A tragedy struck out of the blue late yesterday afternoon. I walked into the kitchen and through the partially closed plantation shutters I saw a roadrunner on the patio aggressively banging a bird on the concrete. I assumed it was probably a sparrow and ran to grab my camera. When I returned the roadrunner was running up the hill with the body of Daddy Bluebird.
I almost couldn’t believe my eyes, thinking maybe I didn’t get a good look and it wasn’t really Daddy. But the blue feathers scattered on the patio left no doubt. Greater Roadrunners are skilled and aggressive predators, but the thought of one catching one of the bluebirds was not on my radar. The bluebirds spend no time on the ground except to dive and catch a bug. I still can’t believe that this happened. What tragically bad luck for our hapless backyard bluebird.
Evidently Mama witnessed the event because she was very nervous and upset, calling incessantly for her mate. But after a half-hour, her maternal instincts kicked in and she went back to work catching bugs to feed her three chicks in the box. Life in nature is tough and perseveres through good times and tough. As a naturalist and a conservationist I realize that one must concentrate on the well being of the species and not get focused on individual birds or black swan events. But as the host of this beautiful bird for several years, it hurts. Daddy was much more bonded to me than Mama. He would chatter and wingwave to me. Knew me from other individuals. That’s a friend, even if he was a bird.
In my last post, I concluded with the statement that I hoped we fledged these chicks with no drama. Little did I know. Hosting bluebirds is gratifying and entertaining, but it is often filled with drama because it is a slice of nature. These are wild birds, although a bit pampered. Life in nature can be harsh and all species have predators and suffer tragedies and premature death. Most of the time it just goes unnoticed and unchronicled by a human.
We will regroup this morning and get on with rearing the babies. I’ll get some mealworms and provide a lot of them so Mama won’t have to hunt so hard to provide bugs for the chicks. This is her first season here, so she is not as bonded to this site as Daddy was. Hopefully she enjoys her house with the bright blue bird bath in the shade right next door and will find another mate and stay on.
Total chicks fledged from this site is 67.
Third Brood 2016
- First sign of nest building 15 June
- Three eggs 21 June
- Three eggs hatch 04 July