The coldest month of winter is almost over and has not proven to be very cold this year. That’s good for the birds and bugs. Ironic that almost everyone says they would like song birds in their yard, but if you ask them if they would like bugs in their yard they freak out. Folks, all baby birds need bugs to grow to adulthood. Native plants and trees in your yard will attract birds, butterflies and moths and keep nature’s cycle alive. A Chinese Pistache will support not a single native insect. It’s a simple concept, but it doesn’t seem to be on a lot of folks’ radar screen when you look at their landscaping.
The warm sunny days this month seem to increase the bluebirds’ interest in the nest box. I often see them dive off perches into the grass like they are catching bugs, but can’t see what they are eating. The prey must be small. Warm days bring out little Sulfur butterflies on the hill, so there is natural food for the bluebirds and of course, they get a daily supplement of mealworms to tide them over winter’s lean times.
Most of the month two almost mature sons have accompanied Mama and Daddy to the feeder in the mornings. The past couple of days there has been only one. I can hardly tell them from Daddy now if it weren’t for behavior. Daddy is clearly still the boss of the back yard. He won’t allow the young males on the box, his favorite perching spot or the mealworm feeder until he and Mama have fed.
Mama in the back yard. Painterly effect applied with Adobe. Click to enlarge.
Winter finds lots of goldfinches, House Finches and juncos in the back yard. The bluebirds know they aren’t a threat and pay them no mind, unless they land on the nest box. We don’t have many sparrows around, but I saw one checking out the nest box this past week. A male landed on the hole and was peering inside. I hadn’t seen the bluebirds around, but a blue streak came out of nowhere as Daddy dive-bombed the sparrow and chased him out of the back yard. Sparrows and bluebirds don’t mix and I’ve never heard of a bluebird surviving an assault by a sparrow while inside a nest box.
We will probably do a February report and then when the birds show signs of nesting activity, a detailed chronology will follow. Nesting, defending the nest box and raising babies is strenuous work for the bluebirds. Winter provides them a well-deserved vacation.
More bluebird pics are on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/sets/72157627747745082/ . Check out the ‘Birds’ set, too.
This handsome fellow is not Daddy, but one of his sons from last summer.