Bluebird and Small Cavity Nester Conservation
Sialis - Bluebirds and other small cavity nesters

eggsNo-Trap Experimental
Hill Trailette Log 2007

See description of Hill Trail and aerial photo, and photos from 2007 | 2008 log | 2009 log.
Also see other trail logs. This is an experimental trail in a HOSP infested area where I am not trapping.


2006 (one-hole only)

? possibly 1 or 2
6 or 7+?
2007 (two-hole only)
1 nest - 2 fledged
multiple nests- 0 fledged
2 nests - 2 eggs - 0 fledged
Hill trail.

BCCH = Black-capped Chickadee
EABL = Eastern Bluebird
HOSP = House Sparrow
NABS = NABs style nestbox
PETE = Peterson style nestbox
PW=paper wasp
SLOT = Slot style entrance on nestbox
TRES = Tree Swallow

Note: Hanging boxes are about 100 yards apart. I am counting a nest as an attempt - especially because I am removing HOSP nests. Some monitors only count an attempt when an egg has been laid.

Boxes with numbers followed by an "x" are not part of this experimental trail, but I try to keep an eye on them. They are single-holers, pole mounted, with the entrance about 5 feet off the ground.

In the 2006 nesting season (before I started monitoring the trail) it appears from nests left in boxes that all seven single-holed boxes were used by HOSP, although one or two may have been Tree Swallow nests.

2007 Trail Log
ID Type 2007 Attempt #, Species & Fate Notes
H-8 Two-hole mansion
Apple Tree

1/7: no evidence of roosting. 2/16: BOX MISSING (stolen?)
3/11: Assume it was stolen
4/13: Put notice and photo in newspaper to try to recover. Did not get a response.

H-9 Two-hole mansion
Moved on 5/19.
Maple Tree
5/6: HOSP egg
Total eggs = 5

Flying squirrel

1/7: acorns in box, some broken. Red Squirrel?
3/11: < 1/2" nesting material, possibly HOSP.
3/16: 3" HOSP nest? Left to recheck.
3/24: completed nest using a lot of grape vines, looks like HOSP, no eggs, left to recheck.
4/5: HOSP nest complete, no eggs, saw M HOSP in box. Removed nest.
4/13: Some HOSP nesting material, removed.
4/22: Some HOSP nesting material? 1". Not sure, left in place.
4/28: Completed HOSP nest, removed.
5/3: Completed HOSP nest with cigarette filters. Removed.
5/6: Had rebuilt (again using cigarette filters, cellophane and batting from roof), 1 egg. Removed.
5/8: Had rebuilt (again cigarette filters, green grass), no egg. Nest removed.
5/15: Rebuilt, 4 eggs, removed.
5/19: No nest, no eggs. Box relocated 4 trees farther north towards point of triangle.
5/26: No nest.
06/2: Several inches of fresh green leaves. Red Squirrel? Flying Squirrel? Left to see.
6/9: Flying squirrel came out. Green leaves only visible, left in place. They are probably the source of acorns I found in the boxes in early spring.
6/16: Just leaves, maybe a few more than last time.
6/22: Some chunks of grass with leaves, no adult seen.
6/30, 7/6: no change except maybe some more grass.
7/14: More grass inside with tunnel, adult FS inside when checked.
7/22: not checked to avoid disturbing squirrel
7/28: No change, squirrel not in box at time fo monitoring

H-10 Two-hole mansion with partial

Plexiglas back under roof

Hanging in an older Oak tree with branches that are more spread out than others
1/7: Messy grass nest with several large gray feathers - HOSP? Leftover nest from last year? I'm not sure. After discussing with L Violett, appears to be a leftover WEBL nest.
3/11: acorn shells
3/16: no action
3/24: Saw pair of bluebirds in the tree. Just some acorns inside.
4/13: no nesting material, just acorn shells
4/22, 28, 5/3, 5/6, 5/8: Nothing.
5/15: Tufted Titmouse nest - possibly ones that lost out to HOSP in H-11. No eggs. Will put hole guards on tommorrow.
5/16: installed hole restrictors on interior of box.
5/19: no eggs yet.
5/26: HOWR sticks on top of TUTI nest. Sticks removed.
06/2: HOSP nest, no eggs, removed HOSP part, left TUTI base.
6/9: TUTI base only.
6/17: no activity. removed TUTI base and hole restrictor. Saw male EABL in tree.
6/22, 30, 7/6, 7/14, 7/22, 7/29: nothing

Two-hole mansion
Maple Tree

Partial Plexiglas roof on this box

Total HOSP eggs = 3
1/7: no evidence of roosting
3/11: acorn shells
3/16, 3/24: no action
4/05: Box had been lowered, was hanging on a very low branch. HOSP nest start, removed.
4/13: Nothing inside. Placed back on higher branch.
4/22: ? Hosp nesting material? Not sure. Left.
4/28: TUTI nest in progress, saw pair fly away from box.
5/3: TUTI nest farther along, nest cup not complete.
5/6, 5/8: Still no nest cup.
5/15: HOSP took over nest, added grass, laid one egg. Removed.
5/19: HOSP added grass, laid 2 eggs. Removed.
5/26: HOWR nest (no eggs). Removed all nesting material, found two TUTI eggs underneath the TUTI nest.
06/2: empty
6/9: A few pcs of grass
6/16: nothing.
6/22: 1" HOSP nest, removed.
6/30, 7/6, 7/14, 7/22, 7/29: empty

Two-hole mansion
Maple Tree

Stained gray

Total HOSP eggs = 6
EABL 6/30 first egg - 3 total.
2 EABL nestlings fledged

1/7: no evidence of roosting
3/11: nothing, but EABL M perched in tree
3/16, 3/24: no action
4/13: Did not check, lifter broke (see notes)
4/22: Nothing.
4/28: A little grass and moss, left.
5/3: HOSP nest on top of moss? Left just in case.
5/6: More advanced, looks like HOSP, left just in case.
5/8: Still looks like HOSP but a bit weird, left to verify with eggs.
5/15: HOSP nest, tunnel entrance, 1 egg. Removed.
5/19: nothing
5/26: HOSP had rebuilt, no eggs.
06/2: HOSP nest, 5 eggs, all removed.
6/9, 6/16, 22: empty
6/30: 7" tall bluebird nest, 1 egg. Timing is right for it to be the pair that had an empty nest 600 yards away on 6/22.
7/6: 3 bluebird eggs, female incubating
7/14: still 3 eggs. Incubation probably began on 7/2, so this is day 13. Might hatch tommorrow. Bluebird seen in area.
7/21: 2 fuzzy young
7/29: 2 young, looking good, mother seen
8/5: 2 young gone. Blowflies. Box cleaned out.

2007 One Hole Box (Not My Box)
ID Type 2007 Attempt #, Species & Fate This box is across the street from plugged #6 box, in between H-9 and H-10. It is not my box, and I can not plug it.
6X NABS (1 hole)

Added 1.25" reducer on 5/6

3/11: across the street from plugged #6 box (not mine) checked, < 1/2" nesting material, possibly HOSP, nesting material removed. About 40 feet from H-9.
3/16: HOSP nest - 3". Left to recheck. Heard HOSP.
3/23: HOSP nest almost complete, saw pair of HOSP fly out, removed nest.
4/5: HOSP nest, no eggs, removed.
4/7: A little bit of grass from HOSP, removed.
4/13: A little bit of grass from HOSP, removed again.
4/22: A little HOSP nesting material, removed.
4/28: 1" HOSP nesting material, removed.
5/3: 1/2 HOSP nest, removed.
5/6: 1/3 HOSP nest, removed. Put 1.25" reducer on outside of box.
5/8: Only one piece of grass inside, removed.
5/16: HOWR sticks inside.
5/19: HOSP nest, female flew out, 3 eggs two of which were greenish.
5/26: HOSP nest, 2 eggs. Removed.
6/2: HOSP nest, no eggs. Removed.
6/9: HOSP nest, 5 eggs, removed
6/16: 1" HOSP nest, removed.
6/22: 2 HOSP eggs and nest, removed.
6/29: 1/4" nest and 1 HOSP egg, male on box, removed.
7/6: complete HOSP nest, no eggs, left in place. Many HOSP heard.
7/14: 5 HOSP eggs, F flushed. Oiled with vegetable oil and returned to nest to avoid harrassment of bluebird nest.
7/22: eggs gone, nest bigger, removed
7/29, 8/5: empty

General Notes:

  • APPROXIMATE SHORTEST distances between boxes: (note: H-9 is >300 feet away from H-10 and H-11).
    • H11 to H12: 230 feet
    • H11 to H10: 260 feet?
    • H10 to H9: 350 feet
    • H9 to H12: 220 feet
    • 6x to H10: 100 feet
    • 6x to H9: 250 feet
    • Note: the recommended distance between boxes for bluebirds is 300 feet, but these boxes were spaced more closely in 2007 because of limitations in tree locations, size of the town green, and the hope of attracting other native cavity nesters.
  • 01/07/07: Checked boxes for roosting evidence. No signs of chewing on entrance holes Plugged up existing wooden-pole mounted boxes. Five bluebirds seen in the vicinity of single-holed box 6, frantic over box being closed up (attempting to enter.) BCCH and nuthatches heard in area.
  • 2/16: Box # H-8 is missing (didn't see it on a drive by two weeks ago. It was apparently in a too climb-able apple tree) Others are in place.
  • 3/11: Checked boxes again as weather finally went above freezing. One or two male bluebirds seen, HOSP heard across the street. had an easier time with pole system, no boxes dropped.
  • 3/16: Very cold, snowing. HOSP heard across from #6. Much easier time lowering and replacing boxes.
  • 3/24: 63 degrees, sunny. Pole broke while lowering boxes, must fix.
  • 4/5: 35 degrees, quick check on H-11 and 6X.
  • 4/7: One complete HOSP nest in H-9, saw male in box, no eggs. A little grass in H12 and 6X. Many HOSP heard in area. Measured distance between boxes, appoximately 300 feet except for 150 feet between H-12 to H-10 and H-11 to H-10. Box 6X is 50 feet from H-10, 200 feet from H-9. Kept pole vertical and "walked up" it to remove and lower boxes. Also had to position box relative to sides of basket to keep it from swinging. Getting better. Didn't drop any at least.
  • 4/13: Doug was rushing due to nasty weather, and dropped one box (fortunately no contents) while lowering, and then broke the lifter completely while lowering another box - the plastic snapped. Will replace and get a better pole (stronger one from Lowes). In the meantime, will use a ladder to check boxes. It's a learning process...and Doug is having trouble remembering that when the pole leaves the ground, it has to be in a vertical position at all times.
  • 4/22: Used a lightweight ladder to check boxes, Doug was MUCH happier with that approach. Heard a male EABL singing vigorously in the woods to the south.
  • 4/28: Ladder working well.
  • 5/3: thought we saw a pair of bluebirds.
  • 5/6: cold and windy. Changed direction of empty H-10 to face away from prevailing wind (W). Heard HOSP by H-9.
  • 5/8: Warm and sunny. Went up to check to see whether I could put hole reducers on Titmouse box. No nest cup. I do not want to put the reducers on until there is an egg.... TUTI are too easily spooked. Saw two pairs of bluebirds but not on the Town Green, I think they may be nesting nearby (maybe in cow fields to SW).
  • 5/15: Returned from trip, and monitored. Found two bluebird nests in one-holed boxes (7x and 8x) in cow pasture about 600 yards away from the green where these boxes are. The boxes were about 100 yards apart. One (the farthest away from two-holers - box 8x) had 3 EABL eggs. On 5/26 it had four bluebird eggs. The closer one (7x) that had no eggs the previous week had HOSP nesting material in it (removed.) On 6/2, there was a HOSP in 7x. Box 8x had 3 bluebird nestlings in it. On 6/9 and 6/17, nothing in 7x, 3 EABL nestlings in 8x. The nestlings had apparently fledged by 6/22, nest removed. On 6/30, HOWR nest in 7x. Box 8x empty.
  • 5/16: Requested permission to monitor boxes 7x and 8x with bluebird nests in them. Denied. Put up hole restrictors on H-10. Watched box H-10 from car after putting on hole restrictors for about 15 minutes until cops made me leave. No activity other than HOSP in area.
  • 5/19: Moved H-9 farther towards where H-8 was (branches are less accessible in that tree though) to provide more spacing between boxes. HOSP are laying some eggs with a distinct greenish cast. In H-11, two eggs in one nest were very different - see photo. Makes me wonder about egg dumping.
  • 6/9: rainy and cold. HOSP heard. Leaves are covering up most of the boxes.
  • 7/29: very hot - 90+F.
Hill Trail, box layout
ID Type 2006 Attempt #, Species & Fate
1 NABS HOSP - blue feathers
2 SLOT HOSP - saw male perching
6 NABS HOSP - active, 4 eggs on 8/10
7 NABS HOSP, poss TRES. seed heads.
8/10/06: cleaned out contents of all boxes. Some split roofs. Looks like the pole-mounted boxes had not been emptied in years. See photos. No sign of paper wasps. All appear to have been used for nesting by HOSP, although one box may have had a TRES nest in it. No HOWR sticks in any boxes.
9/06: Installed 5 new two-holed mansions in trees. Saw at least one male EABL.
1/7/07: Plugged up ground boxes. Evidence of birds roosting in most of them. Bluebirds (five in the area) attempted to enter Box #6 after it was plugged. Acorns found in one of the two hole mansions, what looked like a HOSP nest in another (could have been a leftover nest from Linda's WEBLs that I forgot to clean out). Doors were sticking (from silicone caulk) - will sand them down. Had difficulty lowering and replacing boxes, dropped two, got poked in eye by branch, shook up boxes quite a bit. Need to practice! Will prune some of the branches that get in the way for a clear path during takedowns/liftups, and keep an eye on the box at all times.

    When we try to pick out anything by itself in nature we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
    - John Muir

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