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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Bluebird chronicals, a pictorial of my backyard babies

I bought a cedar birdhouse at Lowe's over last winter thinking that I might be able to entice a couple of barn swallows to nest in the backyard that spring. That said I screwed it onto the birch tree out back about 6' up and sat back to watch the show.

The house was a great source of entertainment as multiple pairs of swallows swooped and dove and scoped out the surroundings - until one day when I noticed the bird on top of the box didn't look right. It was a male bluebird, bright as can be and showing off the new diggs to his mate. She wasn't impressed and they both flew off. The next day I went to toss a few pine needles in to try to get them to start building, and found a fully developed nest (including hair from my dog!).

It didn't take long and the nest was filled with eggs - and I started to keep track of everything on NestWatch (a very easy site to sign up and track progress on!). Below you will find photographs of the adventure and I promise that at no time were any of the birds in danger! Mr & Mrs B would actually follow me around the yard when I was out working and sing to me when I was sitting on the back porch.


June 4th, 2009 - we started with 5 bright blue eggs





June 17th, 3 naked and tiny babies emerged


June 21st, I could only find four babies


June 24th - look at the pin feathers!


July 1st, almost ready to fly


WOW! It's a big world out there!





Mr B wing waving


Mr & Mrs B, the proud parents


Mr B in flight


One of the four fledgelings


#2


#3


and #4 - they all came back to visit about a week after leaving the nest.

About three weeks after the last sighting, mom, dad and the four babies came back to sit on the powerline that leads out front of my house. My son and I sat almost underneath them in the window and watched as the parents fed them bugs and taught them how to hunt for almost an hour. We never saw any of them again. Talk about empty nest syndrome!

I truly enjoyed the experience and hope to do so again this summer, right after I move the nest box from the tree to a post on the edge of the field. Just have to get past all this snow first.



Information from my NestWatch data:

Nest attempt 1:  2009 May 29 to Jul 06


                         Eastern Bluebird

                         10 visits

Summary of this nest attempt:

                          Outcome: success

                          Egg laying start date: Jun 04

                          Hatch date: Jun 17

                          Fledging start date: Jul 06

                          Total visits to nest attempt: 10

                          Clutch Size: 5

                          Total Young: 4

                          Unhatched eggs: 1

                          Fledged Young: 4

Comments:    I'm amazed that this nest succeeded. The box was put up in early April, brand new, and the Bluebirds took to it like it had been there for years. We had a rainy June, 22 of 30 days we had rain and cool weather. I'm very pleased with how things worked out! I also have photographs if needed of the 'clutch watch'. Includes eggs and hatchlings up to fledglings (day 14) - last with head poking head from box at day 18. They left the nest on day 19 (after hatching) without us at home. I've removed the nest (it was soggy and flat!) and replaced with some pine needles hoping they will have a second brood.

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