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.

10 comments:

  1. Florence I think your wonderful blog is my favorite window outside... I sure hope your single mom neighbor & her babies are doing ok, and as always, I love your pics--I love that last one!

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    1. As always, I appreciate your comments, Doug. Bluebirds are such sweet little birds that one can't help be enchanted by them. I do like something colourful on my kitchen table. Fresh cut flowers in Spring, Summer and Fall. Fruit in the winter.

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  2. I hope the parenting goes well, it must be so hard to stand at a distance and not go to assist with the feeding. Love the story, hope the Dad is off somewhere else, and still able to father another brood.

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    1. I really hope the little bluebird mom succeeds as well, Jean. But I don't hold much hope that the male is still alive. I've read that Eastern Bluebirds are quite faithful to their pair bond and suspect he is no more. If the mom manages to raise her brood and they all return to my garden next year, I'll be thrilled!

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  3. How sad she lost her mate. What a challenge it will be for her to raise them alone. I'd be tempted to supply her with some mealworms to help out. You could be the god mother or favorite aunt.

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    1. That idea had walked across my mind, Patti. I think there would be strong competition for the mealworms from the many other bird species here. Tomorrow I'll ring some pet stores in Ottawa to see if they sell mealworms. Meanwhile, she seems to be catching lots of insects and removing lots of fecal material. Good signs! I've read that single bluebirds sometimes do raise broods on their own if something happens to their mates.

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  4. Aw, it's sad, isn't it? I've been a single mom!
    It seems to have been a good year for nesting. Several species here are on brood #3!

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    1. Can't even imagine the challenge of bringing up kids solo, Jennifer. You deserve a special kind of medal! Glad your eye surgery is over and that things are again coming into focus. So much beauty and drama to eyeball!

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  5. Well, that is a sad turn of events but it sounds like the lone mother is coping so far. I'd be tempted to help out.
    Meanwhile, everything blooming which is wonderful. Gorgeous bouquet!

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    1. That wee bird had more on the ball than I had assumed. She raised four healthy babies all by herself.

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