Bluebird and Small Cavity Nester Conservation
Sialis - Bluebirds and other small cavity nesters



Mouse Surprise

Mouse in bluebird nest. Photo by Bet Zimmerman.

On 4/10/08, I was monitoring a new trail I have adopted, and was checking on a deep Eastern Bluebird nest I could not see into. I didn't have my mechanic's mirror with me, so I reached into the nest cup to feel for eggs. (I'd never do this if we had nestbox raiding snakes in the area.) And I felt fur. I'm lucky I wasn't bitten by the mouse that had taken up residence in this box. Notice how the top of the nest was modified with the addition of grass.

I removed the mouse and the added grass, and replaced the nest. These boxes are mounted on rough poles, so we added an upside down, plastic V-8 bottle with the bottom cut out under the box, as a temporary predator guard. I also added a small square of a"Bounce" fabric softener sheet to further deter mice. The bluebirds returned to the nest and started laying eggs. I removed the fabric softener sheet. (Do not use long term, or use those that are impregnated with Febreze, as birds are sensitive to cleaning products.)

If this box wasn't being monitored, the box would have been a lost cause for this nesting season.

Mouse takes over bluebird nest. Photo by Bet Zimmerman.
Bluebird nest. Photo by Bet Zimmerman.

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    You cannot begin to preserve any species of animal unless you preserve the habitat in which it dwells. Disturb or destroy that habitat and you will exterminate the species as surely as if you had shot it. So conservation means that you have to preserve forest and grassland, river and lake, even the sea itself. This is vital not only for the preservation of animal life generally, but for the future existence of man himself—a point that seems to escape many people.
    -Gerald Durrell, The Nature Conservancy

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Photo in header by Wendell Long.
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