Guest Blogger, Brenda VR., Natural Heritage Ecologist for Conservation Halton, adds to her on-going series about birds, nesting and regeneration projects all around the Conservation Halton amin office. Take a read:
The birdhouses behind the office got a bit of an upgrade recently. I finally got around to adding the predator baffles to the boxes. I had been working on that for a while but got to busy to put them up and it had been to rainy to go out and spray paint them but finally the weather cleared and I decided to get them up before the next batch of eggs was laid. I also did a bit of rearranging while up there. Previously all four boxes were in one corner of the regeneration area. This was no good for the birds as once a pair of Bluebirds claim one nestbox the others would remain empty because the pair would guard a territory for about 100m around their box and would not let any other Bluebirds nest there. We did have a pair of Tree Swallows nest there as the Bluebirds would let them nest nearby. So to maximize the space I took out two of the boxes from that corner and planned to move them to the other side. Due to the age of the boxes I replaced them with new boxes so once I finally got the baffles finished I put the new boxes up on the other side of the field. Hopefully in future years we can attract another pair of Bluebirds to nest here now that we have the boxes spaced appropriately.
The predator baffles are important to have on bird boxes as it will prevent raccoons, snakes or mice from getting into the boxes and killing the babies. Once a predator learns boxes are a good source of food they can quickly decimate all nests in an area. Also never ever attach a bird box to a tree directly, that just becomes a fast food stop for predators and rarely (if ever) will any birds survive from such a trap box. Since predator baffles can be fairly expensive for a good one (prefabricated) at the store I decided to try my hand at making them myself. I used a fairly simple design I found on the internet (see the “(Kingston) STOVEPIPE PREDATOR GUARD” halfway down this page: http://www.sialis.org/baffle.htm ). So I went to the hardware store and bought a stovepipe and used a small section of hardware cloth for the top. I then had to wash and prime the stovepipe before I could paint it (galvanized steel does not take paint!) then I painted them green and tan to blend into the natural vegetation of the regeneration area. Once dry I fitted them to the posts and finally added the new bird houses. They looked great I thought!
If you have any questions about nest box placement or proper predator protection the best website I have found is http://www.sialis.org it has a wealth of information on just about every topic.
Primed and painted
Ready to install. You need the mesh on top as a barrier for slithering or small climbing critters coming up the inside along the post and the large stovepipe part prevents bigger predators from getting a grip and climbing up the outside.
Mom Bluebird (left, and higher) and dad Bluebird (right)