The first spring we were here, we put up 2 bluebird nest boxes and we had bluebirds nesting in both. Apparently there was a shortage of good nesting sites in the area! We did have a problem with rat snakes getting into 1 of the boxes that first spring. We had been watching the parent birds take good care of the babies and it was getting close to the time that they should be leaving the nest. One morning, I heard the adults making such a fuss that I knew something was wrong. I looked out the window to see a rat snake hanging out of the nest box so I got out there as fast as I could to try to save the babies. I grabbed the snake hanging out of the box but he was able to slip through my hands and completely into the nest box. I opened the box to find not one, but two snakes inside! I got the snakes out and into a bag so I could transport them a few miles away and not have to worry about them coming back. I had gotten there just in time because one of the baby bluebirds had a very wet head – I am sure it had been in the mouth of one of the snakes that I startled! So I closed up the nest box and drove the snakes to a wooded area a few miles from the farm and released them. When I got home there was another snake hanging out of the same nest box! Once again I ran out and bagged the snake and saved the baby birds. Another drive to release the snake. When I got home this time – yet another snake! I had never expected that so many snakes would be after the same little nest of birds. What was worse, one snake got away as I was bagging one that was in the nest box. Sadly, one of the baby birds was missing this time so one of the snakes did get a meal. I found some grease to coat the nest box pole in an effort to keep snakes from climbing it and kept watch the rest of the day. When Todd got home, we constructed “snake guards” out of hardware cloth to mount under both nest boxes and have had no snake problems since. The 4 remaining babies in that nest fledged successfully.
Every year since that first spring, we have had bluebirds nesting in one box and violet tree swallows nesting in the other. Both species are beautiful and fun to observe. The tree swallows construct a very pretty nest that is lined with fluffy white feathers. The bluebird nest had these 4 perfect little blue eggs in it yesterday. I haven’t checked today yet, but there will either be another egg or the mama bird will start sitting. She doesn’t start incubating the eggs until she is done laying eggs (1 each day). That way all the eggs should hatch at about the same time.