Firecracker babies

As the pressure of population increasingly regiments us and crowds us closer together, an association with the wild, winged freedom of the birds will fill an ever growing need in our lives.
– Edwin Way Teale, introduction to Songbirds in Your Garden, 1953

 

IMG_7418 copyWe took a short trip to Prosper, TX,  for the Fourth of July weekend.  I expected the eggs to hatch around 07 July.  But when I checked the box after arriving home on the Fourth, I found two newly hatched chicks and one  little blue egg.   I checked a few minutes later and the remaining chick had hatched and Mama had eaten the eggshell.  Female bluebirds eat the eggshells to replenish depleted calcium levels in their bodies.

Recently a raccoon has been raiding the yard at night, tearing up bird feeders and opening the birdseed storage barrel.  Not one to underestimate the persistence and ingenuity of a raccoon, I worried that when the eggs hatched the chicks would be a midnight snack for this 27387253134_f238d910cf_omarauder.  A little peanut butter in a live trap and Rocky was soon in raccoon jail.  He was not a happy camper, tried to bite and urinate on his jailer.  Terms of his release were that he move to a neighborhood with no human neighbors.  Up until his release, Rocky claimed he was ‘entrapped’.  Some FeBreze was required post release. The things I do for these bluebirds!

It’s hot now and heat is a killer of bluebird eggs and babies.  I have the box located so that by early afternoon it is in the shade of a live oak tree.  The Sparrow Spooker is attached and we are ready to rear these babies.  Most of the time our babies fledge on the 17th day.  That means these should hop out into the big wide world on 21 July.  Hopefully this will happen with no drama.

Total chicks fledged from this site is 67.

Third Brood 2016

  • First sign of nest building                                                15 June
  • Three eggs                                                                             21 June
  • Three eggs hatch                                                                 04 July
Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Incubation is a bust

Our bluebird eggs normally hatch in thirteen days, but not this time.  My expected hatch date on this clutch was 23 July. On 24 July one egg hatched.  I left the others in for three days and Mama continued to attempt to incubate.  Finally I removed the eggs and cracked them.  None were fertilized.  I had a conference with Daddy about his poor job performance and he promised to do better.

Photo is Mama on the mealworm feeder.

Temps are hot, supposed to be 101 degrees today.  The box gets shade all afternoon and is vented, but it still must be like a sauna inside.  The lone chick is getting all the bugs it can eat and is growing like a weed.  I may wet it down with the garden hose this afternoon.  This chick should fledge about 10 August.  It is so well nourished, it could fledge sooner.  I’ve never had a brood of just one chick before.  Hoping all goes well and our lone little one gets out on time or a day or two early.

Follow me on flickr on Instagram @lindelledillon for nature pics.

Total chicks fledged from this box is 101.

__________________________________

Edit.  The lone chick did fledge a day early on 09 August.  We missed it.  I suspect we are done for this year, but one never knows.

 

Second brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                                    03 July
  • Nest completed                                                                      05 July
  • First egg                                                                                   06 July
  • Second egg                                                                              07 July
  • Third egg                                                                                 08 July
  • Fourth egg                                                                               09 July
  • Incubation begins                                                                  10 July
  • One egg hatches                                                                     24 July
  • Chick fledges                                                                           09 August

 

 

 

Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brood Two Incubation

IMG_0512Mama III is now incubating her second clutch of four little blue eggs.  She began incubation on 10 July.  Most of our clutches hatch on the thirteenth day, so hatch date should be 23 July.  Not a lot goes on during incubation, so I probably won’t post until we have baby bluebirds.  I should mention that we also have a female cardinal incubating in a Japanese maple right outside our bedroom windows.

Heat is a problem with late summer broods. The optimal range for bluebird egg development is 96.8 °F to 104.9 °F.  If egg temperatures are lower, embryonic development slows. Higher temperatures can be lethal for the embryo. Heat can also dehydrate and kill chicks in the box.

One of the easiest methods to fight heat is the ability to easily move the box so that it is inyardbirds 020 afternoon shade.  I have my box mounted to electrical conduit with a couple of hangers that are sold with the conduit.  I drive a section of steel re-bar (slightly smaller than the conduit) into the ground and slide the conduit with the box mounted over it like a sheath. I’ve moved boxes with eggs and even chicks inside to keep them in the shade.

The Texas Bluebird Society has instructions for a couple of different home-made shades on their website.  Texas Bluebird Society  These shades can substantially lower temps inside boxes. As bluebird hosts it is incumbent on us to provide our best efforts for the health and safety of our bluebirds. I know that I am more than rewarded for my efforts with the enjoyment I get from the birds.

For nature pics and more, follow me on Instagram @lindelledillon

Total bluebirds fledged from this site is 100!

Second brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                                    03 July
  • Nest completed                                                                      05 July
  • First egg                                                                                   06 July
  • Second egg                                                                              07 July
  • Third egg                                                                                 08 July
  • Fourth egg                                                                               09 July
  • Incubation begins                                                                  10 July
Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged | Leave a comment

Round two

bluebirds 018Just ten days after our milestone brood fledged Mama III began building another nest.  I had removed the old nest and hosed out the box in preparation for another nesting.  Also moved the box a bit to keep it in afternoon shade a little longer.  This female builds her nests quickly.  She started carrying in grass on 03 July and had completed the nest in only a couple of days.

Daddy III is very protective of Mama.  When she is nest building he clears the back yard of birds.  Including a very aggressive mockingbird.  Daddy harasses him to the point the mocker just gives up.  When Mama is inside the box arranging her nest, he stands guard on top of the box.  Just three days after nest building began, Mama deposited her first little powder blue egg.  Late summer broods suffer from heat, and so do the adults.  I’d just as soon this is not a large brood.

bluebirds 007

The parents have yet to bring any of our last fledglings to the yard.  I expect them to follow Daddy into the yard any day. The young normally follow the male around after the female begins her second brood.  They are still learning survival techniques from the male.  I’m always apprehensive about their survival until I see them.  Their fledging was a little unorganized with the fledglings more spread out than I like.

As a sidebar– we also have a pair of cardinals building a nest in a Japanese Maple right outside our bedroom window.  Will be fun to watch this progress.

For nature pics and more, follow me on Instagram @lindelledillon

Total bluebirds fledged from this site is 100!

Second brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                                    03 July
  • Nest completed                                                                      05 July
  • First egg                                                                                   06 July
  • Second egg                                                                              07 July
  • Third egg                                                                                 08 July
  • Fourth egg                                                                               09 July
  • Incubation begins                                                                  10 July
Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Milestone on the red dirt hill

Today we hit a milestone I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  All five of the babies fledged, marking 100 bluebirds our backyard box has produced!  I anticipated they would fledge today.  Seventeen days after they hatched.  They peered out of the box all day and at mid-afternoon the first one jumped.  It wasn’t long until the box was empty.

They are a little scattered right now, but Mama and Daddy are keeping up with them.  Soon they will have them huddled together and they will remain close for several days.  At that point the parents normally start bringing them to the back yard for a mealworm breakfast.  It sure is fun watching the little birds take off on untested wings, but I have to admit I feel a bit of empty nest syndrome.  But, my part is done.  I provide them a nestbox and make the parents and babies as safe and comfortable as I can.  Once they fledge it’s up to Mama and Daddy.  I’ll try to get some photos and report back when they visit the yard.

For nature pics and more, follow me on Instagram @lindelledillon

Total bluebirds fledged from this site is 100!

First brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                             15 May
  • Nest completed                                                               16 May
  • First egg laid                                                                    17 May
  • Second egg laid                                                                18 May
  • Third egg laid                                                                   19 May
  • Fourth egg laid                                                                 21 May
  • Fifth egg laid                                                                     22 May
  • Incubation began                                                             23 May
  • All eggs hatch                                                                    05 June
  • All babies fledge                                                               22 June

 

 

 

 

Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

We have babies!

35107276354_111c198140_oWell, our little blue eggs hatched right on time!  Thirteen days and they emerged on 05 June.  The chicks have an egg tooth and cut the eggshells completely in half.  One can be seen in the photo.  Female bluebirds eat their eggshells to replenish the calcium depleted by the egg laying.

The parents will be busy until this brood fledges and even after that.  Most of our broods have fledged on the seventeenth day after hatching.  So that  translates to a 22 June fledging.  It’s going to be a big day when we put the 100th bluebird on the hill.  Right now the parents are busy catching tiny bugs  that these little blind, featherless chicks can swallow.  They instinctively match the size of the bugs fed to the chicks’ growth.  When they get a bit bigger I’ll get some live mealworms and help the parents a bit with the chore of feeding five little birds that are always hungry.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of D Day, I have to point out that bluebirds were 33951476215_fda65a950f_omentioned in one of the most famous World War II era pop classics, The White Cliffs of Dover by Walter Kent.

…”There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait and see
There’ll be love and laughter and peace ever after
Tomorrow when the world is free.”

There is a bit of a problem with the lyrics, though.  Bluebirds are not found in Europe.  But those songs produced in WWII gave people hope in the darkest of times, so we’ll forgive Mr. Kent for his inaccuracy.  Literature, songs and folklore are filled with tales of this adorable little songbird.

For nature pics and more, follow me on Instagram @lindelledillon

Total bluebirds fledged from this site is 95.

First brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                             15 May
  • Nest completed                                                               16 May
  • First egg laid                                                                    17 May
  • Second egg laid                                                                18 May
  • Third egg laid                                                                   19 May
  • Fourth egg laid                                                                 21 May
  • Fifth egg laid                                                                     22 May
  • Incubation began                                                             23 May
  • All eggs hatch                                                                    05 June
Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Incubation Begins

40084684325_4eacb7d4b3_oWith five little blue eggs in the box Mama IV began incubating them on May 23.  It takes bluebird eggs 12-14 days to hatch.  Based on a 13-day hatch this means we should have baby bluebirds on 05 June.  Incubation is normally a somewhat boring phase in hosting bluebirds and I hope it is exactly that.  We don’t need any drama with the nest or adults.

Songbirds are capable of living more than a decade, but in the wild they seldom do.  Bluebirds live in a dangerous world. Some potential causes of mortality are raptors, House Sparrows, house cats, hailstorms, collisions with cars and window strikes.

Sometimes friends and neighbors ask for advice on attracting bluebirds.  Unless you have a fairly open site, it won’t be a preferred one for bluebirds.  First, make sure you put up a nestbox designed specifically for bluebirds.  It’s always best to place it near a bluebirds 024place you see birds perched.  Avoid placing it near brushy areas or it’s likely to attract wrens.  If it is an old box, make sure any old nests are removed and the box is clean.  If it’s a new box, take a bar of soap and

Photo: Daddy III on the mealworm feeder. 

rub the ceiling or you’re likely to attract paper wasps before you do bluebirds.  Leave the box up even in winter. If you haven’t attracted birds in a couple of seasons, move the box.  If you attract some other native cavity nesting species, enjoy them and put up a second box.

For nature pics and more, follow me on Instagram @lindelledillon

Total bluebirds fledged from this site is 95.

First brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                             15 May
  • Nest completed                                                               16 May
  • First egg laid                                                                    17 May
  • Second egg laid                                                                18 May
  • Third egg laid                                                                   19 May
  • Fourth egg laid                                                                 21 May
  • Fifth egg laid                                                                     22 May
  • Incubation began                                                             23 May

 

Posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

First nesting 2019

bluebirds 066We got a late start this year after Mama III’s death last summer.  Bluebirds in Oklahoma usually begin nesting in March, but Daddy III had no mate until recently.  He really had to work on this young female to convince her to use his nestbox.  But once she got the urge, she was busy.  Constructed a nest in only two days and laid her first egg on the third day!

Hopefully she will lay another little blue egg this stormy morning. A nice safe nestbox is 34714914165_b652a11def_oPhoto: Daddy perched on the Sparrow Spooker.

a good place to be on a Saturday  filled with thunderstorms, wind and hail.  Since Mama is a young, healthy bird I would not be surprised if she lays a large clutch.  Once all her eggs are laid, she will begin incubation.  The eggs hatch in 12-14 days.

House Sparrows are a constant threat to bluebirds, their young and their eggs.  I attached the Sparrow Spooker yesterday after Mama laid her first egg.  I saw a pair of HOSP’s yesterday– the first ones I’ve seen in months. I trap and euthanize about 60 annually.  If you are going to lure bluebirds into suburban settings, I feel it incumbent to provide for their security.  If people can’t deal with HOSP’s, then they shouldn’t put up a box because it will eventually be a death trap.  One of the unpleasant but necessary aspects of hosting bluebirds.

For nature pics and more, follow me on Instagram @lindelledillon

Total bluebirds fledged from this site is 95.

First brood 2019

  • First sign of nest building                                             15 May
  • Nest completed                                                               16 May
  • First egg laid                                                                    17 May
  • Second egg laid                                                                18 May
  • Third egg laid                                                                   19 May
  • Fourth egg laid                                                                 21 May

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment