Sunday, 9 August 2020

Bluebird Update

The babies have flown! 

Friday morning I watched as the single bluebird mother's brood successfully fledged. All four of them! Within minutes of each other, they took the leap from their nest box and flew amazingly well to the nearest leafy tree. My photos of the novice flyers are blurry because they were so fast. Of course I cheered from my kitchen window as each youngster graduated into the big wide world. Full credit to that hard-working and capable little mother. She cleverly found plenty of food to raise four healthy youngsters. Oh, and for bonus points, she kept that nest scrupulously clean!

The devoted mom makes a final food deliver to the box.

"Come on kids! It's now time to leave home!"

A youngster works up courage for it's first flight.

Then drops down and is airborne.

Seconds later, a nestling decides to follow it's sibling.

And flies capably into a nearby tree.

And then another and another! All four babies have safely fledged!

As it turns out, it's been a very good year for bluebirds on my patch. I have more than a dozen nesting boxes strewn along a monitored trail. Most years these boxes are used exclusively by Tree Swallows. But this year, I've got two boxes that were successfully used by Eastern Bluebirds. The other box is located a couple of fields away and has the benefit of both parents. Most afternoons I see the male using one of my bird baths. His colouring is amazing!

Another female Eastern Bluebird attends a box further afield.

This handsome male drops in for a bath most afternoons.

Peaches are in season. Yum! Mine are socially distancing.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

A Single Mom

So far, it's been a funny old year. A serious and stubborn pandemic. Outrageous political figures and a severe drought with prolonged hot weather in my area. 

Rain has fallen in patches around mine but it seems there is a large and invisible umbrella over my land. On the up side, I have not had to mow my lawn for ages and for once, garden weeds have the disadvantage!

I've been preoccupied with concern for my cute little single mom neighbour. If you know me at all, you're likely thinking, "The neighbour is a bird, isn't she!?" You'd be right!

Towards the end of June or the first of July, something had taken the eggs from a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. Instead of fleeing the area, the couple decided to re-nest in a box that stands only a few yards from the failed one. Within a week, the female built a nest and laid another clutch of eggs. But I didn't see the male come to deliver food items to her as she brooded. Then it twigged -- He is gone!

Was he hit by a car? Taken by a hawk? Killed while defending the nest? Or did he just go out to buy a pack of cigarettes and kept on going? I'll never know.

Still, the female bluebird sticks with her plan and carries on. Her nearby thrush cousins, the robins, help drive off nest raiding red squirrels and sound the alarm for other approaching dangers. So she does have a bit of security from them. I happened to look out the window one day to see a curious Downy Woodpecker peer into her nest box. She had to fly out and shew it away herself. That and delivering food to her while she incubated would have been the male's job.

In the first week of his disappearance, it was sad to see her fly up to a hydro wire and scan in all directions looking for him. Gradually, she quit looking and just got on with her job. She brooded her clutch until they hatched and now (if she's lucky) will spend more than two weeks bringing her nestlings food. The task would have been halved had her helpmate not disappeared.

I'm not going to sneak a peak into the box just to admire and count her babies. With all of her concerns, she certainly does not need to worry about a nosy human. I can only wish her the best and cheer her on from my kitchen window.

This female Eastern Bluebird is attempting to raise a family on her own.

Before leaving the box, she checks to make sure the coast is clear.

Her very busy parenting duties have loosened a tail feather.

Removing a fecal sack tells me that her eggs have hatched.

These bunnies have nipped every bud from my cornflower plants. (sigh)

Nothing cheers up a kitchen table like a freshly cut bouquet.