Bluebirds have fledged!

I just knew I had missed it. Dave and I left on Saturday morning to drive to Charlotte knowing we wouldn’t be back until Sunday afternoon. Four baby bluebirds were in the nest box and could fledge any time. What joy when I came home and discovered that the adult birds were still bringing food to the nest box.

In the heat of the afternoon, it must have been close to 100 degrees, the bluebird adults were drinking from the birdbath. I noticed other birds coming too, so I decided to add a little more fresh water. I think I scared them off doing it. I glanced out the window after adding the water, and I caught the tail end of a dog leaving the yard, which gave me the sinking feeling he might have caught a fledgling on the ground. I eventually dismissed this notion as the dog probably just happened by at the time. There were no feathers on the ground.

I didn’t see the adult birds come to the box over a long period of time, so I peeked inside the box and sure enough there was at least one bird still in there. I quickly closed it not trying to see how many were in the nest.

Then I parked myself in the recliner (elevating my sprained right ankle that had been neglected over the past 24 hours) and waited. After some waiting I saw Papa come to the box and then fly to the arbor. Then suddenly a bird popped out of the box and flew to the top bar of the arbor. It looked a little plump and ragged compared to Papa who flew up to it. I watched it a long time wishing I had picked up my binoculars before sitting in the recliner, but not daring to move now. Then it flew toward the roof and I didn’t see it any more. I continued to watch the birdhouse until it got too dark to see. I saw one of the adults fly to the roof so I suspect it was feeding and/or encouraging the fledgling.

That’s all I got to see. This morning I watched from the recliner again, but there was no bluebird activity. Eventually I peeked into the box again and found that the nest was empty, so I removed the nest and brushed out the loose nest material.

I have noticed what appears to be a tree swallow  hanging around the yard watching what is going on. I suspect it is interested in using the bluebird box. Thankfully there are two boxes available, one in our yard and one across the street, so we should be able to accommodate both.

I wish I could be privy to watching the adult birds feeding their babies while they learn to find their own food. But apparently the neighbor’s yards are better suited for that. I have yet to be able to observe this. I’m going to have to hang a bluebird feeder with some meal worms under the arbor before they nest again.

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Watching for four bluebirds to fledge

I have a birdhouse with four baby birds in it that could fledge any day now, possibly even today. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any of my baby birds fledge. This is the 4th or 5th nest since I put the bluebird boxes up. I hope this time will be different – plan to watch closely. Read earlier posts to learn more about my bluebird houses and nests.

Bird watching so far this summer

I have been enjoying using Nestwatch for some time. Their website offers a lot of information and support for anyone who wants to observe birds that are nesting.

I’ve been trying to monitor the Eastern Bluebird nests this summer and keep running into dead ends. The first nest was abandoned with six eggs. After I had waited long enough to know that they would never hatch, I removed nest and eggs together and put them into a shoebox trimmed to fit, then I covered the front with cellophane. As long as the eggs don’t explode, I have a nice display to share with friends.

Meanwhile a nest appeared in the birdhouse across the road. There were five eggs, at least four hatched (it’s hard to count them crowed in that nest), then one day we found a few feathers on the ground. It was time for them to fledge and there were no sounds coming from inside the box so we opened it. There was one dead bird still in the nest that might have been killed by a crow according to my limited research. I cleaned out the nest as there were also a few beetles in it.

Within a few days a new nest appeared in the first birdhouse in my own yard. When I checked the nest this afternoon there were four eggs in the box. I hope this nest will be successful and I will get to watch the parent bluebirds feeding their baby birds around the yard.

I also believe I have a nest of Brown Thrashers in my yard. I found a nest in some tall red-tips bushes, but the nest is too high for me to peek into it and count eggs. I can barely reach it. I may return with a mirror to try and see inside the nest. When I was close to the bushes both thrashers were clucking up a storm as they scolded me.

I do love watching the birds!

Baby Chickadees

I discovered a pair of chickadees are nesting in a birdhouse that stayed vacant all last year (except that a paper wasp nest was hanging inside). At first when I saw them going in and out a time or two I thought they might be nesting, but yesterday when I tried to see in the hole in front of the box I noticed the wasp nest and assumed they wouldn’t be nesting in the box like that. Fortunately, the wasp nest was empty so I took the nest box down and removed it. Then I discovered that the chickadees had indeed nested inside. There was a nest with five babies in it. They had probably hatched a day or two earlier.

Learning the Hard Way

I think my bluebirds have abandoned their nest. I thought I had done a pretty good job of backing off and not checking the nest too often. But one time I flushed her off the nest before peeking in. I probably should have waited until another time to peek in. I haven’t seen them around since then and don’t think they are sitting on the eggs. In fact, the second bluebird box across the road now has a nest with at least four eggs in it and the birds are sitting on them. I suspect these may be the same birds.

Feeding bluebirds?

I have bluebirds nesting in my bluebird house again this spring. This time there are six eggs in the nest. If you read my earlier posts on bluebirds you will see pictures of several stages in the growing process.

But I have been disappointed every time the babies fledged. I’ve never seen it happen and the birds mysteriously disappear as a new nest is begun. I don’t know for sure if they have successfully fledged or not. I know the mocking birds give them a hard time throughout the nesting process, so maybe once the babies fledge they find a safer place to finish their parenting role.

So here is my dilemna. I want to keep the babies around so I can watch them too. I plan to set out a feeder to entice them to stick around. But bluebirds eat expensive food that the mockingbirds will also want to eat. I need a bluebird feeder that is the right size for the bluebird while the larger mocking birds can’t get to the food.

I hope I have a few readers who can offer some suggestions on how to feed bluebirds without feeding the mocking birds as well.

The excitement and promise of spring

Spring is coming! There are signs all around here in South Carolina.  But I’m cutting off my computer and finishing this later after that thunderclap out of the blue!

This has been a crazy weather day. My DH has watched the weather all day on the computer and we’ve braced for the worst, but all we’ve gotten is a few stray thunderclaps and some rain. I’d say it was a blessing considering the violent weather that has been all over the Southeast today.

Back to where I was before the thunderclap…

I have been enjoying a number of birds at our feeders on our back deck for a long time. The Pine Siskins have come in droves this year, but I had never heard of them until February. They are not as afraid of us as the other birds. We’ve come in and out the back door and a small number of them stay behind when the rest take off. I’ve been talking to them and getting closer and closer to see if they would fly. Today I held one on my finger two times, possibly the same bird, maybe not.

I checked our bluebird house and found a nest with three eggs. We have a wren house with a nest in it as well. Across the street we have another bluebird house with a few pieces of pine straw placed appropriately for a nest, but I haven’t seen the birds. It looked the same two days ago, so there may not be any current activity there.

The bees are all over our holly bushes again, which means we should have plenty of red berries again next winter.

I’m watching my teeny-tiny flowers (most call them weeds) in my lawn. One in particular I’m watching for is the Sundew. I discovered them about 4 years ago when I tried to photograph them. The tiny flower is on a stem that is long in comparison to the plant so it is hard to get both the flower and the ground-hugging leaves both in focus at the same time. It is also hard to catch them with the buds open. Apparently they are only open a few hours in the morning if it is a sunny day. Now that I’m retired I should be able to catch them open and try again for a good picture. I found out when I looked up the flower in my wildflower book that this plant is carnivorous. It’s leaves and stem are sticky and when insects touch it they stick. Then the leaves wrap themselves around them to digest them.

Isn’t spring great!

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green