Autumn on the red dirt hill

There is not a lot going on in bluebird life in the fall.  No eggs to hatch, babies to feed nor nest to protect.  The weather is unseasonably mild and insects are plentiful.  Life is easy for the pair of young Eastern Bluebirds on the red dirt hill.  Another young male is frequently with the pair when they visit the yard.  They are usually here in the morning for their breakfast of mealworms and again in late afternoon for a drink from the blue birdbath and to check out the nestbox.

Mama II in the back yard.  Click to enlarge.

I’m seeing Eastern Bluebirds flocked up in groups from six to twenty east of Norman in the Cross Timbers.  They are most likely migrants from the northern plains that will spend the winter here.  Oklahoma bluebirds stay here year round.

House Sparrows continue to be a threat to the young pair.  They are also attracted to the nestbox and females will enter it, even in winter.  If a bluebird is inside and a sparrow enters, the resulting skirmish will likely be fatal to the bluebird.  Since the bluebirds are young and haven’t nested, the male is not protective of the back yard the way my original Daddy was.  He would chase a sparrow on sight and could usually discourage the sparrows from entering his territory.  I have my sparrow trap from baited with white millet and have removed a dozen recently, but still have some around.  I’ve removed 39 this year.  Had I not done that, I don’t think I’d have any bluebirds.  Dealing with HOSP’s is an unpleasant, but necessary element of hosting bluebirds.

The bluebirds don’t have many migrant neighbors yet this winter.  There are currently 10-15 House Finches in the back yard daily on sunflower, but no juncos, goldfinches or

A male House Finch in the back yard.

native sparrows yet.  The Sharp-shinned hawk still comes in low over the back yard occasionally, so the bluebirds have to keep a sharp eye out for him.  Three crows come in daily to feed on broadcast grain, but are no threat to the bluebirds.

It’s looking like this pair of young bluebirds have staked their claim to this little patch of the red dirt hill.  That’s OK with me.


About lindell dillon

Lindell Dillon is retired and lives in Norman, OK. He grew up in Duncan, attended Cameron College and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. His interests include photography, nature, birding, and investing. Oklahoma Master Naturalist, alumnus Norman Police Department Citizens Academy.
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