Mouse in the House

Last autumn, at the end of the Bluebird nesting season and before winter’s wrath, Robert and I drove around the property to clean all the nest boxes. We wanted them to be ready for the arrival of the birds in Spring.

In several boxes (including two that were used by Bluebirds to successfully rear two and three clutches, and one box used by Tree Swallows for two broods), we found mice that had decided to sublet the boxes for the winter months.

Even though we “asked them to leave” I knew that they may re-inhabit the warm residences within hours after we tossed them out. And, to be honest, that didn’t completely bother me. A mouse has got to make a living, too. But, they pee in their nests and it gets absorbed in the wooden boxes, and yeah, that’s just sort of yucky. I wasn’t sure if a Bluebird would choose a box that has been spoiled by rodents.

In retrospect, I think blocking the entrance holes would have been the best solution. The mice can make nests elsewhere and survive as they have for thousands of years before man-made bird boxes existed. In previous years, we didn’t have this issue and the boxes were still vacant and ready in the Spring after we readied them in the fall.

In early March this early, I visited each box again and tossed five mouse nest which I found in the same boxes we had dumped in November. I wasn’t surprised to find them. But, when I did my first official check for developing birds (not mouse) nests in the boxes last week, I discovered the mice were back.

The first photo is how the mouse nest appears when the box is first opened. There’s a slight scent of mouse urine, but otherwise, it appears to be a very comfy abode.

If I wanted the Bluebirds and Tree Swallows to even consider the boxes they used last year so successfully, I knew I had to expel the mice, but I didn’t have anything but a twig I snapped off a dead weed that was growing alongside the box. Using the flimsy stick, I began digging at the nesting material until the first of many mice decided to make a quick exit. There were perhaps six mice in all.

It’s a good thing I’m not one of those people who explodes in panic around rodents because more than one of the mice landed right on my lap (I was sitting in a golf cart next to the nest box) as it leapt from the box. One mouse even ran up my body and launched itself off my shoulder to get away. But, when you think about the complete mismatch of power between a mouse and human, it’s hard to be frightened by such a cute, and tiny animal.

Fortunately, we have many nest boxes available to our avian friends. While I saw no eggs in any of the boxes last week, I saw nests in several of the boxes. I also observed three Bluebird couples actively ‘owning’ their boxes and two Tree Swallow pairs seem settled on their boxes.

If the weather would cooperate, I might get the chance to spend some time confirming the status of the birds which use our boxes. But, my last jaunt out a few days ago my golf cart ran out of charge and Robert had to come rescue me with the tractor which nearly sunk in the mud before the mission was accomplished. Since then, we’ve had more and more rain. So, I will have to wait to get out and about.

One Comment on “Mouse in the House

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