We don’t care what the calendar says, when Mama Bluebird starts a nest, it’s officially Spring on this reddirt hill. It appears Mama is genuinely building a nest, although not at her normal frenetic pace. She is a really fast nest builder when inspiration or perhaps ovulation motivates her.
Birds seem to know how to time the Spring insect crop to their first brood. I trust Mama’s forecast more than the sellers of weather hype on TV, so I broke out my shorts to celebrate Mama’s declaration of Spring. No more long pants until October.
The nest building routine seems to be the same for Eastern Bluebirds across their range. The female does all of the nest construction and the male plays the role of building inspector. Daddy is extremely interested in Mama’s efforts, and normally lands on the box and peers over the edge when she enters the box with grass. I suspect this is partially a survival strategy of cavity nesters. The male is right there if another species tries to trap his mate inside the box. He also keeps an eye out for the Sharp-shinned Hawk that considers the reddirt hill his territory.
Click photos to enlarge.
It’s not too late to attract bluebirds to a box this spring, but you need to hurry. Actually anytime is a good time to put up a bluebird box if you don’t have one. They often move to another nest site after raising a brood. That’s why I feed mine mealworms– to keep them bonded to this nest site and me. The birds know me from other people and come to the back yard if they see me outside. I put my first nestbox up in August because that was when I got around to it, not expecting any occupants until the following spring. To my surprise, my first pair moved in within a matter of days.
It looks like we are officially into the breeding season, so I’ll start the chronicle.
First Brood 2015
- First sign of nest building 10 March