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Bluebirds/six bluebird chicks .... five dead


I went out this morning and returned to find no activity at the bluebird box.  I had seen mom and dad very busy these last few weeks feeding their chicks and I could hear the chicks as well.  I tapped on the box and nothing ... I opened it which I had not done as yet and found six chicks ... all dead but one.  I removed the dead chicks .... they all had some type of redness and sores on their throats and bodies.  What could this be and is there anything I can do to save the remaining chick?

I must be honest with you - I have never heard or seen any type of redness on ill or dead chicks unless this is the result of starvation which sometimes happens when predators get the parents. Has there been any insecticide spraying in the area? I would write off the one that is still alive as a rehabilitator would not want to spread a problem to other chicks.

Regarding opening the box, this should be done every week to check on progress, and then not after the chicks are 12 days old. It is about 14 days to hatching from the start of incubation, and then about 19 days to fledging after hatching after which the nest should be immediately removed (just scrape it out with a putty knife) for another nesting as the young never go back to the nest.

If you will send your mailing address to me at I will send you my free Bluebird book which will make you an expert. Good luck. Bluebird Bob Walshaw. PS - See page 19 for why you should have more than one box.


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Bluebird Bob Walshaw


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 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.

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