One of my resolutions for the year was to further establish habitat for the birds in our yard. We installed two bluebird boxes, which I picked up from my local State Employees Credit Union. The box on the blackberry trellis was quickly found by a pair of Eastern Bluebirds, and after a brief kerfuffle with a Brown-headed Nuthatch, they soon made the box home and laid five perfect, light blue eggs. The second box appears to be inhabited by House Wrens, and the box is filled up past the hole with twigs, so I have not been able to monitor it like I have the Bluebirds.
|Bluebird box on the blackberry trellis|
|April 20 there were four eggs. They next day there was one more!|
|May 7, less than two days old. That was about a 16 day incubation period.|
|Inside the nest box, the nest cup makes monitoring easy.|
|The beautiful mama bird|
|Daddy Bluebird on 5/9/17|
We have two cats who love to sneak outside, one of which has newly discovered bird hunting skills. We are being extra vigilant to not let them out so that once the fledglings leave their nest (they fledge 16 - 21 days after hatching), they have plenty of time for their daddy bird to teach them to survive, which is 8 - 10 days beyond fledgling.
5/7/17: All are hungry and waiting for parents to feed them.
5/8/17: Some have already eaten breakfast and are rolling around sleepily. Some are still beak-up.
5/9/17: As of the fourth morning, there are only three babies sticking up their beaks to be fed and
there is a definite smell of decay, so I think maybe two of the birds have died from reasons I don't know. I've read that pesticides are a common culprit. We haven't been using any in the yard or garden, but they might have gotten them elsewhere in the neighborhood. I noticed yesterday morning that two were much more sluggish than the others, so I'm guessing they were already not doing well. I hope the remaining three are strong and survive. There are no signs of attack by other birds and no signs of insects in the box. Both parents have been sighted alive this morning. I'm waiting to see if the mother removes any babies that may have died.
5/10/17: Mama bird is still tending to her nest, but a super quick check (no picture) showed there are only two baby birds left in the nest, and only one of them is living. I don't know if the mama removed the dead chicks or something else got the other two of the three living ones. If it were another bird trying to take over the box, there wouldn't be any birds left. If this is a neighborhood pesticide problem, there probably isn't much hope for this last living chick. I'm reading that I may need to supply live mealworms. If they build a new nest and lay more eggs, I'll look into it.
5/11/17: The mama was in the box this morning, but the last of the babies has died. I didn't see the daddy bird at the feeder yesterday, but I did see one of the blue birds chasing off a blue jay some time in the afternoon. Though not as common of a predator, blue jays may attack baby bluebirds who don't yet have feathers. There was just a blue flutter of wings, so I couldn't tell which parent it was. I need to find out if I should clean out the box or leave the nest in there.