Even the saddest moment is brightened just a bit when you hear the uplifting sweet melodies cheep of the Eastern Bluebird. There are several areas around the Houston area where these little bits of happiness are making a come back. The Wildlife Center of Texas is grateful to several scouting projects that have produced bluebird boxes for parks, neighborhoods and other areas. Eastern Bluebirds are not common in the Houston area, but there are substantial populations where nesting boxes are provided. The Wildlife Center currently has Eastern Bluebirds that are nestlings and fledglings. Eastern Bluebirds from earlier in the season have already been released.
Providing successful nest boxes for Eastern Bluebirds requires research and monitoring. These guys are picky, so you can’t nail up just any box and expect Bluebirds to take up residence. There are many Bluebird nest box building plans on the internet, but that’s only part of the puzzle. Bluebirds require that the nest box be four to five feet off the ground and have a clear flight path. One rehabilitator has had great success placing nest boxes at the top of the post for her horse fence.
Even before the Bluebirds arrive, the nest box needs to be checked daily so that sparrows don’t take up residence. Bluebirds are insectivores, so providing mealworms and limiting the use of insecticides help attract them. Once your Bluebirds have built their nest, you need to monitor the box (at a distance of course) to make sure they are unmolested. Once the babies fledge, the nest box must be promptly cleaned out to encourage a second clutch.
This little Eastern Bluebird nestling came to the Wildlife Center after something got into its nest box and killed its siblings and pulled it outside the nest box. Domestic cats, rats and snakes are the primary predators that you must guard against. To a lesser degree, opossums and raccoons will prey on nest boxes. The homeowners, avid Bluebird lovers, rushed the little one to the Wildlife Center. The Bluebird will be fed and then released back into the wild. If you are interested in luring Bluebirds into your yard consider putting up a bluebird nest box and providing free handouts of mealworms.