Hope They will Winter With Us
We have been housing Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) in our garden for a few years now. They arrive in early spring and check out birdhouses around the yard for nest-building and raising their chicks. In years past they would be gone by mid-autumn, but they never left this year. After their chicks fledged this year, they’ve been hanging around and foraging for food in the garden. I thought they would be gone by now, but I still hear their call from high up in the trees. Lately, they’ve been coming around inspecting birdhouses again…but for roosting.
Five of them came around today, checking out three houses in the garden. It is interesting to me that so many birds are very territorial during mating season, then hang out together during fall and winter. I guess it’s a self-preservation thing. Anyway, five of them descended and spread out checking the birdhouses. Once in a while they would stop to pick food off the lawn or take a bath. Yes, aside from food, we provide hot baths for the birds in winter.
I hope they will stay with us this winter. I usually remove some of the birdhouses in winter so the House Sparrows wouldn’t have a chance to roost in them. Aside from putting them back up today, I also added a Bluebird feeder in the hope of making their lives easier if they decide to stay.
The Bluebird population was in decline at one point because they couldn’t compete with the House Sparrows, a non-native. Just recently I read that their population has been increasing as birds lovers have started putting birdhouses up for them and intensely monitoring them. We have successfully raised a few families, but we also lost two would-be baby Bluebirds to the Sparrows.
If the Bluebirds stay, I’ll have to declare war on the sparrows this winter. There will be no half-truces like in past years. ‘No quarter to be taken, aaarrhhh!’ I must remind myself not go out house-hunting sparrows in the middle of a sub-freezing night lest I accidentally roust a bluebird instead.