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When to clean out the nest?

This is a discussion on When to clean out the nest? within the The Outback Terrace Bar forums, part of the Land Plants category; Years ago my folks put a bluebird box out along the edge of the woods ...

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  1. #1
    pavel's Avatar
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    Default When to clean out the nest?

    Years ago my folks put a bluebird box out along the edge of the woods behind their house hoping to have bluebirds move in. (One of the ones with the front that can be opened up so you can clean the old nest out.) Alas, no luck. Though bluebirds would occasionally stop by to visit the bird feeder, they apparently had a different realestate agent, and none have ever moved in.

    Well, yesterday, while I was taking a break from doing some weeding in their backyard, my dad came around to look at a few of the plants by the shed at the back of their property. We were just chatting for a bit, standing next to said bluebird box, when he said something along the lines of "I guess I may as well take this box down -- nothing but the earwigs seems to use it." For some reason, as he said this, he dropped the latch and opened the front panel. Lo and behold, there was a nest with a black-capped chickadee. Don't know who was more surprised. My dad, me or the poor bird who was probably wondering "What the hell is going on here!?"

    I'm assuming it was a fully fledged but not yet flying juvenille as I would have expected that if that was momma, she would have panicked and flown the coop when panel was lifted and she was suddenly exposed, yes?

    So my question is, when should the nest box be cleaned out? I'm thinking either late fall or early spring.

    Would they likely use the box over the winter as shelter? And if so should the nest be left there until spring?

    Would have gone back and taken a pic, but figured if the first exposure didn't scare the lil thing off, why push our luck?

  2. #2
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    This is a good question. We have a little 'house wren' family ( I guess that is what to call them) that live in the same mud and stick nest under our porch overhang every year. I used to knock the nest down, but they just rebuilt. I stopped taking it down and now, every year, there are birds that hatch out in it. They just reuse it over and over.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Paul, Bluebirds will have 2-3 clutches per year and the box should be cleaned out after each clutch has fledged. This is coming from a New Yorker...Bluebird is our state bird! Being you are in Michigan...most likely only 2 clutches. They will start looking for boxes sometime in March. They don't use them for winter shelter for they migrate south. I have never seen one in the winter months.

    Bruce, most likely what you have nesting is a Barn Swallow. They attach their nests to rough surfaced...I had a pair nesting under my front porch with the nest attached to the stone facing of my home.

    Edit: if the box was never used by Bluebirds it may have to do with it's location.

    You want it a distance from the tree/shrub line and have it about 5 feet off the ground
    Last edited by Ron-NY; June 29th, 2008 at 12:56 PM.

  4. #4
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    I don't know about chickadees but I would leave it alone until fall early winter , I know with canaries if I mess with the nest with a chick in it that is not fledged but is feathered they panic and leave the nest to early . Can put them back but they won't stay in the nest , they turn out fine but are in a cage (no bird catchers ) Gin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron-NY View Post
    .....Bruce, most likely what you have nesting is a Barn Swallow. They attach their nests to rough surfaced...I had a pair nesting under my front porch with the nest attached to the stone facing of my home.
    ......
    S0 that is what they are. Well, they are tiny, brown/gray and cute. Both the mom and dad bird share the nest and protect it. When I go out to water the plants on the porch, they get a bit upset. I like to watch them through the window.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Default

    Swallows are good insect catchers also.
    Clean out the bluebird nest after the chicks leave. I used to live in Michagan and have had three broods in a year there.

  7. #7
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    I didn't know to clean them out in between broods. We have bluebirds in one now and martins usually in another.

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