Bluebirds Nesting in Lazy Hill Dovecote

For many years I’ve attempted to attract bluebirds to my yard. My interest in bluebirds started when I worked as a volunteer with the Chattahoochee Nature Center. During that time I learned bluebirds had in years past, (1960’s and 70’s) dramatically decreased in number. (Image from Wikipedia)

This decrease was found to be due to use of pesticides and a loss of their natural habitat (natural nesting cavities). The loss of nesting cavities was blamed on the clearing of trees for housing developments, shopping malls, highways, and cropland. Also, wooden fence posts that had provided nesting cavities were often being replaced with metal posts. (Image below is from Help for Bluebirdsdotorg.)

As bird enthusiasts became aware of this problem and attempted to spread the word, bluebird houses were erected on golf courses, along pasture fence lines and of course, in backyards everywhere. It apparently worked, because since the 1970’s the bluebird numbers have been increasing instead of decreasing! Yea!!!

Years ago I put up a bluebird box but never saw any bluebirds and eventually the box deterioratedand fell off the tree where I had foolishly mounted it. ย Later I found out it’s not a good idea to mount them on trees…predators can easily access the nest by coming down the tree. No wonder I never got a nesting of bluebirds…thank goodness the bluebirds were smarter than me!

Last summer I decided to try again and this time I did it the right way, mounting the house to a free standing pole. Wrens immediately took up residence in the home. (LOL) ย According to all the “experts” you are supposed to toss their nest out. ~SIGH~ I just couldn’t do it. I know…I’m a wimp.

One day as I pulled into my driveway, I noticed a bluebird perched at an opening of one of the many cavities in an “ornamental” dove cote I have mounted on a pole in my perennial garden . I guess no one told the bluebirds that the house was bought for ornamental purposes, because they made themselves right at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

To say I was excited is an understatement! I immediately rushed out and purchased mealwormsfrom a local birding store to assist with their busy feeding schedule. One afternoon I managed to capture a few pics of Mom and Dad Bluebird feeding their babies mealworms from the tray I attached to the dove cote. ย (Update: ย Since then I moved the tray to the lantern about 10 feet away. ย Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird didn’t like me coming so close to add more meal worms to the tray each day.)

Mealworms are not really worms; they are the larval stage of the mealworm. (Click Ctrl + on your keyboard to enlarge pics.)

Dad Bluebird is gathering a mouthful of worms for his babies.

Bluebirds Nesting in Lazy Hill Dovecote

 

Mom is checking on the babies while Dad is preparing dinner.

Bluebirds Nesting in Lazy Hill Dovecote

 

If you look closely, you can see the worms in dad’s mouth…

Bluebirds in Dovecote

 

Over the summer Mom and Dad bluebird nested THREE times in the dove cote. This is amazing because all the information I’ve read states they will usually nest twice in a season and rarely, three times. I guess they knew a good thing when they saw it; I kept them in mealworms all during the three nestings.

One of the main reasons for supplying mealworms, is because it keeps the birds from having to go long distances from the nest in search of food. The less distance they have to travel away from the nest, the less chance they will fall prey to a predator or some other calamity.

At the risk of completely grossing you out and losing you as readers of my blog forever, I thought I’d share some pics I took of how the worms are shipped and how I store 5000 live worms for a month.

The worms arrive within 2-3 days of placing the order. They are shipped in a box with holes which allows for ventilation.

The worms are inside the bag all mixed in with the newspaper with which they are shipped.

Meal worms for my bluebirds

This is what 5000 mealworms looks like:

Meal worms for my bluebirds

I store the mealworms in the refrigerator in a plastic container that contains 2-3 inches of a mixture of wheat bran, corn meal and/or oat bran. I mixed in a little oatmeal, as well. While in the refrigerator, the larvae go into a dormant state. Meal worms can’t crawl up the sides so there is no danger of them getting out. I leave the lid slightly ajar to allow for ventilation.

You can keep mealworms in a refrigerator that is set around a temperature of 40 degrees for several months, although my birds go through 5000 mealworms in a month easily. Once a week, it is recommended you take the mealworms out of the refrigerator for a day, cut up a carrot or an apple and place it into the container. The worms will warm up quickly and will feed all day on the carrots or apples. Bluebirds Nesting in Lazy Hill Dovecote

I also offer the worms to the other birds who come to my feeders. Tufted titmouse, chickadees, wrens and many other birds really appreciate the help during their nesting season.

Here you can see Mom bluebird fluttering down to get some mealworms for her babies while dad is perched on the roof of the dove cote watching the crazy woman with the camera inching nearer.

Bluebirds Feeding Babies in Dovecote

Now Mom is feeding the babies and Dad continues to stand guard.

Bluebirds Nesting in Lazy Hill Dovecote

 

In the pic below, Dad is feeding the babies this time. Mom and Dad bluebird share the feeding duties throughout the nesting season.

Bluebirds with babies in a dovecote

Bluebirds are a member of the Thrush family and are related to the American Robin. The Eastern Bluebird, the Western Bluebird and the Mountain Bluebird are the three types that make their home here in North America. The bluebird we have here in Georgia is the Eastern Bluebird. Bluebirds help us because they eat insects like cutworms and grasshoppers that can cause extensive damage to our gardens and to crops.

If you would like to learn more about bluebirds, here are two excellent books:

You will also find additional information about bluebirds at The North American Bluebird Society’s website: http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/ During the nesting season, you can watch live “nest cams” at http://watch.birds.cornell.edu/nestcams/home/index. Thanks for stopping by and if you enjoyed today’s post…would love to hear from you…just click on the “comment” link below and leave me a message.




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Comments

  1. RetiredAtLast says:

    Love this post. DH and I feed the birds and have two bluebird houses. They nest every year, and we try to clean out the boxes before the male starts prospecting for a nesting place before spring.

  2. I guess bluebirds aren’t the same as bluejays. Because bluejay’s are bossy, loud and nasty little buggers that have taken over my yard. Of course there is plenty of room but now the robin’s are afraid to show up.
    You are so sweet to feed the birds with (shudders) worms.

  3. Susan, super post! We love bluebirds and have had our share of traumas and triumphs with them. Found out the hard way that they do not like even clematis surrounding their house (the clearer the area the better, for sure)! Our birds did not even touch the mealworms! Weird! And, this year, the nasty English Sparrows broke and removed everyone of their eggs from the box…we were so mad…but that is nature. There is supposed to be some kind of sparrow ‘scarer’ out there, so we are getting one for next year! ๐Ÿ™‚ Continued good luck for the next year in bluebird watching!! Maybe we will have them back too! Rosie (aka niknnora)

  4. Susan, I found you. I have been looking since you left a sweet message on my blog. I just love your porch. And I read through your posts, and “gasp” what a beautiful home you have. I’m going to add you to my blog list now I have found you. Love J

  5. nikkicrumpet says:

    I’ve had several feeders since I moved to Massachusetts. We enjoy the birds very much. Every now and then we will see a blue bird pass by…but have never had any stick around. Now that I see your creepy crawly meal plan…I’m pretty sure I’ll NEVER encourage them lol…EEEEWWWWWW. It’s a good thing I know what a lovely classy lady you are…because…EWWWWWW lol. I’m glad somebody out there is sweet enough and dedicated enough to do that, because…EWWWWWWWWW

    Have a great mealywormfeedingfrenzy kinda day!

  6. jerseygirl211 says:

    Susan,

    I came here to tell you that I posted my table setting, I had the sound turned up and I got goosebumps from the song playing. SONG OF THE SOUTH is my all time favorite movie. ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep waiting for them to release it so I can buy it, but I doubt they ever will. ๐Ÿ™

    Loved your post today, I didn’t know about your interest in Bluebirds, I have something I’ll have to take a picture of and post for you.

    I can’t wait to see everyone’s table settings.

    Hugs
    ‘D’

  7. What a great post Susan. Clay and I love feeding the birds and I plan to add birdhouses early next spring. I may just have to buy mealworms. It wouldn’t bother me at all. I did manage to atract a few hummingbirds this year. Birdwatching is an awesome thing! I hope you post more about birding.

  8. Jersey girl, they will not release Song of the South in the U.S. because it is onsidered “racist.” But they did release it in Japan. I have a copy (it’s in English), and it’s a hoot with Japanese subtitles on all the songs. You might check into the Japanese version.

  9. decorator101 says:

    Susan.. what an interesting post today.. I wasn’t aware of that so much went into feeding the bluebirds..I’ve heard you speak of mealworm many times and had no idea that is what it actually was.. gotta tell ya it did gross me out to think I would have to keep that in my refrigerator..I know the birds appreciate all the hard work and deligence you show them.. can’t wait to share this info with dh…I know he’ll love it.. hugs ~lynne~

  10. Susan, this was so interesting. I cannot imagine that blue birds everywhere aren’t flying into your dove cote. I’m sure that “word of beek” has spread that the room service is excellent! I do not know how you have time to do all you do, but I am so glad you share it all with us. Thank you. Laurie, a/k/a bargainhunr

  11. jerseygirl211 says:

    Okay Susan, I posted something on my blog just for you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Birds…beautiful, worms, nope, not going there! If there is a bird in my yard, it has to bring its own worm.

  13. Anonymous says:

    How lovely to have blue birds in your yard…they are so pretty.
    love, bj

  14. Life on Bonnie Lane says:

    The bluebirds were so cool! Love how you were able to get close enough to take those fantastic pictures! The meal worms though…oh shudder!!! And in the fridge? I know they can’t get out, but still…ugh! lol

    Glad you’re so sweet though to supply your birds with a good healthy dinner every day!

    Kady

  15. please stop by the tuesday extra post on my blog…there is an award to give you there

  16. So excited to have found your blog! Cindy (My Romantic Home) blogged about you today because of your tablescapes and they are beautiful but I love reading about the bluebirds! I am adding you to my favs.

  17. Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity says:

    Susan, I am so happy you started a blog that I could jump for joy. I love your tablescapes. And we love to feed the birds. We don’t have bluebirds in our area. I wish we did!! You are doing a great job with your blog. I can see it comes naturally to you!! Please.. come by and visit me often. I’ll be back!! Hugs, Terrie

  18. lvroftiques says:

    Susan I found this so interesting and informative. I think it’s wonderful of you to be such a great friend to the birds!! And a lot of work it is! No wonder your birds keep coming back…They stay in the equivelent of The Mansion On Turtle Creek!! Where do you find the time my friend? Vanna

  19. Susan, what a great post. I love bluebirds. I live in Charlotte, NC and have a lot of them around my house. I just moved in so, I’m just getting started on birdhouses. What a inspiration you are. Love all your tablescapes etc. Thanks for all the post!!!

  20. Rebecca says:

    Oh WOW!!! Thanks for directing me to this post Susan! I’m going to have the best time going back over it and rereading it AGAIN!!! Wonderful information and pictures! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Rebecca says:

    Susan, I love your dovecote. I’ve never heard of that before. Are there individual areas in each hole, where each family would have their own *house*?? Do you have other bird nests in it at the same time or just one family at a time? Also, where did you get your dovecote? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Rebecca! This one has several compartments and they all partitioned off. You can read more about dove cotes in this older post:
      https://betweennapsontheporch.net/a-dovecote-in-the-garden-landscape/ When I bought this one, I bought it to just be ornamental but the bluebirds had other ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚ Doves apparently will all nest together in real dove cotes but doves don’t nest in this one, just the bluebirds. The bluebirds build fake nests in the other compartments. They will start one to discourage any other birds from trying to build in them but they really only build in one. Once a year I clean out all the nests so they have a fresh place to build. They love this dovecote and just move around building in a different compartment each time they nest.

    • Oh, forgot to answer where I bought it. I bought mine from a dealer online that sold Lazy Hill birdfeeders but I don’t they are in business anymore. If you google Lazy Hill Dove Cote, you’ll find several places online that sell it. It used to be made of wood, now they make the house from vinyl. I wonder if birds will nest in it with it made from vinyl…hopefully they still will. The roof on mine is cedar, now they use redwood. The company has been sold/bought a couple of times now so it’s changed a bit over the years.

      • Thanks for ALL the interesting information Susan. It has been so helpful! I’m going to try to locate a dove cote for my backyard. Thanks again for your great posts! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Linda S. in NE says:

    I enjoyed this post very much, Susan. Whenever you write about the wildlife around your home, you accompany the post with beautiful photos, so what’s not to like?
    Just earlier tonight I saw a herd of about 40 white-tail deer run down the golf course fairway that butts up to my backyard. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching wildlife, so post about it all you want.

  23. Hi Susan, thanks for note on Dove Coat. I was actually thinking about the Rooster lamp. Maybe I misread since I could not find it at DoveCoat farms. Please let me know if I am confused about it. This was a great post. I love having the birds in the yard, there are folks around here who build and sell very simple looking blue bird boxes. I am going to pick up one of the books you recommend to see if I can find any info on how they do in this area. We are in Northeast PA and get most of the usual suspects. However I have wanted to have blue birds for such a long time. Maybe this is the time to try. Thanks

    • Hi Mary Anne, The rooster lamp is available here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1X26ycX I do love bluebirds. If you buy a couple of bluebird boxes, just make sure you put them where they are not near trees or a bushes or a fence where a predator may try to get in the box. Also, they need to face out into a clearing. If you start seeing any around, put out some crushed up peanuts or live meal worms and they will love it!

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