Bluebirds/Babies missing about 10 days after hatching
Expert: Bluebird Bob Walshaw - 5/13/2013
Question We had a successful brood of 5 bluebirds last year - all five babies fledged and we later saw them at the feeders. This year, what we believe to be the same pair made a nest in the same nestbox (in the same location) and again, laid 5 eggs. I marked the calendar so I would know when to expect babies to fledge. I heard loud cheaping one morning (about day 8 or 9 after hatching) and within the next day or two I opened to box to check them (I had not looked in since the day I noticed all five had hatched). The nest was completely empty. No signs of a violent disturbance. Nothing. I have two dogs who may have "disposed" of evidence on the ground below, but otherwise the only thing I can come up with is that a snake got to them. I could have been off by a day or two, but at the very oldest they would have been 12 days. Is it possible they are alive and had been taken away from the nest? I did put out a lot of mealworms daily. I took out the nest hoping they would try again. Thoughts? Thank you!!!!
Answer You did the right thing to remove the nest after an attack. An undisturbed nest is usually the work of a snake, as raccoons and cats will usually disturb the nest. House Wrens and house sparrows will remove eggs and babies, but usually before they are 12 days old. And no - 12 days old is almost always too young to survive. Snakes have good memories so you need to put up a snake guard. (Google it - there are several types). And if you will send your mailing address to me at email@example.com I will send you my free Bluebird book that will make you an expert. Good luck. Bluebird Bob Walshaw. And see page 19 for why you should have more than one box.
Questions about setting up and monitoring Eastern Bluebird houses. This includes where and how to put up houses, trouble shooting, fighting predators, especially the killer house sparrows and helping other small cavity nesters such as Chickadees, Titmice, Carolina Wrens, etc. Send mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 20 page Bluebird book.
20 years with a 100+ box Bluebird trail which has been accepted as part of the Transcontinental Bluebird Trail. Talks on Bluebirds to many organizations.
Organizations North American Bluebird Society, Audubon Society local and national, Oklahoma Bluebird Society, OK Furbearers Alliance
Publications Bluebird Magazine, Birds and Blooms, Oklahoma Today and many other publications.
Education/Credentials BS, MBA, Cornell University Bird Biology course
Awards and Honors Blue Cross Ageless Hero, Red Cross Everyday Hero, North American Bluebird Society Awards, Oklahoma Bluebird Society Lifetime Award.