First babies of the year

IMG_0769The bluebird eggs hatched right on schedule on day 13.  That is normal for here. Almost all my clutches hatch in thirteen days.  I checked the box a couple of times in the morning and saw signs of piping on the eggs.  At 1:30 p.m. I found two chicks had hatched.

Their feathers were not yet dry, so they hadn’t been out of the egg too long.  I did my normal dirty trick of cheeping to get them to open their mouths and once again, it worked.  It took some effort on this little bird’s part.  His head wobbled about a bit before he could get it upright and open his mouth.  By 2:30 p.m. the other two eggs had hatched and Mama had eaten all the egg shells.  Female bluebirds eat their eggshells to replenish the calcium drained from their bodies in the egg laying process.  I recall my grandmother adding crushed eggshell to her laying hen’s feed.  She said they needed it to keep laying.

The first couple of nights were unusually cold for April, dipping down to the freezing mark.  Mama spent a lot of time in the box keeping the babies warm.  Daddy caught little teeny bugs and brought them to the babies.  Mama would stick her head up to take them and then pass the bug on to one of the hungry mouths.

I’m still amazed that these bluebirds are so friendly and trusting of me.  Mama doesn’t fuss IMG_0786at all when I open the door to her box.  Both she and Daddy are trained to a whistle to come to get their mealworms.  And Daddy talks and wingwaves to me.  I guess that means I’m accepted.

Typically my bluebird babies have fledged on the seventeenth day after hatching.  That would mean these should fledge on April 30.  Mama and Daddy will be awfully busy feeding this crew and hauling poop from the nestbox.  The poop of young cavity nesting birds is encased in a thick gelatinous capsule and removed by the parents so the nest isn’t fouled.  I’ll try to get some photos of the parents removing them, but I have some file photos if we don’t.

Blubird populations have much improved thanks to people providing nest boxes.  The natural cavities are diminished due to clearing of the land and competition from invasive House Sparrows and European Starlings.  I encourage anyone who thinks they can attract bluebirds to their yard, to put up a proper nestbox.  It’s a great thing to do for the birds and an immense source pride and fulfillment to the host.  Anytime of the year is a good time because bluebirds raise multiple broods and are not tied to a nest site, often moving during the year.

Total bluebirds fledged from this nest site since 2009 is 49.

First 2014 Brood Summary

First sign of nest building                10 March

Nest completed                                  25 March

First egg                                               27 March

Fourth egg (assumption)                 30 March

Incubation begins                             01 April

Eggs hatch                                          13 April





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 and board member Norman Police Department Citizens Academy.
This entry was posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, Oklahoma and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to First babies of the year

  1. Rose Marie B says:

    I just mentioned to my Hubs last night that ‘we’ should have babies soon. I was worried about the cold snap we had in Oklahoma at the beginning of the week. This post really makes my heart sing today, thank you again for sharing your bluebirds’ lives with us. I share your blog on Twitter (@OKRoserock), I follow some great birders. I’ll be watching for updates on these little rascals. 🙂

  2. Margaret says:

    Congratulations on the new brood. Beautifully told story of their progress.

  3. Lmorrison says:

    We have a nest box. Fledged three clutches from it last year. Had a new set of Bluebirds come in this year. We had five eggs. Came home after being gone for the weekend to find sparrows at the box. No eggs!!!! I do not see the Bluebirds! What should we do. So very upset. Will they come back? I have eliminated the male sparrow! HELP!

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