Home to an empty box …

As long as there are bluebirds, there will be miracles and a way to find happiness.
– Shirl Brunnel, I Hear Bluebirds, 1984

bluebirds 014When we left for the Texas Hill Country, the bluebirds had successfully fledged their first brood of the season and Mama almost had her second nest completed.  I expected to return home to a box with eggs.  I trapped sparrows for a week before I left and took four males out of our local population which is not large since I trap on a regular basis.  I even installed the Sparrow Spooker on the nestbox since I wouldn’t be here when the first egg was laid.

We returned home to an absence of bluebirds in the backyard.  Before we had our bags unpacked, I saw the head of a male House Sparrow peering out the box.  I feared the worst, that Mama’s corpse might be inside.  I immediately went out to look and found the bluebird nest removed and a small amount of messy sparrow material in the box.  I removed the sparrow nesting and cleaned the box.  I don’t know if eggs were destroyed or the nestbox taken over before Mama laid.  If she had already laid eggs, I doubt she has renested due to insufficient calcium in her body.  If she hadn’t laid eggs yet, the bluebirds have likely nested somewhere else.

Hosting bluebirds has its ups and downs.  Fortunately there are more highs than lows.  As a naturalist and conservationist I realize that we shouldn’t be guilty of anthropomorphism toward our bluebird guests.  They are wild birds and their conservation should be viewed on a species level rather than as individual birds.  I feel comfortable that the nesting success of the bluebirds I’ve hosted over the years is higher than that of birds nesting in the wild.  And I take comfort in the fact that I know I’ve put 67 new bluebirds on this reddirt hill.

I never know if our bluebirds will remain with us or move on.  I’m still seeing them in the yard occasionally and I’ve also seen some of the juveniles from the first brood drinking from the their little blue birdbath.  We brought a large blue birdbath home from Texas since bluebirds are attracted to the color blue.  I placed a little floating solar fountain to produce motion so the birds will find it quickly.  We have a pair of cardinals that are in the backyard a lot and a steady stream of visitors to our feeders, but it’s not the same without the bluebirds’ presence.

I’m not sure where fate takes us from here.  Our bluebirds could be gone or Mama could start building a nest today.  Only time will tell.

Total chicks fledged from this site is 67.

Second Brood 2016

  • First sign of nest building                                                24 April
  • Nest destroyed by HOSP                                                  Early May

 

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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.
This entry was posted in Birding, Bluebirds, Nature, nature photography, Oklahoma, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Home to an empty box …

  1. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the update, as disappointing as it is. Whether accidental, incidental or purposeful, introducing animals into a foreign environment can cause long-lasting and devastating effects.

  2. Elsabe Allen says:

    Oh dear, so sorry to hear this! My Bluebirds were not successful either sadly 😓 They laid 5 eggs, but often went to the other side of the porch where the Bewick’s Wren house is, and they kept looking into the wren box and sitting on it, even though they had their own box. Also, the resident Mockingbirds kept chasing the Bluebirds whenever the Mockingbirds came to the yard. I did not have trouble with HOSPS invading, the monofilament which I dangled either side of the entrance hole and strung across the roof, seems to actually keep them away. The Wrens had one successful fledgling- I saw the little one fledge after they’d spent a few weeks dodging the bluebirds whilst feeding it spiders and bugs! It’s a hard life for our birds 😕

  3. Hello! I’ve been looking at your lovely photos of bluebirds and bluebird eggs. I’m wanting to do a post on the colour Blue with 6 or 7 different photos and would like to request your permission to use this photo of the bluebird and also one of your photos of 6 eggs in a nest. I would provide a link back to each post that an image comes from as well as to your blog home. Would you please let me know if this is ok with you? Thanks!

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