My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

what is that in my bluebird box

Yesterday, I took a little hike down ASP Rt. 2 looking for some Shrikes or any other unique winter bird hiding in the shrubs. Being so quiet, I found myself looking inside some of my bluebird boxes that I have not checked since August (removing the older nest left by the bluebirds).

What is that in my bluebird box?

One of the boxes had been filled up with grass. Anyone who has worked with nest boxes knows that I am about to deal with some little furry mammal (not birds). Sure enough, there were 2 Deer Mouse holding their ground and not wanting to leave the box. I was just glad they didn’t run down my arm like they normally do when I open the box.

Mice in the box

I questioned if I should have left these mice alone or just evict them. If this box was regularly used by Tree Swallow’s, I probably would have let them spend the winter there but this exact box has been one of my better Eastern Bluebirds boxes for the past 5 spring/summers. I am afraid that these mice might discourage any bluebird looking for a winter roost or for when the birds decided to start investigating for an empty box. I am also concerned that the urine left by the mice could attract predators which might destroy the box trying to get inside (This summer I had a Black Bear shred apart a box to get inside, ugg). Anytime you remove a mouse nest, you should always use protection over your face so that you don’t inhale any of their dandruff. You should also try leaving the box open for a week to dry the soaked mice urine left buy these cute furballs.
Last spring I encountered this Red Squirrel in one of the new boxes built by some Boy Scouts. It is hard to believe that something so big can live in such a little box. I have found that these squirrels do all kinds of damage by chewing the hole bigger which can then make it easier for predators (raccoons, ect..) to steal the baby nestlings or eggs from the box.

It can become a full time job taking care of all your bluebird boxes but very well worth seeing and hearing the birds out in the fields. I promise to keep you updated with this blog on how the boxes are doing here in Allegany State Park.

8 responses

  1. Beverly

    Look how cute the mice are.
    When you removed them, I’ll bet they were freezing in the cold, snowy weather.
    Will they rebuild in the same box again?

    4 December 2006 at 11:49 pm

  2. Shannon/Allezany

    They’ll have no trouble finding another sheltered spot to winter over…like maybe the next nest box they find! They’re so cute though, you big meanie.

    4 December 2006 at 11:51 pm

  3. Birdmom- The temperature wasn’t that cold and very little snow on the ground. They will do a great job building somewhere else.
    Allezany – don’t mind them being in any other box, just not that good bluebird one.

    5 December 2006 at 8:19 am

  4. Marg

    LOL Tom the meanie-I don’t think so 😀

    I’m sure they will find another home, they are pretty darn cute

    5 December 2006 at 11:00 am

  5. Those burglars are pretty cute, it would be tough to evict looking into their big, cute innocent eyes.
    Question regarding Bluebirds, it seems they really get hassled by other birds and wildlife is it hard for you to maintain those boxes for them?

    5 December 2006 at 9:36 pm

  6. Thanks Marg!
    Talkingtotrees – They are cute! I had raised one last summer before letting it go for the fall season! Those Deer Mouse are much more fun than the White-footed Mouse that I had. I have around 35 or so boxes that I monitor (I need to count the boxes again). I probably only have 5 or so boxes with Bluebirds in them! All other boxes get filled up with Tree Swallows and sometimes cute chickadees, house wren, ect.. in a box or two. Once raccoon’s frequents a box for a while, you need to move it for a while. Also have problems with snakes from time to time. It can be work the more boxes you have! Hope I answered your question!

    5 December 2006 at 10:03 pm

  7. AmatureNaturalist

    It is probably always a surprise when you open up a box after a while. Probably makes you leary of what might be lurking inside.

    I have to agree though, it would be hard for me to kick them out as well;) Got to love the animal lovers here….haha.

    Nah, we know your not a bad guy, just a mean landlord. haha

    5 December 2006 at 11:47 pm

  8. Thanks Am Naturalist! My biggest surprise was last spring with that Red Squirrel in the box! My first time finding ever!! If it was any other box, they would have stayed the winter but this one is just too special for the bluebirds!! And, these guys are just giving me a hard time (well, I do the same to them)! They know that I am just a mean landlord!! 🙂

    6 December 2006 at 8:50 am

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