On April 8, 2013, life changed for the pair of young Eastern Bluebirds that I host. On this date they became parents. If there is a life-changing event in human or bluebird life, it’s parenthood. The carefree lives these two young birds have enjoyed since they fledged last summer are over.
Carolyn and I took a short trip to Texas and returned late afternoon yesterday. After unloading, I went out to check the bluebird box. I really wasn’t surprised to find four little fuzzy, shrimp-like birds.
Young bluebird mother, Mama II. Click to enlarge.
They are featherless with their huge eyes sealed tightly. A couple of cheeps got one to wobbily raise its head and open wide, expecting a bug. I always feel a little guilty about tricking a little bitty baby bird, but I always do it. Makes for a much better photo.
One blue egg remains underneath this pile of baby bluebirds, so their body heat will continue to incubate it. It could still hatch. I’ll leave it in the nest for about three days and remove it if it remains unhatched. Mama II and Daddy II are already busy catching teeny bugs and bringing them to the babies. The bluebirds inherently know to match the size of bugs to the size of their babies.
For the next month the bluebirds’ lives will consist of constantly catching bugs and carrying poop from the nest. Bugs in and bugs out. The poop of cavity nesting birds is encased in a thick gelatinous membrane called a fecal sac to prevent nest fouling. My observations show that normally the chicks poop when being fed. You’ll see a parent come in with a bug and leave with a fecal sac.
Bluebird babies aren’t babies long. These teeny birds will fledge in about 17-18 days and by the time they are a month old, will be feeding themselves. The parents will take a week or two off and begin the nesting cycle again. Such is the life of a bluebird. I feel privileged to be a part of the day to day lives of our backyard bluebirds.
See my nature pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/
First Brood Summary
- First sign of nest building 09 March
- Nest completed 15 March
- First egg laid 18 March
- Second egg laid 19 March
- Third egg laid 20 March
- Fourth egg laid 21 March
- Fifth egg laid 22 March
- Incubation begins 25 March
- Four eggs hatch 08 April