When i left to go out of town on June 5, i left a nesting pair of blues with the mama brooding a clutch of 5 beautiful little eggs. She started brooding on May 29. When I got back home on June 12, the nest was empty - no sign of the eggs and no indication that any hatching had occurred. In addition, the mama and papa were no where to be seen. I cleaned out the nest immediately and awaited what i thought would be a rebuild ; however, here it is, June 17, and they still haven't returned. The mealworms i have in my bb feeders are going uneaten. I have to believe that while i was gone, a predator got the eggs (i have a predator guard and have never had any problems with this before). I'm guessing that it was a racoon but i'm not certain. I'm still sad about the eggs but what is really worrying me is that my blues have seemingly vanished. Keep in mind that before i left, the parents were here as well as 4 of their previous fledglings. Has anyone else had something like this happen before. Could my blues have been thoroughly 'scared off' when their eggs were taken? I've had nesting blues for the last 4 years and they have 3 nestings each year.
Any input would be appreciated.
Doris - Fallston, Maryland
This very same dilemma has happened twice for the same nest box on my trail this year. Yes it is so sad to see a whole brood vanish this way, this last time I didn't even see the parent birds either. So Sad!
My intuition tells me it is, indeed, a raccoon responsible for the missing brood. All we can do is remove the nest and hope the parents come back. Perhaps they are somewhere nearby nesting.?
Good luck, Doris, I do believe you still have time for another clutch, so don't give up hope. But keep a watchful eye out for the culprits and try to trap them if you can. Some folks use have-a-heart traps and relocate but often if there's a lot of coons stronger methods might have to be resorted to. ....They can decimate the whole bluebird population in just a few nights....
Thanks Jo. I appreciate the condolences and the advice but i have good news to report. You’re not going to believe it but early this afternoon, I looked out front and there were the mama and papa (I guess they are the same ones but I can’t be sure), hanging around the nesting box and now I see the mama starting a nest. YEA!. Have no idea where they have been but glad to see them (or a new pair) back at the box. I’m going to have my hubby bait the ‘have-a-heart’ trap and see if we can catch the culprit. Generally, when one is around, he/she first get’s the suet so we put the trap right underneath the tree where the suet feeder hangs. Hope we catch him. Darn, I wish I could keep myself from getting so stressed out when something like this happens and I tell myself they are only birds but it just doesn’t work for me. J
Doris, I'm so glad to hear that your bluebirds are back. Ours had a second batch going. I was enjoying it so much. But Sunday when I checked on the babies, I opened the door to be greeted by a black snake. I'm so upset. Everyone here was telling me to put up a baffle, but my husband didn't think we needed to. He is making one right now. So, we are going to clean it out and hope they come back. I just haven't even seen the parents around since Sunday. I am very sad.
Janine, i'm sorry to hear about your blues and i'll have to say i would have just about fainted if that had happened to me. When the snake got that egg clutch of mine many years back the dirty deed had already been done and i didn't have to see him/her. And, yes i'm happy that there is another bb pair building a nest but it's not my original pair. The only reason i know this is because these 2 bb's do not respond to my call and will not enter my mealie feeder. The other pair would do both. So, now i'm trying to 'train' this new pair to go into the mealie feeder.
Keeping my fingers crossed for you that your blues return soon and start rebuilding.
We had about the same thing happen to us . Our bb started a family and they seem to be doing find my husband was working out in the flower garden where the bb house is and he didn't see any action with the parents flying down at him. So he looked into the bb house and all was gone but one dead one. I don't know what got it we were thinking a sparrow went into the nest. The other ones seem so young to fly but we did see them and then one day there was a dead baby in the front yard. Then we went away on vacatation and when we came back we haven't seen the babies or mom and dad. I am hoping that they will come back and start another nest. All we have seen is a wren trying to make a nest and my husband just cleans is out they have a nesting house in the front. I just hope I can see if the other two babies made it. We tried all spring to get the bbs to come to the feeder and take the meal worms like a couple of years ago we didn't have any problem of bb to eat the mealworms. We also tried in a different places where they fly to,but it seems that the robins would find it. We have a couple of robins follow my husband around because they know he puts out the food most of the time.My husband thinks that they were a young pair of bb and didn't know too much about nesting. I thought that it would just come natural with birds ,but maybe not .I wish I could help and give you an answer.
Phyllis- Hampshire IL
Thanks, Doris. It was such a shock to open the door lean over to look in and have this black snake head about 6 inches away from mine. I'm amazed I didn't all off the step ladder. I keep wondering if the snake got the parents somehow too. I sure hope not. Well, this morning, it is all set up with the baffle and all cleaned out. Hoping....
Doris, I am so sorry to hear this! What kind of predator guard (baffle) do you have on the box? Do you have house wrens around?
Glad to hear your blues are back...hope you can figure out what happened so it doesn't happen again! Hopefully they can have a successful nesting!
My seven baby blues of my second nesting fledged on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. One of them was a runt as I knew it would be and it couldn't fly at all...the others all flew really good. I am not too hopeful that the runt will make it. Momma blue has already laid four eggs on her third nesting! She started laying in another box before her nestllings fledged! I am really curious to see how many eggs she lays this time...first six, then seven...now ??
Donna, Yes, i have House Wrens - a pair of them are nesting in one of my bb houses out back - 6 eggs so far. I don't bother them, the only ones i discourage - read that as tear out the nest - are the HOSPs because i've seen what they can do to a nest and babies/parents. We did trap a raccoon last week so maybe that will end the problem. Laughing at you that you have this little mama blue spitting out eggs as fast as she can. My blues finished their nest and there is 1 egg in the nest right now. So,keep your fingers crossed.
Phyllis - As i mentioned earlier , the blues that are nesting now are not the ones that have been here for the past couple of years nor are they from a nesting. They won't go into the bb feeder for the mealies and all of the rest of them would not only go into the box, they would come when i called to eat. But, at least i have blues and they have one egg in the nest.
Janine - glad to hear that you have your baffle installed - hope you get your blues back soon.
Doris...house wrens can cause as much havoc as HOSP except they cannot harm the adults. They can and will pierce the eggs and or throw the eggs or young nestlings out of the nestbox. I do NOT let wrens nest in my yard at all.
Jo...are your boxes all baffled? Doris...what kind of baffle do you use? You both mentioned raccoons which is why I am wondering. I had an unbaffled box on a piece of 1/2 conduit once. At a nestcheck I found two of the five nestlings gone, I checked this box daily, it was at the back of our land so not one I can see from the house. I did see hair and dirt going up the pole so I knew it was a raccoon. I put up a 6" stovepipe baffle on the pole and the next morning I found a coon print on the bottom of the baffle but the three remaining nestlings were fine! They went on to fledge. I do have a few unbaffled boxes but anytime a Bluebird nests in one of my boxes (I have 17), if it is unbaffled a baffle goes up asap. They are so easy and cheap to install and do keep the birds safe. I am assuming you both have your boxes baffled but just an fyi in case you don't. Once a coon gets a meal out of a nestbox it will not forget.
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