The 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 at 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