Mariton: Cleaning House

February 22, 2017

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Photo by Carole Mebus

I cleaned out my nest boxes this morning. Eastern Bluebirds have been singing on nice days for a few weeks now.  I have seen Bluebirds occasionally over the last months.  During winter, they can feed on dry berries and other fruits to get them through the winter.  This was a tough winter though, because the drought last summer and fall didn’t leave much fruit for wildlife.  Fortunately it has been a mild winter so far, and the Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) produced a good crop.

Mouse nest

This is a little earlier than I normally clean out my boxes, but it seemed like a good day to do the job. Bluebirds have started investigating the nest boxes looking for potential nest sites for future use.  As I expected, there were mouse nests in most of the boxes located in the thicker parts of the fields.  After cleaning out the old nests, I prop the box open with a twig.  It will help air things out, and deter mice from building another nest.  It is supposed to rain this weekend, which will also help in the spring cleaning.  I’ll monitor the boxes for the next two weeks and do some winter maintenance.  Then I’ll close them up just in time for Bluebirds to start house shopping.  I didn’t have mouse issues in the short grass areas of the fields, but I still propped open the boxes.