIRST EGGS FOR NESTING SEASON 2013.


THE FIRST EGGS FOR NESTING SEASON 2013 HAVE ARRIVED!

First egg laid April 5, 2013. Compared to last year, the first egg laid on the trail was March 8, 2012! The birds waited for the weather to improve–much colder this spring. I can wait–no rushing these pretty blues.