Friday, March 23, 2007

Tree Tubes Present Hazard to Birds

The following was originally posted to the MDOsprey listserv by Paul Kilduff:
It’s a good time to warn all bird lovers about tree tubes. These are used to protect saplings from deer. Usually consisting of a plastic tube about 4’ high held up by plastic ties and wooden states, these tubes are attractive nuisances for bluebirds: the male bluebird wants to explore all possible nesting cavities, so he will go into the tube and fall to the bottom and not be able to get out (this kind of thing doesn’t exist in the wild). I have freed quite a few trapped bluebirds from these infernal devices, and have removed even more dead ones.

The tree tube manufacturers sell (or include) woven plastic tops, or “socks,” to go over the tops of the tubes. These will effectively prevent male bluebirds from going into the tubes.

If not, you can use some means to create a small exit slot or hole at the bottom of the tube, such as pulling the stake out of the ground 1.5 inches. I don’t want deer to eat saplings, but even more than that I don’t want any birds, much less native birds already suffering from competition from invasives, to die of starvation or dehydration due to thoughtless human activity.
The good news is that this source of mortality is easily preventable by taken taking the simple precautions mentioned by Paul. Nuthatch at Bootstrap Analysis had the same thought I did when I first read about this problem: that wrens—which seem to have a proclivity for exploring every little nook and cranny—might also be susceptible to becoming trapped in tree tubes. And what about Tree Swallows?

3 Comments:

Blogger elizabird said...

On the subject of bad for birds....Bill of the Birds tells of the owl killing sign posts!

March 23, 2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

While not normally one to brag, elizabird, I'll use this opportunity to point that I scooped Bill on this story by about 5 weeks (see here), but he admittedly got a far greater response from his (many more) readers.

March 23, 2007 4:07 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Oops! I messed up that link: try here.

March 23, 2007 4:12 PM  

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