Comments & Questions

This area is for comments and questions.  It is moderated by the leadership of the Missouri Bluebird Society and is open for you to get answers to your Bluebird related questions.

44 Responses to Comments & Questions

  1. George Kopp says:

    When is the best time to put up a bluebird house?

    • Jack Dodson says:

      Today is always a good day to put up a nestbox. While it is true that you are not going to get a nesting attempt in Missouri this time of year, bluebirds may start checking it out for next years use and you will be ahead of the game.
      Best Wishes,
      Jack Dodson

  2. Nancy says:

    I got a bluebird nestbox for my birthday. I live in rural Polk county Missouri. What is the best location and height for this nestbox?

    • Steve Garr says:

      Bluebird boxws make great gifts. The best location
      for me is one where you can watch your bluebirds. I like putting the nest box on a metal pole this helps discourage predators, plus if needed you can add a baffle later to stop snakes and raccoons. I like facing the nest box toward a branch or power line 25 to 100 feet away so the male bluebird can watch the entrance hole when the female is on the nest.
      Keep in touch,
      Steve Garr

  3. Karin Pelton says:

    I have a bluebird box in my back yard and I was told that it should be facing a certain direction and that its a certain height is this true and if it is what would that be? Thanks

  4. Claudia Trautmann says:

    What is the nesting and breeding season for bluebirds in Missouri? We have several bluebird boxes that should be cleaned out but I don’t want to deprive any bluebirds of their homes!

  5. Steve Garr says:

    Hi Claudia,
    In most of Missouri Bluebirds will nest an average of three times per season, often beginning in March ( sometimes before, sometimes after.) Really it is best to remove the old nest material after the babies have fledged after EACH nesting, not just at the end of the season. It is safer for the birds if you will do this. If old nest material is not removed, the nests tend to draw parasites and predators, plus the Bluebirds repeatedly build on top of the old nest putting their eggs and babies too close to the entrance hole of the box, and thus in jeopardy of being killed or removed by predators that reach into the box. Even if this years first nest has already started in your nest box you will be able to see the difference between the new and old nest. Remove the old nest material and you are ready for your bluebirds.
    Good Luck,
    Steve Garr
    Missouri Bluebird Society

  6. Carol Williams says:

    This is a comment & question I guess. Upon visiting the dam area at Branson, Mo this past week, I came upon a BB trail and was very excited, UNTIL I noticed the boxes were mounted on 4X4 wooden posts-very easy for predators to climb. There were Mo. Conservation Department signs on the posts, so I’m not sure if the boxes belonged to the Dept. or just put there by individuals. They were being monitored I’m sure because there were numbers on the boxes. Where might I begin to get this imnproper mounting matter looked into? I’m an avid Bluebirder and have had the same pair of blues for the past 3 summers, with lots of successful fledgings (along with a couple of failures due to ignorance the first year). The boxes look ok to specs for BB boxes, Except for these wooden poles. The trail area itself if very good, lots of open territory, but as this is the Lake of the Ozarks, there are still lots of woods & trees in the general vicinity, with snakes, racconns, etc. And by the way, I agree that the Sialis website is absolutely the best – I read it over and over my first bluebirding year. Thanks for any help.

    • Steve Garr says:

      Thank you for your email. I also think that the boxes need to be on metal post with a predator guard. I have known bluebirders that have been very successful mounting nest boxes on wooden post without a baffle. I prefer not to take that chance. Often predators find a nest box after a couple of clutches have fledged because of the odor that is left behind from the droppings. Baffles do work on wooden post but without some type of baffle or predator control on a trail you often end up feeding predators instead of raising bluebirds.
      I would rather see less nest boxes with baffles than a lot of nest boxes without baffles.
      Thank you for your concern,
      Steve Garr
      MOBS President

      • Carol Williams says:

        Steve, I forgot I had inquired about these improper trail boxes in Branson, MO. I guess I was waiting to hear from someone, and did not realize you had responded on this site. Is there any way for the MOBS to follow up with the Mo. Conservation Dept. about this? I believe I had contacted them, but got no response, so thought maybe this State Organization might have more influence.

  7. We look forward to hosting the 2010 Missouri Bluebird Conference in Jefferson City in September! Until available on this site, please click onto the following website to download a complete CONFERENCE BROCHURE and registration form, as well as a MAP and a Schedule of Events: or call 573-638-2473 for more information.
    We look forward to seeing you there!
    Steve Garr,
    Missouri Bluebird Society President

  8. george walther says:

    I live in South St. Louis County near Butler Hill and Lemay Ferry Rd.Three to five Bluebirds showed up 2-3 weeks ago and have been using the birdbath in my yard.I’ve put out mealworms but they haven’t seem to have discovered them yet or are not interested.Any suggestions.

  9. Veci Billings says:

    While out walking I have seen a pair of blue birds on the trail behinde the University of Missouri Sports arean. Is this common for them to be here during the winter?

    • Steve Garr, MOBS President says:

      Yes! Bluebirds are year-round residents in most of Missouri. Actually, parts of Missouri get even more Bluebirds in the winter than they have in the summer months, because some “northern” bluebirds do move down to our state in the winter before returning north for breeding season. Nest boxes on poles often make great roosting cavities for our bluebirds in the winter.
      Steve Garr

  10. Lynn McClamroch says:

    Hi all, I just have one quick question. I live in Kirksville, are there any other members in this area of Missouri. We have a new Conservation Office that would make a great meting place sometime in the future. Thanks for the info.


    • Regina Garr, MOBS secretary says:

      Hi Lynn,
      Thanks for your post. We have a few MOBS members in your area, but still have lots of room for growth! THANK YOU for thinking of MOBS with regard to meeting places in your area. It takes many members and volunteers to put on one of our Annual Conferences, and the more highly populated areas seem to provide a better base for that for now….however, the place you describe sounds WONDERFUL for a regional meeting of some sort ( perhaps 1/2 a day, or a couple hours?) and may be just what the area needs to grow membership!
      The EDUCATIONAL BROCHURE developed by the MOBS Board of Directors and downloadable for this website is a perfect tool for a meeting of that sort. Also- we are developing a power point CD that members can use to give programs on their own in their areas.
      Perhaps you could give a program at the new Conservation Office in your area! Email me at :, and I will email you privately if you have more questions.
      ALSO–IF OTHER MEMBERS in your area see this post and would like to help with a Bluebird meeting in Kirksville, PLEASE REPLY TO THIS POST!
      Regina, MOBS secretary

  11. Ron F. says:

    Are there any places in or near St. Louis to regularly observe bluebirds? I’ve been birdwatching for a while and have not seen many.

  12. Dave Hartwig says:

    What’s MOBS opinion on the Troyers short, slotted, sparrow-resistant BB house thats in the Troyers Bring Back the Bluebirds book. What are the pros and the cons?

  13. Becky says:

    We found a dead female bluebird on the ground right below the birdhouse where she had laid 5 eggs. Two weeks later we find a dead male right in the same spot! Could this be other birds doing this? They have nested here for several years with no problems like this.

    • Regina Garr says:

      Becky, we regret that we just received your message today, but hope you will still find this information helpful. In instances like the ones that occurred with your birds, we first check the back of the heads of the bluebirds for any injury. If it appears the back of the head was wounded (ie pecked by a bird), It is likely the culprit was a House Sparrow. The fact that you found the dead birds so close to the nest box is evidence that they were trying to protect their eggs. Of course, there are other predators that could have caused the problem. The good news is, even after such occurrences, generally that nest box can still be a productive box for other bluebirds. You may have to implement some predator control, depending on what caused the problem. Hopefully, you have, or will have new residents in the box soon!

  14. Mary LaRuffa says:

    I was lucky to get a pair of bluebirds to nest in my box the end of April. Unfortunately, my neighbor found a dead bluebird last week and I have not seen the mate in two days. Yesterday I checked the nest and there are five blue eggs in the nest. Will the other mate return? How long do I wait before I clean the nest?

    • Steve Garr says:

      I certainly appreciate your obvious concern for the Bluebirds!
      Before you do anything please check to make sure that when you are checking the nest box that it just happens to be when the bluebirds are not around. To check to see if a bird is entering the box, you can place a small blade of grass across the entrance hole. If the grass is still there the next day a bird has not entered the entrance hole. You did not specify which bird was found dead. Was it the male or the female? The female is capable of incubating the eggs without the male. It may depend on how soon the eggs are due to hatch whether or not the female would abandon the nest or not. I have had a female bluebird fledge a clutch of young bluebirds after the male was killed. To ease the burden of her hunting for food alone all of the time I supplemented her diet with mealworms. If it is the female that was found dead the male is unable to incubate the eggs and they probably will not hatch. Just because you are not seeing the mate does not mean that it was one of your nesting pair of bluebirds that was found dead. If you are going to remove the eggs and nest I would give it at least two weeks after the estimated time to hatch. The incubation for Eastern Bluebirds is 14 to 16 days, and the time does not start until the female starts incubating the eggs. Incubation does not always start after the last egg is laid, but that is the day we use to estimate hatch date. Sometimes the best we can do is watch and wait! Good Luck.

  15. Mike D. says:

    I live in Nevada, MO and have noticed bluebirds around our nest box. We are new to the area and am not sure if they are just exploring or are looking to start nesting. According to what I’ve read it is a little early. Have others noticed bluebirds starting to nest?

    • Steve Garr says:

      Hi Mike,
      Most of Missouri is fortunate to be able to enjoy Bluebirds year-round! “Our” bluebirds really don’t migrate –they just shuffle around a bit to better wintering habitat, and sometimes that is only a mile or so from where they nested.
      Bluebirds are not territorial during the winter and will frequently roost together inside a nest box (several in the same box!). And on sunny days, even when it is cold, you may see a pair of bluebirds courting and investigating around a nest box. In winter that behavior is usually short-lived and they go back to feeding and roosting in groups together and save the real “pairing up” for the last of February or first of March (and depending on the year they may even wait until late March). We like to have all of our boxes and habitat ready for our bluebirds to nest the end of February –because they have nested that early–however most years they wait until March.
      Hope that helps , and enjoy your bluebirds!
      Steve Garr
      MOBS, president

      • Diane Montague says:

        I just found your website. We are in NW MO; 35 miles east of KC and want to attract bluebirds but don’t have a box; Ijust bought Blue Bird suet bits, and put them in a separate window tray outside our kitchen window that is filled with sunflower seed. We are surrounded by hemlocks in our yard, and old growth hardwood trees that are 15 feet away and go on for miles on our east side. Do we have to have a box on a pole? It’s January 16th 2021. Thanks for your help

  16. Linda Ziegenhorn says:

    I’m a Kansas Master Naturalist, and we have started monitoring bluebird boxes in Kansas. Several of the trails have been reported to Minnesota BBRP. others have not been reported at all. Do we need to continue to report these to Minnesota or would it be better to report to Missouri since we are neighbors?

    • Steve Garr says:

      Linda, Thank you so much for your interest! Yes, MOBS would love to have your trail /nest box data….we actually do have a few members in Kansas and would love to have more. There is a Summary Form for trail data on this website (Scroll down the right sidebar to the section on “MOBS FORMS”). The report is to be printed out and mailed to the address on the form. (cannot be filled out on line).
      I want to make sure you know that, at this time, MOBS nesting data is not entered into Cornell’s “Nest Watch” data. We publish our nesting totals each year in our newsletter. Many of our members DO report to Nest Watch on their own. I do not know if Minnesota BBRP reports their nesting totals to Nest Watch or not, however even if they do not, consideration should be made to either keep reporting your data to them also, for the trails that currently do that, or make certain BBRP knows the situation so they can allow for the gap in reporting in their records (you probably knew that).
      Thank you for being so purposeful in your care for our Eastern Bluebirds and other native cavity – nesters!!
      Steve Garr, MOBS president

  17. Steve Garr says:

    Announcing the 2019 Missouri Bluebird Conference! July 12th – 14th in St Louis. The Friday evening banquet and Saturday programs will be at Orlando’s Event Center in Maryland Heights and the Host Hotel is the Drury Inn and Suites in Creve Coeur. Get more Details Here:
    Registration form coming soon!
    Steve Garr, MOBS president

  18. George says:

    We have a blue bird that has been coming to our bird feeder about 7:00 am and staying till dark for the past two days. During this time the bird flys into our sunroom window about every two or three minutes and reruns to the feeder. Have you ever seen this behavior?

  19. Dan Maresh says:

    We had four bluebird eggs in our nestbox a couple weeks ago and two of them hatched. I noticed a few days ago, a couple of the hatchlings have died in the recent cold. The other two eggs have not hatched. I removed the two dead birds today but I’m wondering if the other eggs are viable. Should I remove them also or remove the entire nest. The parents are still around but not sitting on the nest.

    • missouribluebird says:

      Hi Dan, Unfortunately those eggs are not viable. I would suggest removing the nest along with the eggs.

    • Steve Garr says:

      Dan, I agree, remove the nest and eggs. This shows the importance of monitoring the box on a regular basis–now you can give the Bluebirds a chance to re-nest and start again in a clean, safe cavity. Good luck with the next nesting, Steve Garr MOBS

  20. Ron says:

    I had bluebirds since end of March.They had babies in the nest last week ,I left for 2 days Came back to feed them and the bluebirds were gone and sparrows moved in . What happened?

    • Mary LaRuffa says:

      Sparrows are predators. They probably killed them and took over the nest. This happened to my bluebirds. Now I guard and chase both sparrows and wrens from occupying the house.

  21. ron frisch says:

    How can you tell the difference between a bluebird nest in our sparrow nest? I keep having sparrows trying to invade my bluebird nest

    • Steve Garr says:

      When the nest is first being built sometimes it can be hard to tell the House sparrow nest from the Bluebird nest if both species are using grass. If you see the nest is made of pine needles or pine straw it is a pretty safe bet it is a bluebird. Here is a link to a pdf brochure I put together as a Quick Reference Guide to Cavity Nester nests…we will try to get this on the MOBS website as well. be sure to look at both pages: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?

      • Mary La Ruffa says:

        The sparrows are determined to occupy the houses. The bluebirds come and sit on the roof and the sparrows chase them. I have emptied the houses twice of started sparrow nests and yet they keep coming back. I have not seen bluebirds now for two days. For the past five years I had two houses occupied all summer by bluebirds and their young. I am getting discouraged!

  22. Dave & Anita says:

    Sparrows put anything and everything into a nest (kinda like trash) Blue birds use leaves, small twigs, no feathers

  23. Kristie Hertzog says:

    When is the Purple Martin tour in Jamesport, MO, at Mr. Ray s property, scheduled this year-2022?

    • Steve Garr says:

      Hi Kristie! Each year for the last several years Ivan Ray Miller’s Open House in Jamesport has been the first Saturday in June…it seems a safe bet it will be again this year, however we do not have OFFICIAL confirmation on that date. We will print the date in the April issue of the MOBS Fledgling + any other info Ivan wants us to include. I hope to see you there!

  24. Phil Yust says:

    I live in St. Joseph and have had bluebirds nesting in our three boxes for the last ten years with great success. But the last two years we have not seen any bluebirds at all in our backyard. Does anyone have any ideas or know why we are not seeing any bluebirds? This has been very disappointing as we would always have 3-4 nestings every year. Nothing has really changed in our backyard to scare them away. Occasionally we will see a hawk in the backyard, otherwise no changes.

    • Steve Garr says:

      HI Phil – I sent you a rather long reply to this post and to your questions a few days ago- but I do not see it visible here…if you did not receive it, please feel free to email me directly at . Steve Garr

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