Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Handle Bird Nests Carefully

Eastern Phoebe in the shadows.

Today I have another bird story.  It's going to give you the heebie jeebie's, but it's something to be aware of.  There can be a downside to providing nesting places for the birds.  I am talking about the Eastern Phoebe but it could be any bird.

Every year we have Eastern Phoebes nesting on the top log right under the overhang.  They use the same nest if they can and fix up a new nest on top of the old one.  They only rebuild if we remove the nest.

This is a nest full of Phoebe babies.

Last year was a very dry and hot summer.  We had Phoebes nesting in the front of the house but we took down the nest in the back.   This was the space my husband was using to build a screen porch for my dad.

Completed Screen Porch

When the porch was finished, we used it for a while, and then we went on vacation for about ten days.  While we were gone the birds were busy but we didn't realize it.  As soon as we got home and settled in, we started using the porch again.  As many of you know, dad spends hours out on the screened porch listening to his books.  He likes not having mosquitoes or flies to contend with.  After a few days,  he started itching.  First it was his arms and neck.  We thought it was so hot that he probably had a heat rash.  Then his chest and legs had little red itchy spots.  I hadn't spent much time out there because it was so hot.  One day I went out and sat for just a little while.  While sitting there, I started to itch and could see little tiny clearish white bugs crawling on my arms.  I looked them up and found out that we had bird mites.  They live in bird nests.  Boy did we move fast after that.  It is a big big problem if the mites get into the house.  We found a Phoebe nest had been built directly under the porch.  We took everything off the porch and hosed down the walls and floor.  Then we sprayed with Home Defense several times.  We put a carpet wall to wall over the decking boards.  The birds below had fledged so we were able to scoop the nest into a plastic bag and we cleaned below the porch.  We also hung a no-pest strip.  Now we had to heal up my dad.  We slathered him with calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream.  It didn't take long before everything was back to normal.  This year we check regularly to make sure no birds are rebuilding under the porch.

Now that I have you itching everywhere, I will show you how cute the bird babies are, and why we always let them live under the eaves of our house.

Young Eastern Phoebe's who have just left the nest. 

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