While I was harvesting pecans, I was also taking advantage of that beautiful November Saturday to make my Bluebird house rounds. I would rather do this annual chore now, in the sunshine and mild wind, traipsing up and down the hills through the tall grass, before the world gets cold and breezy again.
I'm pleased to report that 11 of 19 boxes, were occupied by Bluebirds this year, a record for me. Eight of the eleven were boxes of my own North American Bluebird Society-approved design. Of course, many of you remember the hatch group that I watched closely this year, raised in this nest (to the right) as it looks now and pictured during their growth period (below to the left). If you haven't seen them before, this is a pretty typical nest for a bluebird, perhaps even a little on the cushy side. Eastern Bluebirds are not, by any anthropomorphic comparison, very good architects and they seldom place more than an inch of unorganized grass in the bottom of their boxes, varying a little upon the depth of the box cavity.
Of the other eight boxes, two were completely unoccupied and six were occupied by whatever species in my area fills the entire box, top to bottom, with small twigs (House Wren?) The latter six boxes were all close to the border of the trees in the draw. I had placed them along that border but facing the open prairie, thinking that the Bluebirds would like the sites, but the Bluebirds seem to be drawn to boxes out in the middle of the grasses, on fence posts. Since Bluebirds often start nesting in early February in this area, I presume they've got first choice on most of these boxes and are leaving the boxes around the woods and ponds for others. I think this year I will move some of the woodline boxes out farther into the fields just to make sure I've got a surplus of Bluebird-approved housing in the area.
I have to be a bit careful, however, of my site selection. I've found that the donkey's like to rub the boxes left within their reach, often to the point of knocking them down, so I've moved several boxes to the opposite side of the fence from the donkeys or into corners where the little brown asses will have trouble getting at them. Ding and Dong must not like Bluebirds as much as I do.