I haven't been quite as busy with school this semester as last, and have been doing some work around the house to attract more birds to our yard. We get a decent variety of native species around here, and this year has started off pretty nicely as well.
A goal I really had this year was to try and get our Eastern Bluebird to nest again and raise a few broods of fledglings. Our first and second year here, we had a bluebird pair that nested and raised two sets of fledglings each year, then abandoned the site the following two years. In large part I believe this was due to the nestbox we had used initially to attract them. It was given to us as a gift, and was not really constructed properly for long term use. It was inadequately ventilated, unable to be opened for monitoring or cleaning, and after those first two years, I think it just became a bit too uncomfortable for any of the native cavity nesters we have in this area to use.
So I went to our local Wild Birds Unlimited store (a fantastic resource for anyone interested in birds around their area, they have stores nationwide you can find here), spoke with the staff and ended up getting a very basic but nice bluebird house to replace the old house we had. That same afternoon we had a pair that seemed to be fairly interested in the house, and we were excited that it looked like our plan was unfolding nicely!
Of course, it appears now as if things have turned a bit in another direction. The past several days we've had a pair of Carolina Chickadees that have been taking an interest in the nestbox as well. They are native, and quite lovely. I've been monitoring the box and each day the Chickadees place the fur and hair of their nesting material on the nest the bluebird has already built, and at some point, the bluebird removes the nesting material. There have been a few loud squabbles, and, honestly, I would like to see the bluebirds win out, but the other day I figured that what would be ideal was if I could get both the Bluebirds and the Chickadees to nest in our yard by giving the Chickadees an alternative.
So...I got a house specifically sized for the Chickadee and put that up, but it looks like this is to no avail. I think the Chickadees (surprisingly) are going to be the ones to nest in the bluebird box, now I'm just worried that should this happen, the bluebirds may attempt to kill the Chickadee fledglings, assuming they end up laying any eggs.
At this point, I'm waiting to see if the Chickadee pair do lay any eggs and if they will hatch to see if I need to put up a hole reducer to protect them from the bluebirds. I think the Carolina Chickadee only raises one brood of chicks, in which case I will remove the reducer as soon as the fledglings leave the nest and clean it out in the hopes that our Bluebirds return and use it the rest of the season. Hopefully we can get this to work out and the Chickadees will switch over to the actual Chickadee house next breeding season and we will end up having both in our yard next time around.
In the meantime, here are a few photos of the Eastern Bluebirds and Carolina Chickadees.
Female and Male Eastern Bluebird checking out the new birdhouse within an hour of it going up!
Male and Female Eastern Bluebird as dusk approaches
Male and Female Eastern Bluebirds
Male Eastern Bluebird and American Goldfinch (coming into its summer plumage)