Baby Bluebirds

Last week was traumatic. It was a difficult week for me on many levels, but mostly because of what happened to the baby bluebirds in one of our boxes.

We have three bluebird boxes. One of the boxes is along the bank of the creek and is perched on top of a square wood pole. I really like this box because the lid slides off and you can easily peek in to see (or take pictures of!)  the babies. The photo above is from a set of bluebird babies raised in that box last year.

The second box is mounted on one of the pillars on our side porch.

The third box was here when we bought the house and was mounted on one of the posts of the wooden picket fence in the front yard.

Bluebird House 

This is the box that caused the disaster this week.

We knew we had bluebird babies in this box. The little chirps of the babies greeted us as we walked by. and we often saw the parents coming and going from the box.

Then last Friday, I took our dog for a walk. On our way back to the house, we started to walk toward this bluebird box when I saw the parents absolutely freaking out. They were flying up and down and all around. They were squawking and frantic.

A few years ago I was dive bombed by bluebird parents when their babies left the nest and were hopping around on the ground, so I thought that the babies must have fledged and were on the ground somewhere and the parents were worried we might hurt them.

So, I stayed back and made sure our dog didn't come close. I just stood and watched. Then, to my horror, I looked more closely at the box and saw a long, thick black cord coming out of the birdhouse hole.  It was the tail end of a big black snake!

Now, if I weren't a complete chicken, I would have run over and grabbed the snake and pulled it out.  I am, however, a complete chicken when it comes to snakes, so I dropped everything and ran to the house to get my husband.

He came running out and ripped the lid off the birdhouse and pulled the snake out. The snake had a large bulge in it's side and must have already eaten one of the birds.  A second bird was in it's mouth.  My husband got the bird out of the snake's mouth and tossed the snake. He held the little bird until it started breathing again and put it back into the nest with it's three brothers and sisters who had survived the attack.

The parents were still frantic.

We were frantic too.

The snake was nowhere to be seen and we quickly realized that we shouldn't have tossed the snake.

We checked on the birdhouse throughout the rest of the day, and there was no sign of the snake. We thought it might be okay.

We were wrong. 

The next morning, the nest was completely empty. 

My husband immediately removed the bluebird house from the fence and started researching the best way to mount the boxes to keep snakes and other critters out.  The solution he decided on was to mount the house really high on a small, smooth metal pole. The metal pole would be difficult, if not impossible, for a snake to climb.

So, here is the box today. It needs some finessing, but it is functional.  So far, we don't have new tenants, but are hopeful that the same pair will nest here again!

Bluebird House Mounted to Keep Snakes Out

Do you have bluebird boxes?  How do you keep them safe from snakes, raccoons, cats, and other critters?

May 23 2013

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