Almost ready to fledge

16981016167_d17616860b_oWe just returned from a trip to the Texas Hill Country so there is a gap in reporting on the progress of the baby bluebirds.  They are 13-days old today.  After 13 days the box shouldn’t be opened because it may cause the babies to prematurely fledge.  Once they have been out of the box, they won’t stay inside.  Just a few days longer in the box makes a huge difference in their maturity and chances of survival.

I took some photos this morning and you can see the babies are feathered and have lots IMG_1637of blue.  At this stage, they view me as a predator, hide their heads and remain completely motionless.  Not cooperative models.  Normally, our bluebirds fledge on day 17 which would be 21 April.  They will do a lot of peering out prior to fledging, so when this happens they are about to fly into the big wide world.  Amazing that untested wings can fly so well.  Mama flies around them calling and leads them to some big pecan trees down on the creek. A good 40 yards away for their first flight.  Sometimes one won’t make it and will land on the house or in the yard.  Mama will coax it to the others and they remain huddled together for a few days while the parents continue to feed them.  After a week or so, they follow Daddy to the yard for mealworms. We are leaving for a short trip on 22 April, so we could miss the big day.

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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 Norman Police Department Citizens Academy.
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12 Responses to Almost ready to fledge

  1. Margaret says:

    Wonderful news.

  2. Jo Ann says:

    Not going so well here in Chicago suburbs. My kids got me a camera bluebird house. Was absolutely thrilled! Mounted it but did not run cable. A pair of chickadees started to make a nest in other bluebird house, and sparrow (I believe) killed chickadee in new house.
    Do I really want to watch a house when that occurs?
    Removed other chickadee nest after seeing no more action around it, and wondering what to do before the bluebirds get here!
    Be careful what you wish for!

    • lindell dillon says:

      Sorry to hear this. My first comment to prospective bluebird hosts is to have a sparrow control plan in effect before a box is placed in the yard. HOSP’s don’t live in the woods, they are associated with human structures. A box without a HOSP plan is a death trap for bluebirds. Better to have no box and let them find a natural nesting place where HOSP’s aren’t around.

      • Elsabe Allen says:

        I put fishing line on my bluebird box and so far the Sparrows are leaving it alone. – hope that lasts! Love your posts!

  3. SHARI says:

    I, too, have chickadees in two of my boxes. I changed the bluebird portal to a smaller chickadee portal to protect the chickadees. My box that had a bluebird nest and 1 egg was rejected by the bluebird after a cold weather spell in ATL:( Maybe I’ll get one before the season’s over. Meanwhile, I have 6 and 5 chickadee eggs in each respective chickadee box:)

    • Jo Ann Wilkinson says:

      Thanks for the info. Will have DH make a smaller hole. Bluebirds not here (Chgo. sub.) yet. House wrens can also wreak havoc. Not here yet either, but I will no longer put up houses for them. If I’m lucky, may have some tree swallows in one of houses. Something killed one & baby a couple of yrs. ago.
      We’ll see……

    • lindell dillon says:

      Chickadees are nice. Bluebird hosts should welcome any native species.

      • Elsabe Allen says:

        I finally put up a nest box my late father in law made me in 1998 – I had occasionally seen Bluebirds sitting on our fence the last 2 years. I didn’t realize the hole was only an inch in diameter – put it up while we were away on a contract in Chicago last year. This year I saw Bluebirds looking wistfully at it, so I used a wood file when I realized the hole was too small and made it as big as I could. Not 1.5″ though, only got it to about 1 1/8 ” – so next thing I see Wrens started nest building, only they could fit in the hole! I think Bewick’s Wrens, more buff/ grey than reddish. They are sweet. Feeding babies as they dodge the Bluebirds! At that time I rushed out and bought a new Bluebird nest box at Lowes, and hung monofilament from the corners as I’d seen suggested somewhere. After about three weeks the Bluebirds decided to use it, poor things probably can’t find a better site. I never planned to provide a box but they kept reappearing in our yard. I Live in Edmond, OK in a new addition near a farm. I feel sad that their nest sites are taken over by sparrows 😕

      • lindell dillon says:

        Congrats on attracting bluebirds! House Sparrows hang around human structures, so in the wild, they aren’t much of a threat to bluebirds. It’s when people erect boxes in city and suburban settings that bluebirds are at danger. It’s incumbent on those who lure them into dangerous nesting areas to protect their bluebirds. I have doubts that monofilament hung from the corners of the box will keep a way a determined male HOSP. I know that a Sparrow Spooker will. Why not go the extra mile and protect your bluebirds with a proven deterrent?

      • Elizabeth Allen says:

        I didn’t plan on attracting BLUEBIRDS, they just keep coming to our yard, this is the first time I tried to seriously provide a box. I don’t have dogs or cats, so it wasn’t a deliberate effort to get them here. I will get the spoiler too then, as extra protection. Thanks for all the info you provide!

  4. maitre0926 says:

    Had my first pair nest and watched as the parents fed the babies. Have been too worried to monitor the nest and was out of town so not real sure how long. But last two days noticed worrisome sign. Parents stopped feeding and instead twittering loudly from near by branches and swooping by nest box over and over. Checked for predators but did not see any. After reading about parasites decided to look in. 3 fully feathered but weak nestlings in very foul smelling wet nest with tiny flys. Moved babies to dry nest material in bowl, cleaned out box, replaced nest material and place surviving two birds back. An hour later witnessed the strongest one leave nest and flutter to ground and hop under bushes. Parents continue to Twitter and swoop. It is now night. Don’t know if I interveined to late or to early.

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