Monday, August 24, 2015

Final Count Is In

All our little birds have grown up and left the nests!  Considering the fire and drought conditions this year, it has been a good year.

We had a pretty bad fire close to the park that started July 5th.  The whole area the bluebird houses are in was closed to house the fire camp.  With several hundred firefighters camped out, a heliport, caterers, water trucks and other assorted personnel and equipment, we weren’t sure how that would impact our little birds.  For one week we were not able to check the houses at all.  The next week we were allowed into most of the area but there were still a few houses we were not able to get to.

Luckily our little birds (and our flying squirrel) came through it okay.

Final count: 113 Western Bluebirds, 50 Mountain bluebirds, 55 Tree Swallows, 27 Mountain Chickadees and 6 Black-capped Chickadees.

These numbers aren’t too far off from last year. 

With all the houses empty, we’re able to start cleaning and repairing.  We have 53 houses of which many need some kind of repair.  We are going to replace 8 of the houses because they are the wrong size or are getting so old they are falling apart.  Several houses need new critter guards (entry holes) because they have been enlarged by squirrels or woodpeckers.

It’s sort of a fun job to inspect each house, get it all cleaned and sanitized and ready for next year.

The first thing we do is --

Check for wasp nests: 

We are finding a lot of wasps nests this year.

Then, of course, spray the wasps nest: 

Extract the wasps nest: 

Scrap off the old poop and stuff:

Brush the house out real good:
Disinfect with bleach water:
Check to see if any repairs need to be made then close it up for the winter.

You might have noticed Mark wearing a jacket.  We are finally having some cool mornings.  I'm sure all the animals are enjoying the cooler temperatures.  We have been seeing a lot of turkeys this year. This is the largest group we have come across so far - 20!
We’ll spend a few evenings making new bluebird boxes then gathering them all up and getting them back out on the poles.

Another fun, successful Bluebird year!



  1. You can put bluebird boxes on poles? Here the bears destroy any box that they can reach. I think when they attacked my game camera they thought it looked like a bird box.... As of today there are 46 to clean out for next year and 4 more to put up... all, if inhabited, by tree swallows. Hope the fire situation is over soon and all critters, whether 2 legged, 4 legged or winged, survive.

  2. We did have a bear tear down 2 houses this year but normally they aren't a problem. We don't have near the bear population that you do! I think our main predators are weasels. They get in the boxes and eat the eggs. We still have a lot of smoke from surrounding fires but there are no fires (at this time) in the immediate area.

  3. Great post. I always enjoy reading about your adventures. It's hard to believe weasels can wipe out complete families but are so darn cute.
    The smoke here has been pretty bad at times also. Yesterday we could finally see the mountains which are pretty close by. When are you heading out? We plan to pull out Monday and head toward the Black Hills and then south taking our time.

  4. Hi Virginia - We won't be leaving until at least the 16th. There is a WWII Veterans reunion on the 12th and a 50th Girl Scout Jamboree reunion on the 16th that we have been asked to help with. We also have a couple of extra projects that we'll be working on for a while. There's no hurry to get back to Texas! We still have 2 weekends full of interpretation programs too. It's been a fast summer!