Whitesburg KY

Bluebird family’s changes are noticeable

The bluebird fledglings had not taken to wing from their homemade, pole-mounted abode located at the corner of our front yard and Charlie Brown Road before the second week of June over the last five years. But this year they (three of them) emerged from their “box” on May 18 or 19 and, as usual, immediately took to the air as though they had just completed several months of flight school.

I like to think, even though I have no way of actually knowing for sure, that the same two parents have been using our bluebird “house” (shack might better denote it because it looks like a miniature outhouse from days gone by).

The male bird’s (Dad’s) plumage is not quite as bright and showy as that of most bluebird men and it’s generally difficult to tell Mom from Dad at a distance of more than 50 feet or so. Not so with their offspring, the males of which are bluer than the bluest sky and the females, noticeably, more pastel.

Before this couple found the house and took up residence on Charlie Brown Road, we had been accustomed to pairs of bluebirds nesting in a big, hollow fencepost beside the house where they usually raised two broods of three to six that hatched, respectively, in late spring and early autumn. By mid October the entire family had pulled up roots and taken off to wherever bluebirds like to spend their winters.

However, I have been keeping a close enough eye on the current residents to know that they decided to tough out the winters right here on Charlie Brown over the last few years. A few of the kids even stayed around last winter. I counted five in each hatch last year and at least four of them, all females, wintered here with Mom and Dad. I have no idea if their behavior is related to global warming, but I do know for sure that until recently (the current decade) I had never noticed bluebirds hanging around all winter in my neck of the woods.

I have no idea where the young girls went in mid-February, but when Mom and Dad began springcleaning the nesting box, their off- spring vacated the premises. I like to think they went off in search of lovers of their own and they were so pretty, I doubt they had any trouble finding them.

Points East

This spring’s hatch of three (two extra vivid males and one lovely pastel female) is the smallest brood I’ve seen them produce since I began paying fairly close attention to their livelihood.

Over the last week or so I’ve watched the three juvvies perch, shoulder-to-shoulder, on our telephone line to observe their parents snatching insects off flowers and even out of thin air. Then Mom and Dad sit on the wire and watch the kids attempt the same feats. Wanna talk about home schooling, these bluebirds are absolute experts.

All five birds, parents and kids alike, seem to be involved in readying the nesting box for another round. I am assuming that this is a continuation of bluebird home schooling because last year the first brood was at least as involved with hunting/gathering/feeding their younger siblings in the second hatch as were the parents. In fact, Mom and Dad appeared to do more watching than actually rearing the second brood.

I have no idea how or why young bluebirds emerge from the nesting box able to fly so readily and easily as compared to robins, wrens, swallows and other young birds that seem to flounder around for a few days before they get it down pat. All I know for sure is that for several weeks throughout spring we will have two bluebirds flying about and then one morning we will have a small flock because the babies are acting all grown up as though it happened overnight.

In any event I can think of any number of ways to while away my time that would be far more boring than sitting on the front porch observing bird behavior. Now that the bluebirds have taken wing, I am anxious to see how well the young tree swallows noisily scurrying about inside Loretta’s nesting box hanging from our front porch eave fare.

Their house is shaped like a volleyball-size giant male cardinal with a hole in his chest that we sort of hoped a pair of wrens might occupy. The swallows are a wonderful surprise. Stay tuned.

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