Good Year For Bluebirds

Starting Their Second Brood

I think the Bluebirds are getting more comfortable with our garden now.  They no longer leave us during winter.  We provide roosting boxes, food and water in heated birdbaths when nothing much is around in winter and we help with guarding their nesting box during their breeding season.  Since they have become our resident birds, they have started their nesting early.  Last year they had two broods and this year they have already started a second brood while still feeding their chicks from the first brood.

They started the first brood in April. Once the female lays eggs, we start to monitor the nest box weekly to make sure they are fine.  Four out of five eggs hatched with the 1st brood.

May 7th – not much feathering and eyes still closed
May 14th – They are much bigger and have feathers. This was our last photo because we don’t want them to fledge too early

We stopped checking their nest box when the chicks have full feathers.  If they fledge too early, out of concern for their own safety, they could become other birds food.  So we don’t want to stress them with visits.

May 30th – The female tends to one of the chicks in between building a new nest
A couple taking a break from feeding the chicks and building a new nest
June 4th – The first egg in a new nest-second brood
Two of the babies from the first brood perching on top of new nest box
Male keeps his eyes on his chicks and the new nest too

The second nest is right by our vegetable garden and the green pole is only a couple of feet from the front of the nest box.  Hopefully there will be another three or more chicks from the second brood.

Bluebird House Hunting

Looking For the Perfect Place

It’s that time of year again…a time to look for a perfect place to raise a new generation.  The birds that usually hang out together during winter start chasing one another, claiming their territory.  A few of them checking out the nest boxes we put up in the garden.  I cleaned them in mid-fall and put them back up for the birds to roost in winter, and I check them again around this time of year to see if any of them need to be cleaned again.  Some birds do make a mess in there when they use them as a roosting place.

The Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis), which never left us this winter, have been coming everyday to check the nest boxes.  They seem to be very serious about two of the boxes.  One box had a pair of Bluebirds nested in it last year, and a pair of Tree Swallows have nested in the other one.  I hope they make up their mind soon, especially if they want to take the one that the Tree Swallows used to nest in.

Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are known to come back to the specific nesting place they used in the previous year.  We had two generations, three pairs of them nested in our garden last year.  And, yes, the older pair came back to the exact nest box they had used the year before.  They are pretty vicious in defending their nest so I hope the Bluebirds will build their nest before the Swallows come back.

We love both of them so we can’t really take sides.  With House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) and European Starrings (Sturnus vulgaris), we pretty much chase them away or clean them out if they have nested in one of the boxes.  I know it sounds mean spirited but they are pests and they kill other birds or break their eggs to get their nesting place.  They’re not indigenous to this area.

I would also like to increase our state bird population.  The Bluebird is the official New York state bird.  I acquired this knowledge a few years ago when I looked up Bluebird so I’m glad that we’ve hosted our state bird three years in a row…..and hope to continue the trend this year.

A male Bluebird checking one of his two favorites.
A male Bluebird checking one of his two favorites.
A female Downey Woodpecker checking a Bluebird feeder during the last snow storm.  The Downey and Carolina Wrens have learned how to feed in there.
A female Downey Woodpecker checking a Bluebird feeder during the last snow storm. The Downey and Carolina Wrens have learned how to feed in there.