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!

Last peek before fledgling stage

Eleven days and still growing

Eleven days and still growing

This picture was taken on July 1 when the babies were eleven days old. You can see the wing and tail feathers getting longer and very blue. They have wide beaks when they are young to make it easier for the parents to feed them.

(OOOPS! I should have re-read my bluebird book before taking this last peek. I wasn’t supposed to peek after the 13th day. I hope I haven’t messed up here. Fortunately the birds didn’t move around at all when I opened the box. Maybe I didn’t disturb them enough to cause any harm. I re-read the book after writing this post.)

Last peek before fledging

I peeked into the bluebird box one last time today to see if the babies were doing OK. They look healthy. Their eyes were open and they didn’t move. Their feathers are filling out nicely and I could see some bright blue feathers in their wingtips and tails. They are now 16 days old. It would be risky to peek in at them after today because doing so might cause them to fledge before they are ready to survive. I hope to see these babies grow up and fly around for a long time.

Pictures and text copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Mockingbirds and bluebirds defending their territories

In two previous years we have had mockingbirds to nest in our grape arbor. They can be very territorial and agressive and would dive-bomb us if we got too close to their nest. I had already decided that if they nested in the arbor again I would remove the nest because we want to be able to enjoy our arbor and tend to the flowers and plants that are growing on it.

Now that the bluebirds have begun nesting in the bluebird house which is about 15-20 feet from the arbor, I frequently see the mocking birds trying to chase the bluebirds away. The bluebirds do a pretty good job of holding their own, however.

My husband noticed that when the bluebirds are on the bird feeders the other birds pretty well leave them alone and wait for them to leave before coming for food themselves. This is true even of the more aggressive cardinals who often chase the other birds away from the feeder. So our bluebirds aren’t wimps, even if they are small.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green