Our bluebirds

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Okay friends, so I almost didn’t post this since there I was bragging on our turning the corner to spring last week on our spring hike post, and here I woke up yesterday, April 23! to large snowflakes falling!!  And I refused to take a pic of it as it’s too sad to post on the same page with my lovely bluebirds.

I’ve been sleeping in the living room on the futon since the hubby is sick, and between coughing and snoring, and the sleep moaning that comes with colds, I knew I needed to go elsewhere to get any shut eye.

I’m surrounded by windows in the living room so there was no mistaking those flakes for what they were once my blurry eyes cleared!

Despite the cold spell, I still feel compelled to post our babes in blue we were privileged to observe from their nesting stage to their fledging stage in our south of the border days.

And a journal entry from those days says it better than my feeble, aging brain trying to recall it all myself, years later.

And just to insert this before we start, my pics are from the year 2008, but my journal entries are from 2009.  I didn’t get into the habit of drawing and recording in my own nature journal (yes! you must do this along with the kiddos to make it work well) such fantastic events until after this extra special experience of watching a cycle of life come to fruition for our dear sweet neighbours, the bluebirds.

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Nature Journal, April 21, 2009:

What an exciting day we’ve had watching the bluebirds build their nest in our box right on the deck.  They’re on about day three or four of building.  We put them off a bit by being out there a good bit this afternoon so they may be a bit behind in finishing.  Should be four to six days on average to complete the nest.

I can’t keep my eyes off them!  They are  helping each other so much.  The  male seems to communicate not only through his voice but with his wings raised to the female.  He always goes and inspects her work when she comes out, and cleans up a bit after her either on the outside or inside of their house.

He was actively chasing away both the red-bellied woodpecker (who is generally very timid) and the downy woodpeckers from the suet that is near the nest.  He doesn’t dare chase the mockingbird away though.

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April 26, 2009:

Looks like the bluebirds have finished building their nest.  The female must have laid an egg (or possibly on her second egg today) and is sitting on it off and on.  The male brings her food and she sticks her wee head out to receive it.  Very sweet watching this relationship.

Son found a Robin’s nest in the gum tree beside the deck.  The female was sitting on her nest.  Was so neat to see her that close-up!  How wonderful to find all this life all around us!

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Back to the bluebirds….

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May 13, 2009:

Our bluebird babies have arrived!  Violet counted four mouths in the box.  So exciting!  I just peeped in and they all opened wide to be fed.  I wondered this morning, when I saw both mother and father entering the nest separate times, whether the eggs had hatched.  We have another 14-17 days before they leave the nest as fledglings.  What a beautiful thing to watch this life before our eyes!

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If you’re interested in watching your own bluebirds from nest building until fledging, and want some full answers to your questions on how to do it, click here for a great link with some frequently asked questions.

We did some quick research after putting this nesting box on our deck the second summer in Tennessee, just awaiting any kind of bird to nest in it, not expecting the beautiful Eastern Bluebirds to choose it.  Too bad you can’t see clear enough that the entrance way to the nest has a great sign hanging there with the greeting, “Welcome y’all!” It’s not typically the kind of nest box it would use (a more simplistic version on a post or fence, with a predator guard is best) but wow, were we ever excited to watch this show from the very day they discovered our box, to the day they fledged.

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And what’s neat is, if you do your research and count just right from days of building, to egg laying days, to incubation, you’ll find yourself oohing and ahhing with delight on the very day you guessed they’d fledge.  This happened in our household with four very eager, earnest young nature lovers crammed together on the kitchen counter with feet in the sink, goggling out the window at one, now two, look at that, there’s three now!  And now four! All coming out together to fledge! What a gift to witness these beautiful little ones emerging, struggling, but so hopeful that their wings will work, and then, away they went.  Not far of course, but enough to give them confidence to keep at it.  I’m sorry to say my camera wasn’t cooperating quite so well on this day so the best I’ve got are blurry fledglings.

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Here’s a peek at the inside of the nest box after they’d fledged.  They used a lot of straw from the nearby farmer’s field.  And we discovered in our observations, they are pretty meticulous at removing fecal sacs on a regular basis, papa usually emerging from the nest with the white sacs in his mouth, and dropping them far from the house so as not to draw predators to them with the smell.

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If you can get your hands on some mealworms, leave these out for the bluebirds to help aid them in feeding their young.  Both male and female feed the babies in a joint effort.  It is a constant effort on both their parts, catching insects for their young.

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Wikihow site has a 12 step instruction sheet to making a bluebird box if anyone is interested in attempting it this year.  I’d suggest you be quick as it’s just that time (though the weather up here would beg to differ.)  It’s well worth the effort.  You’ll find yourself spending countless hours at your window, or sneaking up for a peek into the nest (make sure this is all done before day 12 of their lives though) for some observations.

Whether or not you plan on building a birdbox, make sure you spend spring with eyes wide open for those bird nests in the trees, in the bushes, on the ground, and in the boxes.  Clean out your hairbrush and leave the hair on the deck to aid them with building materials.  Go on nature walks often.  Listen for the different calls and songs of the birds.  Take time to slow and listen and learn.  And always remember, as Charlotte Mason quoted once, “An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.”  This is one.

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