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.

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

Time for babies to leave the nest

Bluebird house and surroundingsI have been watching the bluebird box a lot the past three days expecting to see the babies leave the nest. I am convinced that the mama and papa bluebirds are trying to coax the babies out this evening. They have flown to the box and to the lowest board on our arbor that sits about ten feet in front of the birdhouse. Then they fly to the trees as well. There is no way short of opening the box to know how many are still in the box, so I’m waiting as patiently as I know how.  I also watched one bird take a bath in the birdbath.

I’m having to watch through two panes of window glass plus a screen, so I can’t be sure if I’m seeing a parent or a fledgling. On top of that I had eye surgery four days ago. My eyes aren’t working together well right now as my left eye is recovering to a new level of seeing-though it isn’t there yet. So dissappointing!

I went outside to get a picture of the birdhouse with the arbor and birdhouse all in the picture. Unfortunately the birds fly away when I go outside so no birds this time. While I was outside, I witnessed the bluebirds take on a much larger bird – possibly a hawk. They seem to have successfully driven it off.

Baby birds apparently don’t just take a notion to jump out of the nest when they are big enough to fly. The mama and papa Bluebirds are being so persistant. They will fly to the box at the same time, and while one goes inside the other hangs on the front opening or sits on top of the box or the post. This keeps happening over and over. I wish I had a video cam inside the box so I could see what is happening. I wonder if the bird that goes inside is pushing on the babies or anything.

The sun is setting and still the babies haven’t fledged. I wonder if the parents will continue trying once the sun goes down or will wait until morning. According to the information I have on Bluebirds, they should have fledged either Saturday, Sunday, or today (Monday). A mockingbird appeared on the scene a few minutes ago and I scared it away, along with Mama and Papa Bluebird.

Pictures and text copyright © 2008 by Janice Green