Because the bluebird is beautiful and readily accepts the help of humans, and, because people love to nurture beautiful animals, especially those that are endearing, a strong natural bond is forged between man and the bluebird at the nest box. In many cases, that relationship not only lasts a lifetime but also grows into a greater awareness of the plight of all wild animals and the plant kingdom on which all animals depend. – Gary Springer, NABS Director, 2005.
All day long the bluebirds catch bugs and carry poop from the box. I must say these young, first-time parents are taking excellent care of their brood. Yesterday it was crickets, today it’s crickets and grasshoppers. Must have been a grasshopper hatch. Both of these insects are good, big sources of protein for growing baby bluebirds. A breakfast of mealworms starts the day off right. Both parents and babies begin the day with a full belly.
The babies are growing fast. They are probably twice as large as when they hatched, maybe more. Their eyes are still closed, but they are sprouting pin feathers and their beaks are much larger. They are gulping down some serious bugs now.
Daddy II removing a fecal sac. He just bailed out backwards with this in his beak. Click to enlarge.
I removed the unhatched egg the other day. I had to remove one baby from the nest to get to it. The stimulation of my touching it produced a nice large fecal sac in my palm. It’s not every day you can get this close to nature. A backyard necropsy on the egg showed that it was not fertilized. Just yolk, no sign of an embryo.
These babies grow up so fast. In just another week I won’t be able to open the box and check on them daily. It’s not wise to open a box after the babies reach the age of thirteen days. If one or all spook and jump out, often they won’t remain in the box if you put them back. Just a few days of maturity means the difference between an early death and survival. These chicks should fledge around 25 April.
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
- Removed unhatched egg 11 April