Prepping for Our Bird Buddies

Although it’s just now February, it seems like Spring has been here a while, as we’ve had mild temps, so far, this year.  Mostly ’60’s, but the thermometer has been all over the place.  With the funny weather, it seems that we have a bunch more birds, mainly Robins, this year, and a number of them are already taking a close look at the nest boxes.

We’ve started prepping for the new season, cleaning out and painting nest boxes, as well as getting the new purple martin house up, as well as the gourds.  We learned last year, to plug the purple martin gourds with pipe foam.  This keeps House Sparrows, and European Starlings from trying to set up homesteads.  We had a problem, with sparrows, in 2014.

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New Purple Martin House, Up and Waiting
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Gourds Ready to Go Up, With Foam Plugs in the Openings.

House Sparrows, and European Starlings, are non-native birds, and are a big problem for native species.  They take over nesting sights, and will invade established nest boxes, destroying eggs, and killing babies, as well as adults.  We do our best to control them, and found that plugging holes does a good job, in preventing them from setting up in purple martin gourds.  We pull the plugs once martins have begun claiming the area.

Many folks put up nest boxes, but fail to maintain them.  Every box, gourd, etc., should be cleaned out at the end of the season, and repairs made as necessary.  We give our bluebird boxes a coat of paint, when they get old and dark, as it not only protects the wood, but helps keep the temps down.

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Selena Giving a Box a Coat of Paint.

While out out taking care of nest boxes, this past weekend, we spotted something unusual, a woodpecker flew out of one the boxes, that we were driving up to.  We had never seen a woodpecker at a nest box before, although we have seen the entrance holes pecked wider before.  Definitely a surprise.

Not long after we had spotted the first woodpecker come out of a box, Selena spotted a woodpecker go in and out of a nest box, in the front bed, off the North East corner of the house.  It was a tight fit, going through the entrance hole, but the woodpecker seems not to be bothered by it.  Selena was able to get a good enough view to identify it as a Golden Fronted Woodpecker.

Doing a little research, Selena learned that woodpeckers do use artificial cavities, and there are actually plans for boxes to suit them.  In learning the hole size, I grabbed a 2″ bit, and opened the box up.  Selena also added some wood shavings, too, as she read that woodpeckers use shavings and chips in their cavities.

Yesterday evening, while I was fixing supper, Selena stood by the front window, anxiously awaiting the return of the woodpecker.  She was not disappointed, and was pleased to see it go into the house, several times, and then settling in for the night.  This morning, she spotted the woodpecker leaving for the day.  She was definitely tickled

We guess that it’s roosting in the house at night, and we’re hoping that it might nest there, this season.  We’ll see.  It would be awesome to see some baby woodpeckers.  That would be a nice addition to the list of birds we’ve had fledge at The SnK.  It looks like building woodpecker boxes is going on our ‘To Do” list.

Well, the sun is out, the temp’s coming up, the wind’s not to rough, so I think that it’s time that I got outside, and got some stuff done.

So, what are you doing for your Bird Buddies?

Keith, the K, in The SnK

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