Fledging bluebirds: A few things to know

Young bluebird leaving the nest. Photo: Eric Davis.

How long before bluebirds fledge: Age of nest departure 

According to Benedict Pinkowsky (1974c), who monitored 184 nestling eastern bluebirds in Michigan, young bluebirds fledged between days 16 and 22 after hatching. Nestling bluebirds leave the nest on average 19 days after hatching, based on all 184 nestlings in the study. 

But there is a good deal of variation.

The table below includes all 184 bluebirds included in the monitoring study and the ages at which they naturally fledged the nest. 

Number of nestlings that left the  nestAge at which a nestling left the  nest
13 (7%)16 days
10 (5%)17 days
40 (22%)18 days
66 (36%)19 days
21 (11%)20 days
16 (9%)21 day
18 (10%)22 days

The table and graph indicate that:

  • Baby eastern bluebirds begin to leave the nest as early as day 16 and continue until day 22. 
  • Most young bluebirds leave the nest between days 18 and 22 (88%). 
  • Nestlings do not leave the nest before day 16. 

Young bluebirds typically fledge earlier in the spring than they do in the summer

Some pairs raise two broods in the northern United States and Canada; one in the spring and one in the summer. Other pairs raise only a single brood in the spring or summer and do not attempt a second nest (Peakall, 1970). 

On instances where bluebirds reared a second brood, ornithologists found that spring broods took an average of 19.39 days to fledge while summer broods took an average of 18.63 days after hatching. Thus, baby bluebirds leave the nest later in the spring and earlier in the summer.

The most likely reason for such differences in age at the moment of fledging is that food is more scarce in the cold spring of northern latitudes than in the summer. In other words, baby bluebirds take a little longer to mature in the spring and be ready for fledging.

What time of day do bluebirds fledge?

According to studies of bird nesting biology, the most critical time in a bird’s development is the transition from nestling to fledgling. Young bluebirds are most at risk of predation during this period, both as nestlings and as fledglings. Predation is most common during this period.

The risk of predation is what drives the timing of fledgling, so young bluebirds must leave the nest early enough in the day to be able to find a safe perch to hide for a few days.

Early fledging would allow them to find a place to hide, even on the ground.

As with most other studies of fledgling birds, baby bluebirds tend to leave their nest around six hours after sunrise or before noon, given that weather conditions are favorable. 

In some cases, nestlings are not strong enough to fly and fall to the ground, where they are at risk of predation by wild predators, cats, and dogs. Early fledging would allow them time to find a place to hide, even on or near the ground.

How does one know when baby bluebirds are ready to fledge? 

Within 12 days of hatching, baby bluebirds are restless inside the nest, able to preen themselves and stretch their wings. They begin to peek out of the entrance hole at the world around them when they “begin to think about leaving the nest.”

On day 16, the baby bluebirds appear to compete for a chance to peek through the entrance hole. Several heads can be seen inside the nesting box. Nestlings can begin to fledge on day  16.

Nestling bluebirds can fly for a short distance by day 14, but they never leave the nest before day 16 unless something causes them to do so.

Starting about day 15, the parents decrease food delivery rates to encourage nest departure. As a result of less feeding, the nestling loses some weight, which facilitates flight. Meanwhile, the parents call the nestlings from outside the cavity to encourage them to leave.

Young bluebird taking a peek at the outside world, indicating it will fledge soon. Photo: Hawk Center of Arkansas.

The first flight

The first flight out of the nest is awkward, in a straight line, with nonstop wingbeats. On the first flight, a fledgling wants to reach a perch as soon as possible. Typically, the parents accompany the fledglings on their first flight and seem to remember where the fledgling landed. They will return to that spot to continue feeding each newly-fledged bluebird.

During the first flight, the distance covered varies from 10 to 55 yards. Some birds do not make it very far and fall to the ground because they miss a landing perch or cannot fly long distances. 

Upon leaving the nest, fledglings give a characteristic call, which the parents also use. This call helps the parents to track down and locate the fledgling. 

This is the call that fledgling
bluebirds repeat constantly after
leaving the nest.

Premature Fledging

Premature fledging occurs when young bluebirds leave the nest too early when they are still unable to maintain sustained flight. Premature fledging can be caused by predators attacking the nestlings or by humans opening the nesting box after day 12 after hatching

Fledging that occurs before day 16 can be considered premature. Pinkowsky’s 1974c studies showed that none of the 184 nestlings he monitored fled before day 16 after hatching.

Human-induced premature fledging

Nestling bluebirds crouch as a defense mechanism when a nesting box is opened for regular monitoring. Nestlings typically change their defense mechanism from crouching to jumping off the nest when they become more physically coordinated by day 12. 

Nesting boxes should never be opened for any reason after day 11 or 12 after hatching to prevent accidental premature fledging. 

Fledgling on the ground due to leaving the nest prematurely. Photo: Ted Peterson

How can I help a fledgling bluebird if I find one on the ground?

Often, young bluebirds fall to the ground the first time they leave the nest. It may be because they are not strong enough for sustained flight, missed a perch on their first attempt, or were forced to fledge prematurely.

Fledglings on the ground are at high risk of being preyed upon by predators such as foxes, raccoons, cats, and dogs.

If you are going to help a fledgling bluebird on the ground:

  1. Check to see if it can fly up to a tree branch or bush on its own. If you approach the nestling on the ground, it will fly away and get higher to a branch above the ground.
  2. If the fledgling cannot take flight and falls back to the ground, try helping it to climb up a tree or bush. Catch it (see below) and toss it above a low tree or bush so that it lands on it and perches on a branch.
  3. Put it back in the nesting box or cavity where it came from. Return it to the nest after catching it. 

It is natural for the nestling to immediately get out of the box and continue running away from you.  Put the nestling inside the box and seal the entrance with a rug or a sock for five to ten minutes to give the bird time to settle down. Then remove the plug to allow the parents to continue feeding the nestling. The chick would need two or three more days in the nest to gain the strength to leave the nest on its own and reach a branch above the ground on the next attempt.

How to catch a baby bluebird on the ground

Assess the situation and identify the areas where you do not want the fledgling to fly or run to. For example, you may have a pond nearby, a place where cats roam freely, or an area you believe is dangerous to the fledgling if you miss catching it.

Get a towel (works best) and approach the fledgling from the direction you don’t want it to run or fly to. The fledgling will likely escape from you in the opposite direction from where you are approaching it. 

When you are close enough, throw the towel on top of the bird. It will run away if you get too close; you won’t hurt it. Throw the towel quickly from a distance. 

Keep the fledgling under the towel by placing your hand over the towel. Holding the bird with one hand, grab the fledgling gently with your other hand underneath the towel.

Recently fledged young eastern bluebird sitting on its first perch. Photo: Sue Crowell.

After fledging, what do baby bluebirds do, and where do they go?

After leaving the nest, they remain in hiding for about a week. The parents continue to feed them there.

Baby bluebirds tend to get closer together as they gain strength. Siblings are often seen huddled together on a single branch. When they are close together, it is easy for the parents to feed them.  

After fledging, young bluebirds continue to grow.

Young bluebirds are not fully developed when they leave the nest. Their wings are short and rounded and still growing, the same with their short tail. When young bluebirds leave the nest, their wing and tail feathers still have unsheathed bases.

After fledging, the wing and tail feathers grow to adult size in 35 to 40 days. During this period, the juvenile ceases to be fed by the parents and becomes nutritionally independent

How long do bluebird fledglings stay with their parents?

After fledging, young bluebirds stay with their parents for about three weeks. A field study found that the parents stop feeding the chicks around day 40 after hatching. 

Within two weeks after leaving the nest, the fledglings begin to feed themselves alongside their parents. Following the parents, they gradually take less and less food from them as they learn to forage for themselves. 

When they become nutritionally independent, spring fledglings leave their parents’ territory. The parents become aggressive towards their fledglings, perhaps to encourage total independence and start another brood. 

The fledglings from the second (summer) brood tend to stay at their parents’ territory longer, often remaining together over the winter

Fledglings bluebirds join flocks of other nutritionally independent youngsters. Each flock of youngsters is different in size and moves about the landscape without being attached to one particular area.

The parents continue feeding the young bluebird anywhere they land. Photo: Sue Crowell.

Do bluebirds fledge at the same time?

When all nestlings have grown equally, they usually fledge within a few hours. Nestlings who are behind in their development take longer to leave the nest. 

Nestlings develop at different rates. Some individuals may develop up to two days ahead of their siblings despite hatching on the same day. Most nestlings have long enough wings and other measurements to fledge, but those falling behind need one or two more days to develop and be ready to fledge.

After fledging, do bluebird parents sleep with their babies?

Parents do not sleep with their fledglings. For the first few days after leaving the nest, the fledglings remain hidden in separate locations. During the day, their parents know exactly where to find them to feed them, but they retreat to roost at night in one of the several cavities they typically use on their territory. 

Adult-sized fledglings that can feed themselves join flocks composed of other youngsters. Photo: Hungry Little Birdie.

Do fledgling bluebirds return to their nests?

Fledgling bluebirds do not return to the nest after they have fledged. They are physically unable to return to the nest until they gain flight strength and maneuverability.

When nestlings leave the nest, they can only rudimentarily fly. They can only fly short distances and must land on something. Experienced parents make flying in and out of the cavity look easy, but a fledgling would have difficulty doing so.

Once they leave the nest, they perch on branches and remain living in trees until they are old enough to find cavities to roost. Some fledglings may land on top of their natal nesting box about two weeks after leaving the nest as they follow their parents.

References:

  • Martin TE . 1993. Nest predation among vegetation layers and habitat types: revising the dogmas. Am Nat. 141:897–913.
  • Pinkowski, Benedict. 1997. Breeding Adaptations in the Eastern Bluebird. C., The Condor, Vol. 79, No. 3, pp. 289-302 (14 pages) Published By: Oxford University Press.
  • Plissner, J. H. and P. A. Gowaty. 1996. Patterns of natal dispersal, turnover, and dispersal costs in eastern bluebirds. Animal Behaviour 51:1307-1322.

160 thoughts on “Fledging bluebirds: A few things to know”

    1. This year I finally convinced some western bluebirds to nest. The second brood is just about to fledge. The first batch had 7 eggs 6 of which hatched a couple months ago or so. I feed mealworms to them and still routinely see Mom, Dad and all 6 babies at the feeder. They are so used to me that they will fly to the feeder when they see me. The second brood was 5 eggs but only 3 hatched. As mentioned, they will fledge any day. It is interesting to watch the first brood interact with the second brood. At least 3 of the first babies have been seen feeding the second babies. I have a camera in the nest and it has been interesting to see the first babies learn how to feed the second babies. Yesterday, one had a mealworm completely perpendicular with his beak. He (yes both female and male babies feed the new babies) tried for what seemed like minutes (probably 20 seconds) to feed it to each of the 3 babies. Each time it was too wide to fit in the baby’s mouth. He finally gave up, ate the mealworm himself, and left the nest. I have enjoyed my summer with the bluebirds and learned so much. I have hours of video and thousand of pictures. I am also building more houses for the neighbors.

        1. Good morning!
          I live in south side Virginia! I have had 2 broods so far this season! I am currently watching the second brood think about fledging. I have been reading your comments and have learned so much!

          1. Same here I’ve had the parents for 3yrs an they faithfully have a brood twice a yr.. I’m in Richmond Virginia 🦋

      1. Where did you find a camera small enough to place in the bluebird house? We would like to do that with ours.

          1. Lisa Phegn-Gagnon

            My blue bird box with 5 eggs was knocked down by a fallen tree branch.
            The parents returned and entered the box when we reinstalled it the morning after the evening storm.
            We checked the box 4 days later. The eggs are gone. What do you think happened. I don’t believe they fledged.
            Should I clean out the box? Haven’t seen mom or dad.

          2. Hi Lisa,

            It appears that the eggs disappearance was unrelated to the earlier events. Perhaps a snake took them?? If the eggs are gone, it is safe to clean up the birdhouse and reinstall it. The sooner the better.

            Good luck,
            Al

          3. I used a wyse camera that can be purchased at The Home Depot for less than $30. It needs power and to be close enough to connect to wifi. I just cut a hole in the roof, screwed down the camera and then cutbsome wood and made a cover for the camera. It works great

        1. Christine Becker

          We bought our wildlife camera at Wild Birds Unlimited, they have a website where you can purchase it if there isn’t a store in your area.

        2. Tom, we went to a local bird feed store where we buy our mealworms. Many different types of cameras. We have one and it’s amazing watching the bluebirds in it.

        3. JoAnn Turner

          You can look at utube put in “ outdoor blink camera for bluebird house” it shows you everything you need to know. My husband did it for me. I love it ! So cool to have a window to the “hand of God” everyday ! Wow ! Amazing how God created even the birds !

        4. We ordered our whole setup from Green Backyard. Their app is a little flaky, but the camera takes great photos and videos. I use the IPCams app for monitoring on a daily basis. If I’m traveling, I use ICCams, which is the app recommended by Green Backyard. The only advantage it has is that you can monitor it remotely whereas the IPCams app only allows me to see when I’m within range of my WIFI.

        5. I’ve used a Blink came tra from Amazon for 3 years and it works great. I’ve modified the top so that it lifts up like a shoe box. I used metal tape (like a plumber uses to fasten a pipe to a wall

      2. My pair had 4 broods last year and she is on her second one this year. I love watching the first babies feed the little ones in the nest. I put up a birdhouse as decoration on my porch last year and they made it their home. So I went and bought a bluebird house after the first ones fledged. I feed all of the ones that come around meal worms and make sure they have fresh water. I love it!!! So peaceful to watch.

      3. I so enjoyed reading your article. I too have watched from outside only and enjoyed watching them grow until they popped their heads outside before they flew. I knew little about the fledging bit so it was nice to read. Where did you place your feeding station. I found that so cute and I want to do it. As old folks we get such a lot of enjoyment from all the birds and we have so many. Any photos and ideas you can help us with would be so nice so next year when they arrive in my five separate boxes we may put feeding stations on them. But where and when do you put out the worms? Jasmine

        1. I put my feeder out when I see bluebirds getting interested in the box. I think it makes the real estate more appealing to birdhouse-hunters. Mine is on a pole about thirty feet in front of the bluebird house. I use dried meal worms that I buy online. They love them! Right now I’m watching a pair feeding a fledgling in a maple tree, and they’re also building a new nest in the box, for their second brood. It’s May and we’re in Atlanta.

      4. This Spring is the first I have witnessed the whole process of hatching, incubation and next almost ready to fledge. I hope I am able to witness the fledgling process and help should they need it. I only have the one nesting house and it is close to our house with two feeders about 2 feet across, I think mom and dad feel safe with so many other birds flying around and constantly at the feeders. This process has been a bit nerve racking but a amazing to witness.

    2. This year I noticed the first set helping the parents feed the second set. This has been going on for about 4 days now. The second set haven’t fledged yet. It amazing to see this take place.

      1. We have a bluebird house on our fence with 2nd round of bluebirds. Now there is a mockingbird nest next to our patio about 60 feet from bluebird house. The mockingbirds continually Chase the bluebirds from entering their house. What can be done to discourage this?

        1. Hi Jo,

          I am not sure there is much you can do. The mockingbird may see the bluebird as a threat to, perhaps its nest. In spite of being harassed by the mockingbird, the bluebirds will find their way to get to their nest every time they need to do so. Hopefully, the mockingbird’s egg hatch soon and they get busy finding food for their young and stop bothering the bluebirds.

          Good luck,
          Al.

    3. Yes my first brood in Charleston sc assisted feeding the second and third brood in the nest box.

  1. Hi Heidi,

    Yes, it is not common, but sometimes one or two older siblings (of the year’s first brood) help raise their younger siblings. This happens to pairs that have double broods.

    What is somewhat contradictory is that the parents that attempt a second brood often drive the first brood away from the territory when the fledglings are nutritionally independent; perhaps the parents want to focus on the next brood.

    Yet, the parents would benefit from having some help raising the second brood.

    I read that older siblings help as a practice run. They will be able to breed the next year.

    Do you have helpers at one of your nesting boxes? How many helpers?

    Thank you for visiting.

    Al

    1. My nest of bluebirds fledged this morning. The two babies spent a lot of time checking out the world from the birdhouse door during the previous four days.

      During the last few weeks, there have been at least two females feeding the brood.

      1. Hi Christine,

        Great, two more bluebirds to the world!

        Two females feeding young is unusual, but it happens. I wonder if you saw the two females feeding the young while they were still in the box, or the second female appeared only after the young fledged.

        Thanks.

        Dave

        1. Two females were feeding the young in my nest box. There were three babies and all disappeared after the young fledged. This is the second year they have nested in a round ceramic birdhouse. It is so much fun to watch them.

    2. We had older siblings help out with the current brood for the first time this year. We saw 3 siblings from the first brood around the house at one time (4 fledged). We’re not sure if all helped with the feeding, but there was definitely very consistent feeding by the older sibling(s).

    3. This summer my wife and I also observed western bluebird fledglings tending to their parent’s second clutch. I was surprised great to see that confirmed on this site. We did not see the parents try to chase away the first-clutch fledglings. Rather they tended to gather on communal perches. In the past I’ve had a greater affinity to mountain bluebirds, but I think this summer’s observations have change my attitudes toward there western cousins.

      1. Alfredo Begazo

        Hi Barry,

        Yes, parents chasing the first brood away seems to happen in an unpredictable manner. Some parents do it and some do not. My personal opinion is that it depends on the habitat quality. I good habitat with plenty of food and good rains during the time they are feeding their young, may lead the parents to chase the older fledglings away; they do not need them. In not-so-good habitats or dry periods where insects are hard to come by, they need help, and let them stay to help. This is personal opinion.

        I’ve never seen a Mountain Bluebird, I am in Florida. They look great though.

        Al

  2. Are there “safe perches” we can build near the box for protection from predators? the Mom and Dad have been really busy feeding and protecting ..at least 5 babies.

    1. Hi Joan, I am not sure perches near the nesting box are necessary. Any perch intended for your bluebirds is likely to be used by predators as well. I don’t think there is a need for any additional perch. Your bluebirds chose the nesting site based on the current conditions, and they appear to be successful with what they have.

      It is probably best not to interfere, particularly now when they are feeding the young, which is a risky period for predation. Baffles and predator deterrents on the pole that sustain the box are the best defense against predators.

      Regards,

      Al

      1. Tami connor

        Also beware of cowbirds laying eggs in your bluebird house. I had on last year. Before I knew what it was it hatched. It filled the house in three days. I took too off and let it out.

  3. I’ve noticed other birds sitting on the fence and even on the nesting box. The babies should be fledging any day now. Will the other birds attack the babies?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      No, those birds near the nesting box are doing their own things. They are not a threat to the fledglings. Unless one of them is a hawk or other predatory birds likely to attack newly fledged baby bluebirds.

      Also, I doubt those birds are looking into taking the nesting box as it is now a bit late for any bird to start a new nest.

  4. We recently had a bluebird couple build a nest in a birdhouse that’s only about 3 ft from the ground, in our flower garden about 10 ft from out house. We watched for weeks as the couple flew in and out of the house’s hole. Eventually, we saw little heads peeking through the hole and the parents flying back and forth constantly feedin them. Always a flurry of parental activity throughout the day and early evening bring food.
    Then , one day earlier this week, there was no activity. No parents. So we assumed the nestlings had fledged. For three or four days there has been no signs of bluebirds. No activity. I had been reading that we are supposed to remove the nest and clean the birdhouse….but yesterday around 5:30 pm and again today at the same time , the parents have come back. No food in their mouths, but they each take a turn looking into the entrance hole — just their heads. And only one look each. The female perches on top of the birdhouse for a minute or two as well. Then they fly off.
    What does this parental behavior mean? Did something happen to the nestlings and they did not fledge? I haven’t wanted to get closer than 4 ft away from the birdhouse, so I can’t really see inside the house, but if they’re alive inside they aren’t getting fed.
    What should I do? What’s going on? And..when do I have to clean out the box, because it’s wooden, decorative, and there’s no way to open it to clean it.
    Thank you for your advice. I’m so worried.
    Lynn

  5. Hi Lynn,

    If the chicks were peeking out through the nesting box hole, chances are they have fledged. They likely are sitting at separate spots, and the parents are feeding them. Right about now, since the time they apparently left the nest, they should be getting better at following the parents around rather than waiting for them to deliver the food. As to why the parents came back to check inside the nest, cavity-nesting birds do that. After all the chicks have fledged, they still come back to see if there are any chick left in the cavity. Although you saw the adult birds nearly a week after the chicks apparently fledged…this is a little different. Could they be a different pair of adults just checking the nesting box, maybe? Or just the parents checking the box for some reason.

    Question: Right after the activity stopped, did you see the parents persistently coming to the nesting box with food? If this was the case, the parents were trying to feed the young in the nest because there aren’t any other fledglings to feed elsewhere. This could indicate that predators took the chicks. But if they disappeared altogether, it is more likely that they fledged.

    Regarding approaching the box to see what is in there and cleaning it up, go ahead and do it. At this point, it is most likely that there is nothing in the box. You can use a small mirror and look inside before proceeding.

    Do not worry about disturbing the parents. Bluebirds are quite tolerant. Also, they are not likely to start another nesting attempt at this point in time. It is too late.
    I hope this helps.

    Regards,

    Al

    1. Hi Al,
      Thank you so much. This info helped tremendously. No, we didn’t see parents with food after the activity stopped, so we believe they all fledged successfully. Today, we opened the birdhouse and a very neat, square pine needle nest was inside. I removed it carefully, intact.
      I’m cleaning the inside with a week solution of distilled white vinegar and water, instead of bleach. I hope that’s okay. After letting the interior dry, and screwing back the bottom, should I put the nest back in? Or Is there a proper way to dispose of it?
      We were so lucky to have a pair nesting this year. We have bluebirds here in NH year round, and at our feeders ( we take the feeders down June – Sept). It’s amazing they nested in this silly little kitschy decorative old birdhouse only 3 or 4 ft from the ground inside our wildflower garden near some 6’ tall miscanthus grasses.
      Thanks again.
      Lynn

      1. Hi Lynn,

        Regarding your question about putting the nest back, you don’t need to do that and it is better to dispose of if. The reason for this is that the nest may have parasites and their eggs that may hatch when the bluebirds return to use the box. This could increase the parasite load they normally have.

        Also, bluebirds build a nest on top of the last year’s nest, which elevates the new nest placing it closer to the entrance whole and easier to reach by predator.

        Is there a proper way to dispose of it? I would either recycle it in you compost pile if you have one or break it apart and put it where there is more pine needles. Some folks put them in the garbage can.

        About your nesting box, perhaps it would be a good idea elevating it and setting up a baffle or other predator guard. It appears that the height of the nest from the ground is rather low. Your bluebirds were successful at your yard and nesting box and they are likely to return the next season.

        Happy bluebirding.

        Al.

        1. What kind of bird feeder do you use and how close to the bluebird birdhouse do you put the bird feeder?

          Also, how close can you put birdhouses together?

          1. Hi Becky,
            Bluebirds love mealworms and these are usually offered in small bowls that go on a platform feeder.

            Regarding how close can bluebird houses can be installed, it is recommended that houses are installed at least 100 feet apart or more. Nesting pairs are territorials and will not tolerate other pair approaching a birdhouse that is too close to the one they are using.

            If the birdhouses are blocked from a clear view of each other, you can get away with installing bird houses at a closer distances.

            I hope this helps.

            Regards,

            Al

  6. The nestbox chosen this year is just above a 10′ area that gets extremely wet in this monsoonish rain/thunderstorms we’re having in the NE. The chicks are about 10 days old now I think…so I’ll stop monitoring. But what about the storm puddle? If it’s wet on any day after day 16 do you think I should put a tarp down or something in case they fall to the ground?

    1. Hi Thalia,

      While the puddle formation is something unusual, I don’t believe you should be overly concerned about it. First of all, I imagine that there are puddles everywhere. It would be impossible to predict where fledglings are going to land when they leave the nest. Perhaps more important is the fact that only a small percentage of young bluebirds fledge prematurely and fall to the ground, unless they are forced to do so.

      It is a good Idea that you are stopping monitoring the nest. This will help young bluebirds take their time and leave the nest when they are ready to do so, which means they are unlikely to fall to the ground. They will do just fine.

      Regards,

      Al

  7. Hi,
    I just stumbled on this site and want to share my experience with bluebird broods at my home in Raleigh, NC. This is my 4th year of new families of bluebirds in my nesting house – clearly they love this space and the food/care I provide.

    This year my THIRD brood are about to fledge (today is day 11, and I was searching for information regarding fledging …& fortunately found you!)
    Parents (and I) are feeding mealworms almost continually.

    When these nestlings fledge, the parents may have a 4th family ?? I’m told the ending for nest monitoring in this area is end of August.

    Bluebirds have so much to teach humans about how to care for one another and parent their young. 💌

    1. Hi Carol,

      Glad to hear that your bluebirds keep coming back! When they find a safe nesting site and they succeed at raising a brood, they usually return to it. In your case, it is even better because you are feeding them.

      Yes, when they fledge the parents will have a fourth brood/family. However, the family ties last until the fledglings become nutritionally independent and join flocks of other youngsters. In some cases, fledglings from a year’s earlier brood sticks around its natal territory and helps the parents raise the next brood; the helper’s siblings.

      It is fun to see bluebirds every year to raise a new brood.

      Happy bluebirding.

      Al.

      1. Hi Al,
        Thank you for your reply. Your information is very helpful. How interesting it is to observe increased vigilance in daddy pecking away other birds, squirrels, etc. entering the wide area where the nestlings will soon emerge…. very serious with a Blue Jay!!
        (I hope to be able to actually see at least one of the six fledge!) Clearly he is in charge!

        Also, I see evidence of earlier family members visiting the feeders, as you suggest.

        Yes, bluebirding is great fun, and I’m enjoying sharing observations with neighbors.

        Again, thanks!
        Carol

    2. Phyllis Palmer

      Hi Carol, we are at the NC coast and just had our first brood of five to fledge. We too fed ours mealworms. Before the babies hatched we fed adults dried mealworms. After eggs hatched we fed live ones. We were not sure the babies could digest dried ones. Do you or anyone know? We tried to watch to see them leave the box but missed them! The adults are still coming to our feeder but haven’t seen the fledglings! I have cleaned the box out and am waiting expectantly for the building of a new nest! As you mentioned bluebirds can certainly teach humans how to care for their young! They work so hard!

  8. I found a dead male bluebird on my lawn today . This is the second time that this pair has had chicks. Will the female be able to take care for he babies alone. I know that one feeds and the other watches for danger.
    I was going to get mealworms and sprinkle them on the roof of our shed near the BB house
    Would that be OK?

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Sorry to hear about your male bluebird.

      Whether she herself would be able to raise the young to fledging depends on how old and how many there are. I’ve heard stories where a similar situation happened. In some cases the female was able to raise them. It was not clear if some have to die or all were fed to the fledging age. In other cases, she abandoned the nesting attempt when the nestlings were very young.

      Some females were able to get a male replacement and have it help her raise her brood. The trade off for the new male is that the next brood would be his and now he has a female and a territory. He probably did not have any of that and he was a floater looking for a breeding opportunity.

      It is a good thing that you are providing worms. That will make a big difference. The female may not even need help if she has food available close to the nest.

      Let us know what was the outcome.

      Al

  9. Hello I have Blue birds for the first time in a wooden box, but I believe the babies have passed. I have not seen the parents, for a day and it’s really hot. I can watch the box from a distance. What should I do?

    Brenda

    1. Hi Brenda,

      By all means, watch what is inside. Get a small mirror and see what is inside. You can also open the box and check.

      Bluebirds are tolerant and won’t mind that type of disturbance.

      I am assuming that there is no longer activity. If the adult birds are still around and feeding the young, please make sure they are not old enough to be spooked and force to fledge prematurely, if you decide to open the box.

      I would like to heard about what you found.

      Al

      1. Hello, I have seen the male but not the female. No I have not opened the box as I am afraid to disturb them. I really hope the babies, in which I think I can hear something. Not sure, just watching from a distance. I will keep you updated. Love the website. Brenda

    2. Is it normal for mom BB not to feed nestlings as often when has fledglings ? I thought maybe since it was 98 degrees the heat kept her away so I put up an umbrella over house . Mom BB still came in but Daddy BB is not . Mom doesn’t feed very often during the day but broods at night . This is 2 cd clutch this year . I have never seen this & am not sure if I should do something.
      I have dried mealworms provided & feeder with seed . Just worried about nestlings! I see the fledglings around the bird house with new nestlings but not helping feed .

      1. I also put an umbrella up to shade the nest box since it was in full sun and we knew we had lost one baby the day before (just hatched), The male bird went in the box and flew out with it. The good news is mama and papa bluebird kept coming and going with food (as did the fledglings from the previous brood). Thankfully the umbrella does not bother them and the heat wave is over. We’re thinking positively!
        I have noticed in the middle of the day they don’t come and go as often with food. I’m guessing it’s naptime for the babies. good luck!

  10. Jane & Earnie

    Our 4th batch of Bluebirds (using the same house) should be fledging within the next 3 days. What a season this has been. Bluebirds abound!

    1. Hi Jane and Earnie,

      Great news! There is something fascinating about seeing birds going through the process of building a nest, feeding the young, and seeing them leave the nest.

      Watching bluebirds doing that is somehow are even more special.

      Congrats bluebird landlords!

      Al

  11. This site is so helpful. I’m writing again in case my experience will help others. I’ve just checked the post-fledge box, and no corpses. No signs of infestations. Last checked there were three babies (about 10 days ago). On fledge-day, there was good weather. A lot of calling. There is a river and a pond as well as wetland near the box. And a road. The only fledgling I ever saw was not able to get to a branch and was making its way along the forest floor, encountering things as it went, but by 7pm it was still hopping along. I stood in the road until dark in case it accidentally hopped there. Parents were on wires overhead. I never saw the other two. That night it was 50 degrees overnight. Next morning some sighting of parents but no intense feeding activity as pre-fledge. No calling during the entire day. One sighting of mom and the singleton from last brood last night. Another night with 50 degrees. Today…no sighting. No calls. My optimistic self says: this one I saw may have been the weakest and maybe the other two managed to fly a little and get farther. Maybe they made it to the woods nearby and maybe it’s normal not to see anyone after fledging…My worried self says: none of the babies survived fledging, either hopped into water, or froze, or were eaten. I’m writing because you seem to be an expert on fledging and I’m desperate for some more detail on parental behavior and what to expect in the days/week after. New to this and appreciate your observations and expertise. Thanks!

    1. Hi Thalia,

      Witnessing a bluebird fledge is special. The fact that the bird you saw did not get to a branch on its first flight and fell to the ground is normal. At least it was strong enough to fly some distance, and though it missed the branch, it appears to me that this fledgling is strong enough to attempt to fly up to a branch off the ground. Some young bluebirds leave the nest and fall to the ground within a few yards; they probably fledged too early.

      I would not worry much about the cold night. It was probably as cold when they were in the nest. By the time they fledge, they can thermoregulate their own temperature.

      The fact that you do not hear them is not surprising. During the first few days, they vocalize quietly. They don’t want to make themselves obvious to predators. They are still there, and the parents know where they are and feed them. They will get better at flying in a few more days, and the fledglings usually want to get closer together. They can move in any direction, away or closer to where you are, making it more difficult to find them.

      Perhaps in a week or so, you may be able to see the family around when the fledglings are more confident and able to follow the parents. Look for them at utility wires, fence posts, and so on.

      If one of the fledglings is missing, that is normal too. Not all fledglings (across all birds) make it to the adult age.

      I just had two red-bellied woodpeckers that fledged from a box in my backyard. I know they fledged because I saw the tree where the parents were going in and out, but never saw the fledglings and after that day never saw any of them again.

      Let us know if you see the family group again!

      Al.

  12. Joseph S Good

    I have witnessed via binoculars a nestling passing a fecal sac to its mother, who flew off to dispose of it.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Interesting observation. I am not sure I’ve heard about something similar.
      When they are old enough to do this, nestlings aim their rear ends toward the entrance hole and pass a fecal sac to the parent that is perched there to take it away from the nest.

      Happy bluebirding.

      Al

  13. Hi! Thank you for this great info. Our backyard brood in NC recently fledged, and when I opened the birdhouse to check the empty nest, a mass of tiny brown bugs started swirling out and all over the house. I would guess bird mites? It’s a wooden birdhouse. Do you recommend disposing of the old nest and using a bleach solution on the house ASAP? Is a mass of bird mites like that common? I admit that I left the birdhouse sitting open and probably won’t go near it again until the bug activity calms down, yuck!

    1. Hi Julie,

      It looks like those are hungry bird mites. Now that the nestlings fledged, they do not have any source of food (blood) and will crawl and climb on anything that moves.

      It was a good idea to leave the nesting box so that the mite activity settles down. After a few days, wear a pair of latex gloves, open the box and use a brush with a long handle to take the nest out, then use a hose to blast water into all corners using the brush to get the stuff in the bottom corners. Let it dry, and then use a plastic spray bottle with a mild solution of bleach to spray inside and outside the nesting box. Focus on all corners where mites may be hiding.

      Dispose of the nest at a far corner of your yard where mites eventually will die. Putting the mite-infested nest in your trash can is likely to allow mites to crawl all over and they will climb on the hand that handles that trash can.

      This is just one way to do it.

      Good luck,

      Al

  14. Hello,
    My first bluebirds here fledged today. I’m not sure how many babies there were, at least two, but I think three or maybe even four. They’ve been peeking out of the box for several days, and we’re much more active yesterday, jostling each other to peek out, so I figured they were about to fledge. I was blessed this morning to see one fledge. I thought it was the last one, although I’ve checked the box periodically since then. At times, it seems I can still see something moving inside, but it’s in a shaded area so hard to tell. I just checked it again and saw both adults taking turns flying up to the opening, then hovering while looking inside. They never landed. They then perched together nearby and continued this behavior for 5-10 minutes. Then they flew off. I have mealworm feeders out, and they have been at them a lot today, so I believe they’re feeding their fledglings nearby. My question is this…is there still a baby, or babies, in the nest? Over the weekend, I noticed when they had their mouths open awaiting feeding that one was much smaller than the others. Could it be there’s a runt, and it will fledge later? What happens if the parents don’t feed it? I haven’t seen them feed again since the one fledged earlier.

  15. Hi CJ,

    Nice that you saw one bird fledge! That’s is difficult to witness.

    A runt in brood is perfectly normal. The runt usually stays in the nest for one to three more days after everyone else has fledged. The parents will feed the bird left inside. If the parent neglect it, the runt will fledge too and make itself more visible to the parents that will feed it more often. Fledglings give calls repeatedly to let the parents know about their location.

    Providing mealworms certainly helps a lot.

    Regards,

    Al.

    1. Teri Switzer

      Hi, I’ve got a blue bird box at our lake house. The Blue birds seem to always lay eggs in it. Sometime though the eggs have holes and the adults abandon the nest. I’ll clear out the old nest and then the adults will lay again. Last week there were baby Blue birds in the box and the following week they were gone (5 days). Do you think they fledged? I’m worried about sparrows maybe killing them. We have lots of birds around and have heard Sparrows are predators of Blue birds.

      1. Hi Teri,

        Eggs punctured are usually the result of a house wren attack. House wrens are aggressive and try to destroy eggs of all types of birds within their territory, even when they already have a nest and are incubating their own eggs.

        About whether the nestling fledged, it is hard to tell. I am not sure how old the bluebirds chicks were when you saw them. If house sparrows attacked them, they would be dead inside or on the ground below the nesting box.

        I hope they fledged.

        Regards,

        Al

  16. Hi Al,

    My bluebirds fledged last Wednesday. Are the parents likely to nest again this late in the summer? I live in central Texas, and we have lots of warm weather to come still.

    Thanks,

    CJ

    1. Hi CJ,

      I’d say it is too late for another brood. However, bluebirds in the warm south tend to have double broods; who knows…keep us posted about what your bluebirds finally do!

      Regards,

      Al

      1. Hi Al,
        I noticed this morning (day 10 since fledglings left the nest) that there’s some nesting material hanging out of the nesting box. Does this mean the bluebirds might be building another nest? They’re very busy feeding the babies. I see them every day, and it seems the male is doing most of the feeding, although I still see the female occasionally.

        I haven’t cleaned the nest box out yet because I can’t reach it. I’ve been meaning to ask a neighbor to do it for me. At this point, should I leave it alone in case they’re building a new nest? The mealworm feeders are near the nest box, so I try to avoid a lot of activity around that area.

        Thanks!
        CJ

        1. Hi CJ,

          Bluebirds seldom leave nesting material hanging from the entrance hole. That is more typical in House Sparrows.

          It would pay to monitor the box and see what is going in and out to determine whether they are trying another brood or the nesting box was taken by other birds.

          If the male is doing most of the feeding, the female may be rebuilding???

          Some monitoring of the nesting box would help.

          Regards,

          Al.

          1. Hi Al,
            I noticed the nesting material that was hanging out of the opening has been pulled inside. However, I haven’t seen any activity around the nesting box. The fledglings that hatched almost 2 weeks ago are growing fast.

            Should I go ahead and clean out the nest box? I haven’t seen the female around very much. Is it too late to put up another nest box on my property? I have a fairly small yard. The current nest box is in a small grove of 3 oak trees in my back yard. Would another pair of bluebirds be likely to use a nest box in that same area? I also have a large oak tree on the side of my house that can’t be seen from the first nest box. It’s fairly close to the house, and it has feeders hanging from the limbs, so there’s quite a bit of activity around it. Given the relative lack of habitat around here, spud bluebirds be likely to use a nest box if I installed it on the tree with more traffic?

            Thanks for all your help and advice!
            CJ

        2. Hi CJ,

          Regarding your questions….

          Should I go ahead and clean out the nest box?

          Yes, go ahead and clean up the nest box. It is recommended to clean up boxes after the fledglings are gone, even between broods. It helps alleviate the parasite load.

          I haven’t seen the female around very much. Is it too late to put up another nest box on my property?

          It may be too late now. The fall season is around the corner, but Texas is warmer than other places, so you never know. Chances are they will not nest until the next season.

          Would another pair of bluebirds be likely to use a nest box in that same area?

          They recommend putting bluebird boxes about 300 feet apart. Territorial pairs will defend that space once they claim a nesting box. Perhaps other birds use the next box within your property.

          If you install the second nest box a bit far apart, it may attract two bluebird pairs, even if the distance apart is less than 300 feet.

          It may work; you never know…

          Regards,

          Al.

  17. Five western bluebirds fledged today. I saw 4 of them on the ground in a huddle in some tall grass. It’s just about sunset and I hope they aren’t predated upon tonight as they don’t seem to be into flying. The parents are feeding them on the ground and there’s lots of calling back and forth. This is the third brood they’ve had this year.

    I’ve hosted bluebirds for many years, but never have seen them fledge to the ground before. I have lots of cute stories about them, but tonight just thinking about the 5 fledglings.

    1. Hi Becky,

      Fledglings falling to the ground is uncommon but happens. I am surprised though that all fell on the ground. One thing that may have happened is that the first sibling left the nest early and prompted the others to do the same.

      Unless they are unlucky they will make it. A couple of days and they will begin to gain strength and fly to higher branches.

      I hope they make it.

      Regards,

      Al

  18. Linda Olivola

    Thank you for this wonderful site. I learned so much by reading the published material and the posts. My bluebirds fledged around Aug 6 and they came back to my mealworm feeder about 9 or so days later. I saw mom, dad and previous fledglings showing them the feeder and helping with feeding. Recently, I have not seen mom and fear the worst. If dad is still around next year, what is the likelihood of him choosing a new mate and using the nest box again?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Seeing the fledgling back to your feeder must have been rewarding.

      If one partner disappears, the remaining one will find a mate and will likely come back the next year with the new mate. Bluebirds have been known to find a new partner within hours of losing one! Finding a new partner in such a short period of time is extreme. Where this happened, the remaining parent was raising a young brood and needed help. Bluebirds normally take a week or much longer to find a new partner.

      If they raised a brood successfully at one nesting site, they are likely to return, particularly if a feeder with mealworms is nearby.

      I hope they do.

      Regards,

      Al

      1. I have never left the house out during the winter but this year 3-4 fledglings from last year have returned to our feeders as winter approaches
        Should I put the box(s) back up to provide a spot for them to sleep or will that discourage the parents from returning to the nest next spring ?

        1. Hello Winston,

          Putting the boxes back up should not discourage the parents from returning. Chances are they will claim their boxes regardless of who used them earlier.

          If birds come in conflict over nesting boxes, put up more boxes adequately spaced.

          Yes, I would put up the boxes back up for the birds there. They may not use them and roost somewhere else as natural cavities elsewhere should be available with fewer birds in the area during the winter.

          Regards,

          Al

  19. Alfredo:
    This past summer we enjoyed watching from our kitchen window three broods of 5 babies each successfully fledge from our bluebird house that I have cleaned and re-installed.. I just received another bluebird house as a gift for Christmas that I want to install in my yard during the next several weeks. My question is how close to the current bluebird house can I install the new bluebird house? I intend to provide mealworms from a dish feeder on my deck. Thanks so much for your guidance.

  20. Hi Doug,

    Three broods are remarkable!

    The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends a minimum of 300 feet between bluebird nest boxes. Some folks place them at shorter distances and appear to be successful.

    The entrance, preferably, should face east.

    I hope you get more bluebirds this season.

    Regards,

    Al

  21. Hi,
    I have a pair of bluebirds that appear to be nesting in a birdhouse in my back yard. Both are still going in together at least once a day, so I think she may be laying eggs? If so, when will she start incubating them? This is the same house that a pair used last year and successfully raised 3 fledglings. I have mealworm feeders all around, and now I’m seeing another male at the feeders. This morning, I saw a fledgling sitting on top of the birdhouse where the other pair are nest-building. Could this chick belong to the second male I’m seeing? A few weeks ago, I installed another bluebird house on an oak tree in the field behind my house. I know it’s late, and hope it’s not too close to my other birdhouse. Yesterday, I saw a male checking it out, so hopefully a second pair will choose it. This is a new neighborhood that was fairly heavily forested with live oaks and juniper. The builders left quite a few trees, but there’s still been a huge loss of habitat for the birds, especially cavity nesters. I’ve been buying bluebird houses and mealworm feeders for all of my neighbors who want them, so hopefully we can successfully establish a bluebird trail here. Thanks for all the great information!

  22. Hi CJ,

    Glad to hear that your bluebirds are back and actively breeding! If they are still going in together, she might have started to lay eggs and continue to do so to complete the clutch. She is more likely to begin incubation when she lays the last or before the last egg. Then you should not see much of her except when she takes breaks.

    The chick is more likely to be from a nest near where you saw it. Perhaps it is a nest you are not aware of? Chicks tend to hang on near the nest box they were born for a while before moving on.

    Glad to hear that you are encouraging your neighbors to start setting up boxes for your bluebirds!!! Set the boxes up, and they will come!

    Al.

  23. My Name Card Jc cooper

    We’ve had a strange occurrence this year with our Eastern Bluebirds! After raising bluebirds, for 7 years, we’ve now have a major issue, with house sparrows, killing our , babies in the box ! We usually have babies, three to four times , starting in Late March till early Summer, here in Houston Tx area ! Or until, unreasonably hot , first box of babies were four , and sparrows, killed and dumped all to the ground, but one was still alive , and unhurt! I placed it back in box , parents , immediately, went to work , feeding it ! Weeks went by , as we were watching progress at box , never any indication of it being ready to fledge ! Nothing, no peeking, nothing! Then , yesterday, things changed ! It fledged, low and behold, total tail feathers and flying like and adult bird ! Today , it’s setting at the feeder, like an adult feeding, it’s self ! Very unusual! What you think of this ! After fledging, at least 70 birds in all these , years , we have a super Birdbird ! HeHeHe! Jc Cooper

    1. Hi JC Cooper,

      Great story. I wonder if it fledged earlier and you did not notice it??…then you saw it with its tail fully grown and flying well. I hope you can control the house sparrows.

      Good luck,

      Al

  24. We have a nest box with 3 babies in it and it was attacked by a Sparrow. We saw it happen and two of the nestlings jumped out of the nest box. We managed to get them back in but they were very upset and trying to get out. The Sparrow keeps returning and is still trying to take over. We put a mesh cover partly over the entrance to keep the Sparrow out, but the parents can still feed but can’t get inside. One of the babies was very small and none were ready to fledge. We are trying to capture the Sparrow to relocate it. We are afraid if we remove the mesh cover they will bail out again or the Sparrow will regain the nest. Any ideas how to keep them safe?

    1. Hi Janice,

      The first thing to do is to catch the sparrows. No matter what you do to protect the baby bluebirds, the sparrows will always be a threat. The mesh appears to be working. That should work if that keeps the sparrows away while allowing the parents to continue feeding the young. Just make sure that the baby bluebirds are able to get out to the box when they are ready to do so.

      Eliminating the threat (sparrows) should be your first priority.

      Good luck,

      Al.

  25. Hi Al,
    A pair of bluebirds nested in my back yard birdhouse, and hatched a clutch of babies. During the past few days, the babies have been peeking out of the box. They were especially active yesterday, and both parents were feeding them almost constantly. I expected they would fledge today. This morning, I sat outside and watched the nesting box for about an hour. Both adults came to my mealworm feeders, but appeared to eat the mealworms. No sign of activity inside the nesting box. The adults perched nearby and even peeked inside a few times, but didn’t feed. My question is this…do the babies ever fledge are dusk? I looked outside just after dawn today and didn’t see any activity in the nesting box. I’ve watched the parents when they come to the feeders to see where they go as it might be a clue that they’re feeding their fledglings somewhere. If they are, they must be farther away than they took them last year.
    One of my neighbors saw 8 bluebirds in her back yard last week. Some were fledglings, so there must be other adult pairs nearby. Maybe I’m seeing another pair checking out the now empty birdhouse for their next clutch. I don’t know if the pair that just hatched babies would be checking it to nest on the same day, or day after, their babies fledged, would they?

    1. Hi CJ,

      It looks like they fledged, and now the parents are with the babies somewhere nearby. The first days after fledging, the babies are clumsy and need to be fed by their parents whereever they happen to be.

      The bluebirds checking the box are likely not to be the same pair but another looking for a nesting site. The pair that nested in that box may come back to the same box, particularly when the young are capable of flying well.

      What makes me think that it is another pair is that they seem to be checking the birdhouse out, somewhat hesitant, which to me suggests that they are not familiar with that birdhouse.

      Good luck,

      Al

      1. Kelly Sueksdorf

        My family of blue birds fledged this morning mom and dad have been getting mealworms and flying far off in an oak tree to feed all but one that my dog found on the grass. I was able to catch it and it eagerly went back in the box and stayed for a couple hours while dad would come and feed it. It has since left and is maybe 10 feet from the box sitting on a 2’ high fence post in full sun. It’s been there close to 4 hours dad has come back a few times but it just sits there chirping every few seconds. Should I put it back in the box or on the branch of a near by tree. I haven’t let my dogs out all day!

        1. Hi Kelly,

          I know if a late reply, but making it fly by approaching it would be a good idea. The spot where it first landed is too exposed to predators.

          I doubt it would let you catch it; it is more likely that the fledgling will fly away when you get close to it, then it may land in a safer place. If you can catch it and put it in a tall bush, it would also help.

          Good luck.

          Regards,
          Al

      2. Hi Al,
        You were right, of course, they fledged and I just missed seeing it. They have 4 healthy fledglings, 2 males, 2 females, and the entire family comes to my mealworm feeders daily. I thought another pair nested in the box, and after counting down the days from when it appeared the female was incubating eggs, they looked like they were feeding hatchlings for a few days. I saw the male go into the box fairly regularly, and he’d stay in there for awhile. Now, I’m not seeing the adults go in or out anymore, so I’m wondering if they didn’t nest after all. I didn’t have a chance to clean out the first nest because they came around so quickly. Now, it appears that a pair of adults have chosen another nestbox. The same thing has happened. After a period of time that the female appeared to brood eggs, the male appeared to be feeding for several days. The female mostly stayed in the box, as they do. Now, I’m not seeing them around the nestbox as much. This one is farther from my house, so maybe I’m missing them. Are they abandoning their nests, or are they still in the process of choosing them? The 4 babies that fledged on May 10th are still at the feeders every day, but now the adult birds chase them off of the feeders when they’re around, although they’re tolerant of the fledglings as they sit nearby waiting for the adults to finish eating. The adults come around to the mealworm feeders all day every day, then fly away, but not in the direction of my 2 nest boxes, so I’m guessing they may have nested somewhere nearby? This evening at dusk, a couple of younger fledglings showed up at the feeders. The older fledglings chased them away. Is that normal? Sorry for all the questions, but some of this is new to me.

        1. Hi CJ,

          It looks like they might have chosen another nest?? While this may not be the reason why, some bluebirds change nesting places due to the parasite load at the box they just nested in. There are other reasons they can move to another nest, some are unknown.

          The new set of fledglings that showed up at the feeder may not be related. Older siblings often help raise their younger siblings from the most recent brood, but if the younger nestlings are being chased away, they may not be their actual siblings.

          Good luck with your bluebirds.

          Al

  26. Hi,
    I live in Hardin county Tennessee.
    This spring i had a bluebird that would perch above my entrance door to my house and then fly into the glass windows above my doors (vaulted ceilings). He did it many times over several days. I walked in the yard and watched him and noticed that my window looked like a mirror and it looked like he was trying to attack his reflection, maybe?
    So anyway, I mounted a bluebird house there and he started going in the new house instead of bumping into the glass and now I hear baby bluebirds chirping in the nest. Will the babies be ok falling that far whenever they leave the nest?
    I really didn’t expect him to move in. I have several bluebird houses mounted to trees on my property and have no idea why none of those properly placed houses were chosen.
    Thank you,
    June

    1. Hi June,

      The location of the box is not a problem for the baby bluebirds. In fact is an advantage in that when they fledge they will take their first flight from a higher point, which increases the chances of not ending up on the ground but in a safe place in a tree or bush.

      Good luck with your birds.

      Al

  27. I love in Central Virginia and I’ve put different bluebird houses up around our 5 acres. I’ve been watching two of the bird houses with active bluebird couples in and out constantly with food over the last several weeks. Today I was sitting on the porch and saw the male bluebird fly to the birdhouse and then perch on the hole of the house and look down at the ground where I noticed there was a baby bluebird standing there. The male flew down to it and then flew away. The baby blue bird hopped along the ground flapping its wings and falling over a lot which panicked me when I saw it standing in the driveway where it might get hit or some other animal out here in the country might get it, so I slowly approached it and was able to gently catch it and hold it at the birdhouse hole where it went back inside.

    Several hours later I happened to be out on the porch again which is about 20 feet from the birdhouse when I saw two pairs of bluebirds making a racket and flying all around the birdhouse and perching on a rose of Sharon bush nearby. It looked like these adult bluebirds were being aggressive with each other and made so much noise I wasn’t sure what was going on. Very strangely, a big pair of brown thrashers hopped up in the rose of Sharon very excitedly and a purple finch jumped up on one of the limbs. It was an absolute circus of noise and birds. At that point, I looked up and watched all three of these baby bluebirds jump clumsily out of the house to the ground. None of them could fly, and two of them hopped and stumbled their way in different directions, one toward an area near the woods in the front yard, and one in a very crowded garden area about 30 feet from the birdhouse where there’s a dogwood, azalea bushes, and a rosebush. The third blue bird sat very still about 15 feet from the house and never moved. Two adult bluebirds came back to the house and looked inside the house but didn’t perch on the hole or go in. And I waited to see if the motionless baby blue bird would call out or would do anything when the parents were in a tree nearby, but it didn’t move. I finally went over and put a small fiber optic camera in the hole of the birdhouse to see if a snake or something else had somehow gotten in there despite the netting I had put on the wooden pole holding the house, but I didn’t see anything in there other than the nest, what looked like a fecal sac, and a piece of egg. At that point it was getting late in the afternoon and I knew the sun would be down soon and we have black snakes around the area, so I approached the baby bird and was able to gently pick it up and once again put it at the entrance of the birdhouse where it hopped back in. About 15 or 20 minutes later, a female I’m assuming was one of the parents, perched on a branch of the rose of Sharon near the birdhouse and I watched this baby bluebird once again come to the entrance and after a few minutes jumped down again. This time, it hopped toward some crêpe myrtle and butterfly weed bushes about 15 feet away. It still fell as it hopped and clearly couldn’t fly, but it was able to flap its wings enough to get over about a 6 inch brick fixture and hop over into the area where the bushes were.

    I’ve never seen bluebirds fledge and I kept trying to read articles as quickly as I could about what to do when they can’t fly yet but they’ve jumped out. I don’t know how to explain the bizarre behavior of all of those adult birds making such a racket around the house right before all three of the babies jumped out. I didn’t see a snake or any kind of predator nearby but I don’t know what else would’ve caused them to act that way. I’m telling myself that all three of them will be OK and that the adults know where they are and will keep feeding them as they get stronger, but it completely freaked me out to see those beautiful little baby birds hopping and flopping across the lawn that way. I found this article and this forum hours after this ordeal and wanted to leave this observation in case anyone else has seen something like that before. I intend to tell my family to just leave the grass alone this week and not to mow in that area just in case they were still on the ground because I have no idea how long it would take for them to be able to fly. I wish I could attach a picture here since I got one when I was very close to one of the birds on the ground. They have feathers, but they also still had a little bit of fuzz or under feathers that I could see and their beaks looked really big compared to the rest of their features. I’m just wondering if anyone had any idea what would’ve made them jump out like that when they were clearly not ready to fly. I’d also like to know whether I should go ahead and clean the nest out of the house. I had also read somewhere that putting down a little layer of diatomaceous earth in the bottoms of these wood bird houses was a good idea for helping keep out mites and other insects. Any thoughts on that?

    Thank you for any feedback you might be able to provide. We have a huge number of birds here but I’ve never put up houses and I’m very new to all of this. I wish that my first observations of bluebirds fledging hadn’t been so traumatic and I hope that I didn’t do the wrong thing in the way I handled this. I’d be grateful for any advice. Thank you! – Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,

      That is interesting and odd indeed. I first thought of a snake when all the other birds were around making all that noise, but no snake.

      I can only think of fire ants or parasites that are driving the young bluebirds out of the box. Perhaps wasps made a nest inside??. This is rather odd.

      Perhaps someone else has experienced something similar?

      Regards,

      Al

  28. Dear Al,
    We had 3 years of great success with a bluebird couple, 3 broods each year, for a total of Unfortunately, in the 4th year, an application nearby by the Orkin Co. were likely to blame for the male disappearing one day later. Then we watched as the female showed neurological problems, having difficulty picking up the mealworms. She flew to the nest finally with one worm, was unable to latch onto the house, dropped the worm and flew away never to be seen again. I hand fed the nestlings for 4 days until I found a certified rehabber. It was heartbreaking. I hope other bluebird landlords will understand that poisoned insects will poison the birds.

    1. Hi Joane,

      Sad to hear about your bluebirds. It does look like the bluebirds were affected.
      Here in Florida, spraying or removing vegetation is not recommended at or near scrub-jay habitat; a federally threatened bird.

      Regards,
      Al.

  29. Dear Al, my bluebird couple that I lost had 36 babies over the 3 years they nested in our yard, I really mourned their loss. This Spring I was delighted to see we have a new nesting pair! But it is somewhat odd, in that the mother will come to the feeder when I call her or she sees me, and she is watched by what I think is an immature bluebird. It gives her a wing wave and begs to be fed. I have seen her carry a worm up to the perch, very infrequently, to feed it only once in a while. The young one has been hesitant to go to the feeder unless I back away a great distance. Could it be a late Fall 2021 fledgling who wintered with its mother and wants her to take care of it?

    1. Hi Joane,

      It is more likely to be an early spring fledgling. Young birds that fledged the last spring/summer 2021 would like much like an adult by the next spring/summer.

      Good like with your bluebirds.

      Regards,
      Al

  30. Hi Al,
    We have noticed that on the conservation lands in town they are putting up bluebird boxes in pairs, about 10 ft apart. Is there an advantage of having two together?
    Wonderful column, thanks!

  31. Hi I noticed yesterday when our Bluebirds Fledged the large Woodpeckers and other birds seem to be chasing them. I do believe I saw one get caught by the Woodpecker. I saw Mama and Papa Bluebird chasing them so I don’t know if any of them made it 🙁 We had 5 eggs but we found one dead one inside the nest.
    Sad the others had to lay on a dead sibling the entire time. Also I keep seeing Mama and Papa and also hearing their call. Not sure if they can’t find their babies and are looking for them or just a natural call? We purchased a camera on a wire so we could take photos of the different stages without opening the box. My question is does anyone know if hearing them calling all day is normal? I also saw the male going back into the box but we already removed the nest last night with the dead bird.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Perfectly normal. After the nestlings leave the nests there is constant communication between the parents and the several chicks spread around. This is a way for the chicks to let their parents where they are, and for the parents to relocate them when it is feeding time.

      Regards,

      Al

  32. 2nd part to my previous question. I live in Florida and it’s in the high 90’s now. Will they start another nest since the babies just fledged yesterday 6/8? I see the male checking out the nesting house again.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Yes, they can start another brood, however, it would take some time before they do that since the chicks just fledged.

      I hope they attempt another brood.

      Al

  33. We have what is supposed to be a yard decor birdhouse (not designed for cleanout) in which (we never thought this would happen) bluebirds have nested. The birdhouse sets atop a post holding a couple hooks which hold suet/seed cake cages; there are two other posts with hooks holding other birdfeeders (in short, birdie restaurant row) in the middle of a flower bed about six feet from our house. The female has been a good momma, warding off any perceived threat–her dive bombing of juvenile squirrels was a Wild Kingdom-worthy spectacle. She appears to tolerate-after due diligence warnings- most other birds (Pileated,yellow-belly, & downy woodpeckers, various finches, occasional grosbeak, thrushes, cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, etc.) She also seems to have figured out that when my husband and I are in the backyard, we will ward off other (threatening) birds such as mockingbirds and starlings, and after checking to see where we are, she will take longer jaunts to seek food. (We found evidence that the male appears to have been killed.)
    Although we cannot see inside the box, based on her time in/out of the box (she usually makes her final daily return @6-630 pm), we think any offspring may be about 10-14 days old. After this brood fledges, should we (after cleaning it out) close off this nest site as we plan on setting new bluebird house on our fence line a bit further from our house; this new house will on the fence between our backyard and an open field, close to our Thuja tree line (which many birds love for nighttime roosting), plus it will still be close to ‘restaurant row’ and our small koi pond water source.
    Will the bluebirds redirect themselves to a new real bluebird house this year, or should we wait until the end of this year’s nesting season?

    1. Hi! I am NOT an expert, but when I started offering mealworms last year, a pair of BB’s came to feed on them, and had three clutches that they fed with them last year. They eventually brought the fledglings to the feeder. I came to learn that they nested across the street in an ornamental bird house, and that they have nested there for MANY years. They are there this year, but I got two pair to make their homes in my yard, and one of the pair ran them off from the mealworm feeder. Their “home” has never been cleaned by humans, as like you, there’s no way to do so.

    2. Hi MKJ,

      There is always a need for nesting places, and bluebirds will take anything that looks suitable for nesting. Yes, please, after the current brood is out, make the bird house unavailable for the bluebirds. Replacing the bird house with one you can manage (clean up, check inside, etc.) is a really good idea. Try it this season and see what happens. If the male appears to be missing, she may find a floater male to breed with in the same territory, if not this year, the next.

      Good luck!

  34. Hi! I love this page! I have two active BB nests with cameras. Each has a predator guard similar to this: https://www.etsy.com/listing/802438613/ultimate-bird-house-predator-guard?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_-home_and_living&utm_custom1=_k_CjwKCAjw46CVBhB1EiwAgy6M4lpjJl7bE3YYRne7zldDKw29f8jiql1at1CT-YdHMYHImmbS1vlwcBoCOQUQAvD_BwE_k_&utm_content=go_12665398257_121762925993_511610210343_pla-303628061699_c__802438613_566424784&utm_custom2=12665398257&gclid=CjwKCAjw46CVBhB1EiwAgy6M4lpjJl7bE3YYRne7zldDKw29f8jiql1at1CT-YdHMYHImmbS1vlwcBoCOQUQAvD_BwE

    Wow… That was long. Anyway… My “Back Yard” BB’s had a successful clutch. While they were still feeding the babies, I watched as the female laid two eggs, started to sit on the eggs, then there was a third, and a fourth, and then three, and then two, and she was sitting on them again. Today there are none. I don’t keep the camera recording, so I don’t know how the eggs disappeared. Ideas? A Google search was not helpful. It s VERY hot here in GA. Maybe too hot, though neither house has hit 107. The “Front Yard” female is still sitting on three eggs. Thank you!

  35. Hi Al,
    I have 2 bluebird nest boxes, about 100 yards apart and not in sight of each other. A pair of bluebirds successfully hatched and raised 4 babies in May in one of them. Since then, I’ve seen adult pairs checking out both nest boxes, but so far it doesn’t look like they’ve chosen either one. I’m in Central Texas, and it’s very hot here. Could that be why they’re not nesting?

    1. Alfredo Begazo

      Hi CJ,

      They could still be trying to start another nesting attempt. They nest until August in some places.
      Regards,

      Al

  36. Sherry Bryant

    Dear Al:
    I absolutely love bluebirds and have had monitoring trails of 11 acres in the country and was very successful with bluebirds. We then had to move in town and have a large back yard area. I put up several boxes and have had bluebirds, wrens, and tree swallows. I put up a new slot box last year and the bluebirds raised three broods…in Ohio!

    This year, I’ve had two nestings so far. The first one, the babies fledged on May 20. The second brood was four babies and two fledged on July 1, and one fledged on July 4. There is one baby still in the nestbox and the parents were taking turns feeding it. Today, I’ve seen no feeding or any parents. I carefully opened the box and the baby is still in there — it looks “normal size” and was alive. I closed the box and covered the opening for a few minutes. I think the parents have abandoned it. What should I do?

  37. Hi Sherry,

    Nice to hear that you have been so successful at attracting bluebirds where you go 🙂

    No, the parents have not abandoned it. They are busy feeding the siblings that already fledged. At this point, the parents respond and feed the chicks that call to be fed. If one chick does not call, the parents will go a feed the ones that keep calling.

    The chick left in the nest may not be heard, and the parents are busy responding to those that are outside calling. The lack of feeding will force the chick left in the box to fledge, begin calling and be fed.

    However, monitor the situation and see if things unfold as I describe them here.

    Good luck,

    Al

  38. Been watching 2 blue Jay fledglings in my yard. The nest is at least 6 ft above my roof. A 20ft drop. One broke its neck we found it dead. The other we found in the bushes. 2 days later found another that had just fledged. I have no idea how they dropped that far and survived. I made padded area in case there are more that drop. We didn’t even know there was a nest of them until we saw them on the ground. I’ve watched now for 5 days amazing parents care for them and fight off mocking birds and this morning a Hawk near the nest 20 ft up so I’m wondering if there are more. I’ve taken the fledglings in at night in a box and put on a heating pad. We have too many predators. Took them also to a wildlife rehabilitation to check them out, one had a blood wing sticking out and the rehab guy cut it off it was bothering the baby. He said they looked fine but wouldn’t fly for another week. I have not fed them because the parents are doing so good. But yesterday they were behind my wood pile all day I watched and made sure to keep track of the whereabouts. 30 minutes before dark I saw they were together by wood pile and parents feeding and checking on them. At dark I go get them so I don’t upset parents and put in a box. When I went to get them only one could be found. I was devastated!! I searched high and low until midnight and then went out at 1:30 am and 4 am to check to see if predators were around. I have no idea where it went, if something snatched it in the 30 minutes I took my eyes off them or if it got through a hole in my neighbors fence. My neighbor looked but no baby! Neither of them could fly but perched and hopped and tried to fly. They hopped and perched only. I’m literally so upset worried about this baby. Any idea how to locate it? I’m obsessing over this because I’ve watched them all day for 4 days straight in the heat in Texas! I keep watching fence tops to see if parents are perching and feeding in a location it got away to. I’m in a regular neighborhood so, hard to see fence tops too far off but can somewhat see adjoining houses fence tops. To make myself feel better I keep saying it flew away! But I really don’t think it could fly yet. I hadn’t seen a predator during the day. We have cats and possums at night though. Any idea on how to locate it or where to look if it flew off?

    1. Hi Wendi,

      The chick might just walked away from where you left it and it is somewhere in the bushes nearby. The keep still and silent not to attract the attention of predators, but call to let their parents know where they are so that they are fed.

      One way to find where the chicks are located is by following where the parents are coming and going. This may take some time of patient observation buy the parents activities may reveal where the chicks are.

      Good luck.
      Dave

  39. Jessica wiliam

    Well, thank for sharing useful information. I have more knowledge from reading your posting. This helps me a lot. Nature has many wonderful things that I want to know. Hope you write more.

  40. With its wings and freedom to explore the borderless sky, we all once imagined being a bird traveling the world. But have you ever wondered, where do baby birds go when they leave the nest?

  41. I adore this site❣️. The info has helped me understand the 1st eastern bluebird nesting and fledging in my bluebird house this spring…what an awesome experience!!!

  42. I have a nest with I think 5 fledglings in it. It’s on a gutter right at the top and under the roof. My concern is should I place a shallow platform under it, to catch any that accidentally fall out? It’s a small nest. I will be buying a birdhouse for her in next day or two should she decide to come back. We have a cat that comes around and I’m worried if one falls out, it would be killed cause they are still very very young. Any advice to at very least allow me to keep an eye on them and return any that might fall out. I was thinking a small shallow platform placed under it to shorten the fall (and keep them from landing on the ground from the nest)especially since they are moving too much and could possibly knock each other out- like I said, there are 5 babies and it looks pretty tight in there. I’m also in SE Virginia and love all the birds in our backyard.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Not sure putting a platform is necessary. My concern is the cat. Since it is a small nest if will soon become too small for all the babies and some may end up falling off/leaving the nest prematurely, meaning still unable to fly. This is when they are most vulnerable to cats.

      My advice would be to keep your cat indoors or watch it during the days the baby bluebirds are likely to leave or fall off the nest.

      Keeping your cat indoors during this period is the best solution.

      Good luck.

      Al.

  43. Hi Al,
    I am new to blue birding and have a set of 4 TN blue fledglings peeking out & thinking of leaving the nest. The bird house is mounted on our back porch post – as we live on a hill, the bird house is about 40-50ft high with one side the porch floor and the other a long drop to the ground. I am concerned this might be too high for the babies and potentially too long of a first flight through the yard to make it to the tree line. Is there anything I can do to help? (Create a basket landing under the house in case a baby falls / attempt to prevent the high drop, or place a pole/perch of some sort in the yard in between the house and the tree line for them to try to land?) I am thinking it is likely best not to move the house to a safe spot with the baby birds still inside. Would putting out mealy worms encourage the parents to feed them longer to give the fledglings more time to mature and make the flight? Would love your opinion on how to best proceed –

    We also have snakes that come up from the woods this time of year – I am thinking I will put out snake repellent powder (the kind that is safe for birds & critters) tomorrow to help create a safe space on the ground just in case?

    1. Hi Haley,

      Please, do not move the nesting box with the chicks (or eggs) in it, at this point. The height of the nesting box from the ground has little to do with the safety of the chicks. Remember, that bluebirds will nest in even higher places if a suitable cavity is found (a woodpecker cavity).

      The chicks will come out when they are ready and will find a perch, sometimes led by the parents, on their first flight. Only on rare ocasiones they come out of the nest prematurely. If they come out prematurely, it means that they are old enough and able to get to the cavity entrance comfortably and at that point they should have a plumage that will allow for a relatively soft landing. Check for cats and other threats if this were to happen.

      Yes, providing the parents with mealworms means plenty of proteins for the kids and a fast and healthy development. The parents will have plenty of food near the nest and will be able to spend more time near it protecting the nestlings.

      Regarding the threat of snakes, it is a good idea adding snake protection. A Stove Pipe Guard (stovepipe baffle) is one of the most efective measures to keep snakes from reaching the nesting box. Take a look at this article: https://avianreport.com/snakes-eat-eggs-baby-birds/

      I hope I captured the nature of your question.

      Good Luck,
      Al

  44. 4 days ago we had 2 newly hatched Bluebirds. This morning we have none. There are a few bluebird feathers inside the birdhouse door. What happened to the birds? We are first time bluebird house owners.

  45. Love this site. We have been providing a nest box for years and the blue birds come every year. East Texas! This year they laid four eggs that ever hatched. Then they added more nesting material on top of the unhatched eggs and then laid four more. They hatched and now on day 17 so we expect to saying good bye any time. After they leave I have always cleaned out the old nest material. Is that what most people do? Thanks

    1. Hi Tommy,

      Yes, clean up the house, and sanitize it for parasites, after the kids leave. It is early in the season and you are likely to get one more set of young bluebirds, if not more.

      Good luck!
      Al.

  46. Eugenia Adams

    Sadly, I fished out a dead fledgling from our pool. Then another one flew out of the nest straight into the pool and I got him out quickly. He was still alive, so I put him back in the box with another sibling who was still in there. I hope the cool night doesn’t kill him. This is my first year to attract bluebirds, and I turned the box away from the pool. I will move it to a better location.

    1. Hi Eugenia,

      Turning the entrance hole away from the dirección of the pool is a very good idea. They usually fly straight out to the box without much control as to where to land.

      Good luck,
      Al

  47. Thrilled to have found you. We are in the panhandle of West Virginia and have bluebirds every year nesting in our yard, usually three broods.

    I want to make mention of something that a lot of people are unaware of. Bluebirds love shelled sunflower seeds. If you buy the sunflower seeds that come pre-shelled, bluebirds will visit your feeders all year round, ours, even in winter. It may seem like these seeds are more expensive, but remember you’re not paying for waste (the shell). Also, they rarely germinate so you won’t have a tiny field of bedraggled sunflowers under your feeder. We get ours from Chewy.

    The bad thing, we often get a very territorial mocking bird who decides our back yard is his. Territorial to the point that last year before fledging time, I took all the feeders down to protect the babies (a very controversial move in our house). But it worked … it got real quiet back there and everyone came out into the world just fine.

  48. Hi there. So glad I stumbled on this site as I’m researching our mountain bluebirds. I had put up a cheap old wooden box on an old electric pole as a decoration. It’s right inside our fenced yard with 2 dogs. Also next to a tree with a bird feeder that attracts many species of birds with all day activity. Anyway, I saw the parents take what seemed like weeks to check out this spot and finally start building a nest. They’ve now been bringing bugs in for about 9-10 days. I had a peek inside for the first time and I know I shouldn’t peek again now. I desperately want baby photos, but was unsuccessful as the box opens from the side and I’m scared one might fall out if it’s up against the wall. I managed to see 2 blurry heads) Darn it!! Anyway, I’m terrified of a fledgling falling to the ground soon where my dogs are! I think of putting a box or crate under the nest to catch them if they fail but they could also fall from that I assume. Any advice as they should leave soon? This has been an exciting adventure for us, the parents are just so unwary of us. Love them. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Kim,
      I understand wanting to take some pictures of the baby bluebirds. If the nesting box opens from the side and you are not likely to force the chick fledge prematurely opening the side and taking to take a look and pictures would be fine. However, if the chicks are about ready to fledge, please do not open the box as they are likely to jump out. I would recommend to leave them alone this time. Set up a box with side door and install it in place that allows you to open it up safely. It is also important to know the age of the chicks when you open the box. The younger the chicks are the safer it is to open the box.

      Hope this helps.
      Al

      1. Hi and thanks for the reply. My babies fledged this morning. It’s so bittersweet. Parents are still nearby but the box is empty. They were so active and curious these last few days that I knew it was coming. I don’t see them anywhere but I assume they’re near. I ended up having to baffle under the box because we were battling snakes in our yard. I am guessing they wanted the nest. I’m so glad I did that! No one was harmed:)

        1. Hi Kim,

          Great to hear that you used a baffle to keep snakes from getting to the nest. I have a pair of red-bellied woodpecker nesting in a box I made for them. Even though I know there aren’t many snakes where I live, an urban area, still check every morning to see if everything is still ok. I set up the nesting box as an experiment and it got occupied quickly, now I don’t want to disturb the birds. I’ll use a baffle the next year.

          Al.

  49. Lynne Gnemi

    Al, yesterday I saw two baby bluebirds leave the nest. When the 3rd baby left the nest, the parents were nowhere around. I saw the baby fly high up into a tree close to the bluebird house. Now (a day later) the male and female both keep coming to look inside the house; could it be that they didn’t realize that the 3rd baby left the nest?

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Not at all, baby bluebirds and their parents keep a constant vocal contact. Regardless of whether the parents saw the third chick fly out of the nest, they will find each other in no time via their callings. When the chicks get better at flying, all siblings will hang out together.

      Good luck
      Al.

  50. DiAnna Spetseris

    Hi Al!
    I have a nesting pair of bluebirds. They had 3 eggs, 2 of them hatched. Approximately day 14ish the nest was empty, except the one unhatched egg. Both parents were feeding the babies the day before I never saw the babies poke their heads out so I assume they weren’t ready to fledge. Since then I’ve seen no sign of babies or parents anywhere. The parents aren’t even coming for their mealworms. Could something have killed all of them??

    1. Hi DiAnna,

      It is more likely that a predator (snake most likely) got to the box and took the chicks. The parents realized that the chicks were gone and moved on, perhaps to try a new breeding attempt at another location. This is normal.

      Snakes seem to remember the location of cavities, when they notice activity they will access the cavity again and take the chicks; the parents know this and will not use the same box where they once failed.

      Pls, consider implementing a snake guard on the pole holding the nest.

      Good luck,
      Al.

  51. Finally found a thorough article on bluebirds. Thank you.

    I have a pair here in Central FL that seem to be doing well. I put up a mealworm feeder, but the parents don’t seem interested in it at all. They hunt most of the day.

    I noticed today that the parents weren’t coming around as much as they once did. Your article helped me better understand this behavior — the parents may be trying to get the young ones out of the nest. Based on your firm recommendation — I will not be peeking into the box at this time.

    I do have a question: Once they fledge — should I clean out the box or will the parents use this again for another family?

    1. Hello Gene,

      Yes, once the chicks leave the nest clean out the nest and scrub the interior to eliminate parasites. The resident pair may try another nesting attempt. Having a nesting box free from parasites is inviting and will help them decide to try again.

      Good luck.
      Al

      1. Thanks, Al. Today, I cleaned the box and found a few feathers in the nest. Is that common or is that an indication that a predator got in? I know there were babies since I heard them and saw the parents feeding them. I didn’t see any evidence of a struggle or bird remains. I’m sorta new to hosting bluebirds 🙂
        I also did a little bit of sanitizing with some 50/50 vinegar water — just to keep things clean.

        1. Hi Gene,

          It would appear that a snake was the culprit. Snake leave everything looking intact. They take the content and leave.

          Glad to hear that you cleaned up de box. Pls, consider using a snake guard on you nesting box, it really helps your bluebirds.

          Good luck!
          Al

  52. Have any of you out there had pair of bluebirds that successfully hatched and raised a brood of four in the bluebird box without building a nest?! After the young fledged we opened up the box to clean it out, and there was not a scrap of nesting material inside. Now they are nesting again, and I didn’t once see the female bringing any nesting materials to the box. We’re baffled!
    I’d love to hear if anyone has had this experience.

    1. Hello Lin,

      They can put together a nest in not time. Bluebirds, like other birds, pick a random time of the day to work intensively on building a nest and then stop and do something else for the rest of the day. This may lead to perhaps missing those times when she was working on the nest. As a matter of fact, the female does most of the nest building while he hangs around defending the territory and helping occasionally.

      Maybe someone else has experience on this.
      Al.

  53. James Cartmell

    Fledge flock returning to my feeder daily. Seem comfortable with it and with my observing from the patio. Had 3 broods this season (4-4-3) from a dedicated hard working pair. Last year I changed the height, alignment, and location of the nest box. Worked wonderfully. Had a few lookers the other day – late October.

  54. I’m considering planting a 4-6 ft Japanese maple somewhere in front of the box for blue bird fledglings because there are no other perch points other than a chain link fence (the box is in a corner of my backyard) and a crepe Myrtle in back and out of sight of the box.
    There are cypress trees that the Robin fledglings love to use but they are 20 yards away.
    Wondering if the Japanese maple is good enough cover and perhaps the cypress and chain link is enough.
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Bill,

      I am not sure the Japanese Maple would make much difference. When fledglings leave the nest for the first time, they don’t seem to have a target landing perch. They take off and will land on the next perch that appears in front of them. If the tree you plan on planting is there in front of the trajectory they choose, then it will be used. Planting the tree where you are going to enjoy it the most would be an important consideration.

      Regards,
      Al

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