Hosting bluebirds is a tremendously rewarding experience. It’s just plain fun and you feel like you’ve made a contribution to bluebird populations. You get to know your birds and they even know you. Bluebirds are just congenial little birds and become a part of your family. Just like in the human world, sometimes tragedies happen in the bluebird world as well.
I reported on the intense heat this week in yesterday’s post. It was 104 degrees yesterday and all the birds in the yard were showing signs of heat stress. When I put out mealworms this morning, Mama T. and Daddy showed up together and shared a breakfast. I thought it odd that they didn’t take any to the babies. I went out to check on them for the last time before they fledged and discovered the heat had taken its toll. Both of the babies were dead, I guess from heat stroke. I feel terrible about it. What if I had rigged up a shade or sprayed their box with water to cool it? Could I have prevented this tragedy? You always second guess yourself when you lose someone to an accidental death.
In three years of raising babies these are our first casualties and it stings. I had planned to move the box to a shady area for the second brood, and normally that would have been in May before it gets oppressively hot. But, with the death of Mama and this first brood strung out so long, it was running a month behind normal.
It was so sad to watch the birds check the empty box over and over. They hung around the patio all morning. It was obvious they were disturbed and confused. At least they have shade and water. I set up a mister over the birdbath this week because of the heat.
In nature the cycle always continues and I suspect the bluebirds will soon start a second brood. I’ll clean out their box and move it so it will be in the shade of a little Live Oak in the back yard. And so we start over on our mission to put more new bluebirds on this red dirt hill.
- Nest completed by previous female
- First egg laid 28 May
- Second egg 29 May
- Third egg 31 May
- First chick hatches 13 June
- Second chick hatches 14 June
- Unhatched egg removed 18 June
- Babies succumb to heat 27 June