|Our Feathered Friends - March 23|
|Wednesday, March 23, 2011|
By RAY POPE
This past Saturday we had a good time at Garrs Rental and Feed Store in Mt. Juliet with the two seminars there. It has been so long since talking to people, that I almost forgot why I was there. After a few jitters, my nerves finally eased up enough to get into a talk about our Bluebirds. Maybe I should give you all a few pointers about attracting Bluebirds to your property.
Habitat is one of the first things you should consider when placing out Bluebird houses. Bluebirds like an open piece of property that is not enclosed by a woods type of setting. Nesting boxes should never be placed directly on a tree trunk where many predators would have access to the babies. Place your houses on a pole at a height of five to seven feet off the ground. Look straight up and make sure that all you can see is sky.
This will help the Bluebirds locate your box a little faster. When you finally place the box on the pole, it wouldn't hurt to place some type of a squirrel guard about fout feet from the ground. Not only would it prevent squirrels from maybe chewing the entrance hole large enough for it to enter, but it would also prevent snakes from entering the home in search of your little ones.
A few years ago my neighbor Al Ashworth had a Bluebird family destroyed by a hungry snake. Al placed a piece of PVC pipe over the old pole which should solve the problem. Most Bluebirds will not return to a nesting box where the family has been taken. If that happens you should move the box a few feet away to another location.
If you are one of the hammer-swinging type that loves to build something, you might like to build some birdhouses. Bluebirds need an entrance hole of 1 1/2 inches, which will keep out the old nasty starlings, but it will still allow the House Sparrow to enter. Sometimes you will have to do the unthinkable if you make up your mind to raise a family of Bluebirds instead of House Sparrows. If you know that there are House Sparrows in your box, tear out the nest and dispose of the nesting material.
Do not throw it out on the ground, where the Sparrows will pick it up and return it to the same box before you have time to get back to the house. Also when constructing your nesting boxes, do not, I repeat DO NOT place a peg under the entrance hole, because that will give a House Sparrow a perching place to guard the box. Bluebirds can fly right in anyway.
I would like to thank W.T. Nolen Jr. for the four Bluebird houses and jar of honey. Mr. Nolen is a very good carpenter and loves to build, plus he is a member of the Wilson County Bee Keepers Association.
One quick field note: Last Thursday I spotted a pair of Purple Martins checking out the housing situation at the corner of South Maple and West Spring Street at Jackson's Well Drilling headquarters. They are trickling in and will be here about the first of April. Right now, what we are seeing are the scouts.