Friday, July 13, 2012

Bluebird House Hunters

HGTV's House Hunters has nothing on these discriminating bluebirds.  The pictures I'm going to show are of very poor quality but the story they tell is so interesting that I'm going to go ahead and share them anyway.

A few years ago, my brother built this bluebird house for us.  We put it up in the middle of the yard in 2009 but it remained empty until 2010 when we moved it back near the fence.  That Spring a young bluebird couple moved in and started their family.

The following year they were back and raised another brood of offspring.  But early this Spring we were disappointed when the house remained empty.  I bought another house with a different design in the hope that we'd attract more than one nesting pair and although that one was immediately occupied, the original house remained empty.

I had cleaned it out last Fall just as the bluebird sites recommended so I thought to open it up and see if there had been any sign of activity inside.  And there was....a wasp nest.  Mystery solved.  Now all I had to do was get rid of the wasps.  I knocked out the nest but the wasps continued to hang around.  Then I washed out the box with buckets of water but the wasps were undeterred.  Finally, I reluctantly sprayed the box with an insecticide but that didn't do the trick either.  A few days later they had started a new nest inside.  Finally, with a new hose and a power jet nozzle, I sprayed the box thoroughly.  And voila, the wasps were gone.

But still no bluebirds.  The other nest box was busy and active and we're on the second hatch in there already but the old box remained empty.  And then on Monday I saw some activity.  A pair of bluebirds were checking out the old digs.

Here you can see the female sitting on top of the box while her hubby checks out the inside.

Then she moves to the top of the fence to look over the neighborhood.  And if you look carefully, you can see the Mr. also looking around at the surroundings.

These pictures will seem redundant but I want to show how they seemed to be looking in every direction.

Finally the Mrs. flies down for a closer look.

And checks out the view from the rooftop.

Now the Mr. flies up to the fence to look over the neighborhood.

While she checks out the interior of the nest box.

After a quick look around, she looks up at him.

And flies off.

A few seconds later he was gone too.  And they haven't been back.

I'm mystified as to why they didn't choose this weatherproof, solid, tried and true house.  At first glance one might think it was the weathered appearance but that would have been obvious to them right away and they wouldn't have proceeded with their careful inspection.  I suppose it's possible that there's some residual smell from the insecticide I used but it has been thoroughly washed since then.  Certainly my human nose can detect no trace of the scent and bluebirds have a poor sense of smell.  I did cut back the tree and shrub that might have been bothering them and I hope that makes a difference.

But what is so interesting to me is the communication between the two birds.  It's like he said, "Honey, come on. I want to show you something."  Then they shared their opinions and decided against it.

I do love watching the bluebirds.  And I can state unequivocally, that if a new bluebird couple moves in, I'll be posting it and their activities in a way that would put the most dedicated paparazzi to shame.

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