Daddy on poop patrol. Leaving the box with a fecal sac. He just fell out of the box backward with it and then took off. They always drop them some distance from the box to avoid predators keying in on their nest.
duc, I think if I held the feeder Daddy is accustomed to, he would land on it. Then make a transition to something else or just my hand, but I'm not sure that it would be a good idea to make him that comfortable with a human.
C'mon folks. Let's see some BB's.
Mama with a moth she brought to the babies yesterday.
Look who came back late in the day for some worms. They gathered them up and took them to the babies down on the creek. I tried to find them, but they are on the other side of the creek and hidden from my view. It's going to be cold tonight, but the babies have full bellies!
Great light for a change. Mama has never looked so colorful.
I hadn't seen the bluebirds all afternoon after the babies fledged. While we were eating dinner, the oriole that had visited earlier today landed on the feeder in the back yard. I jumped up grabbed the camera and as I'm heading to the window see the oriole being chased away by Daddy. He checked the box several times just like last year, almost like he's making sure everyone is out.
No luck in finding my recently fledged babies. They are down on a nearby creek with a lot of mature trees and lots of green foilage to hide in. The parents come and take worms to them and I try to follow, but no luck so far. When I came in yesterday, my wife asked me if I found the babies and I responded, "I found Mama and Daddy found me." I was down on the creek watching Mama through the binocs hoping she would lead me to the babies and I heard Daddy's melodious greeting. He was sitting nearby watching me.
We were in Branson last week and didn't see much of the bluebirds. I returned home Friday and was surprised that Mama had laid the first egg of her second brood. She didn't do that last year unti 31 May. She skipped Saturday and laid a second egg yesterday. No sign of the babies since they fledged.
After I made that post this morning all 3 of the fledglings showed up next door and in our back yard with Daddy. Mama was in the box laying. The young fly as strong as the parents and are extremely spooky. That's good.
dellrose, did your babies fledge? Daddy is bringing ours back for breakfast now and they are in and out of the yard. Getting brave enough to come down to the mealworm feeder. Mama has laid 3 eggs on a second clutch, but hasn't laid in a couple of days. Not sure what is up with that.
Your juvies are just adorable!! All your Blues are gorgeous and look very healthy. Has your female laid anymore eggs?
Our brood fledged on Wednesday morning and I missed the whole thing. I was up early but evidently not early enough since they were all gone by 7:30. I finally found all 6 of them this morning in the walnut tree. It was a relief to see them since we have had some storms and strong winds since they fledged.
I love all of the pictures! This is our second year providing nest boxes for bluebirds and I am hooked! I still haven't been able to get a single good picture, though. Do you all use a special lens or technique? Any hints? I am new to all of this, so please understand if this is inappropriate, but is there a way to swap picture on Dave's? The ones in this thread are wonderful and I'd love to hang a few on my walls.
By the way, a pair of BlueBirds is scouting out the two boxes closest to our house. (Maybe they are "our" birds from last year, which successfully fledged several babies?) This spring, we lost a nest (only one egg had been laid) when the tornadoes ripped through close to us last month, and we hadn't seen any return until three days ago. It's amazing to me how much I look forward to seeing them, when two years ago, I had no idea they were around. Thanks for sharing and your help.
Glad your babies are safe, rose. We had a little confrontation with the mockingbirds last night and I'm afraid it might be irreversible. We had some guests over and I put out some worms so they could see the bluebirds up close. The mockers saw the worms in the feeder, took over and chased the bluebirds away. I've moved it out of site of the mockingbirds. I'll try again in a little while.
Sandhillslover, I think the most important key to getting good bluebirds is to get acquainted with a pair. Once they know and trust you, close shots will follow.
Mama is incubating a second brood of only 3 eggs so Daddy spends a lot of time around the box. Often sits on the edge and peers at the hole. Yesterday when I put out mealworms, he took some to Mama and passed them into her.
lily, bluebirds form a bond with you that other birds don't. I feed all sorts of birds around here and most fly off when I walk out into the yard. Daddy is the only one that flies in when he sees me. Mama is much more shy than he is. They become pets for sure.
Mama is inside the box. Daddy and one of the first brood juvies are paying her a visit.
If they are hanging around, sooner or later they should select one of your nest boxes. They are somewhat picky about height, be sure they are 4-6 feet off the ground. The also prefer holes facing the east.
I removed the unhatched egg today and it was unfertilized. Maybe Daddy hasn't been doing his job. The two babies are growing fast. Daddy saw me out by the box and came in immediately to see if he could get a few worms. And of course, I obliged. Here he is taking some to the babies.
Bluebird eggs hatch in 12-14 days. According to my notes, these hatched in 11. I suspect that I didn't record a day or two of incubation. The clutch was only 3 eggs, so I thought Mama was laying while in the box and she had probably started setting the eggs. The two babies are getting feathers now and will be fledging before I know it.
The light was great on that pic of Daddy. But as you can see the blue on his wings is fuzzy. I think the iridescence of their feathers in some light just confuses the camera. I tried sharpening the image and it was worse. I've experienced the same thing with Indigo Buntings, which are actually black, but appear blue due to their iridescent feathers. I'm going to experiment with how I set up the focus on the feeder shots. For bird pics I normally use one little center focus block. I may just start reverting to auto for the bb's.
The mockingbirds continue to harass the bluebirds more than ever. They chase the adults when they try to get meal worms for the fledglings. They chase the fledglings who are just learning to feed themselves. They chase the song sparrows too. Their preferred tactic is to fly right at the smaller bird and hope that he will drop a few meal worms as he scampers.
Since they have discovered that they (the mockers) can also squeeze into the cage, I have taken to putting the worms out in the open and standing nearby with the garden hose. This sequence, taken today, shows how the adult male bluebird reacts when he sees the mocker coming right at him.
Fortunately my mockingbird situation has improved. They are building a second nest in the front yard, so we have some space between them. I'm just putting out a few mealworms at a time and like you, stay out until the bluebirds eat them. Daddy has reclaimed his favorite perching spot in the back yard which is near the mockers' old nest. They are aggressive birds, to say the least.
Mama laid a single little powder blue egg day before yesterday. This is the first egg of this year's third clutch. She was in the box most of the morning yesterday, but didn't produce an egg. She is back in this morning.
The three survivors from our second clutch are feeding themselves now. The four eggs Mama has been sitting on should hatch tomorrow. The big question will be whether she will go for a fourth nesting. We won't know the answer to that for another month or so.
Here is one of the four mockingbirds that just won't give up. He is just beyond the reach of my garden hose. Incidentally, I shot all these with the Canon 100-400mm zoom. I have had it a year and this is the first time I have ever used it for birding. I can see why people like it -- It certainly is light weight, compared to my prime lenses.
Well, Dave. I'm assuming you probably have 4 baby blues by now. The last two times Mama has laid, there has been an unfertilized egg. She is also laying smaller clutches this year. I think she is an old bird.
She does have another egg. She laid one, skipped a day, laid another and skipped today.
Only three of the eggs have hatched, Red. I'll give her another day and remove and candle the fourth egg.
I have two pair of the mockingbirds that are driving me crazy. All four parents come when I go out with meal worms and they have become quite brazen. They fly up to within five feet of me and swoop down and actually bang into the juvenile bluebirds, hoping to dislodge a few meal worms. When they get a worm they rarely eat it; instead they fly off to the wooded area, so they must be feeding nestlings.
I am excited to report 4 eggs being incubated. The 4th was laid Saturday or yesterday. The box is on a pole with a baffle, so hopefully nothing will get these babies. I seem to have forgotten...is incubation 14 days till hatching?
Thank you Dave. My house got broken into and cleaned of over $30,000 in jewelry plus my Cannon dig SLR with a 2.8 ?70-200 zoom. Just when I was revving up with excitement about spring / summer shooting...Bah Humbug!!
That theft is a bummer. I have no mercy for thieves. We had a credit card counterfeited and used out of state last week and that has been a hassle. We have all of our monthly recurring bills on that card and pay in full each month. So I've had to get a new card and change the numbers. Hackers are no longer just thrill-seeking geeks, it's evolved to teams who are in it to make big money.
On a more pleasant note, Mama has laid a third egg in this third clutch.
And the bluebirds got a new birdbath today. I'm sure they will share it with most of the back yard visitors. It's amazing how Daddy differentiates friends from foes. He pays no mind to the finches, cardinals and native sparrows. Let a HOSP, Cow Bird or grackle land in the yard and he's on it.
Beautiful birdbath Red. So glad to see the future clutch is well on the way. Last week in our state, authority captured a team of hightech geeks that were staking out at local ATM machines to steal customer's banking info. Scary these days.
My birds from the second nesting are getting to be pretty good fliers and Papa is starting to act like he is about to chase them away. They tend to get right into the bowl, as you see here, and Papa doesn't wait long before he flies in, bumping them out of the way.
My three in the nest box are a week old and growing like weeds. I now have two pair of robins, along with the two pair of mockingbirds, trying to get meal worms to take back to their nestlings.
Your pics are so beautiful. My 5 eggs are doing well. Momma sits dutifully incubating them. I can't imagine how hot it must be in there with so many of our days being in the upper 80's & 90's. Wish I could fix them a mini fan!!
Well I now have 5 fuzzy headed BB hatchlings 3-4 days old. Got mealworms and they are feeding the bebies of course. I think it is 14 days to fledge from the day of the laast hatchling. So I think that will make it 7/14 (Dave please corect me if wrong)
Congrats on your babies, sheri. Fledging will probably be more like 17-18 days. My three eggs of the third brood should hatch around 11 July. We have had triple digit temps every day, so they shouldn't be late.
LOL...I must get a picture tomorrow while they still look like little punk rockers with that funny haircut. So that should make fledgling about 7/28 I pray that they and their parents stay safe and grow well . I am so excited and putting out meal-worms morning and night, If I see the daddy hanging around they get a mid day or afternoon feeding also Unfortunately some other birds have spotted the dish. I just hope no sparrows come.
Very happy for you Birdie. Hope things continue to go well. My third nestors are due to fledge tomorrow or Tuesday. Either way I expect I'll miss it. We have medical appointments in Northern Virginia both days. I watch them on the nest cam and they seem to be OK. It has been hot here too. Mid nineties every day and 103 day before yesterday. I can only imagine how hot it must be inside the nest box.
My meal worm feeding has gotten totally out of hand. I have two pair of mockingbirds and two pair of robins, all nesting within 50 feet of the bluebird nest box. One mockingbird nest is in a crepe myrtle less than 20 feet from the bluebirds' nest. All eight of the bigger birds come flying if I go out on the deck, or if they see the bluebirds feeding. I usually have to throw a handful of mealies down on the patio below to divert their attention, and then quickly put worms in the feeder for the bluebirds. The backyard is a flying circus with aerial fights and dive-bombing, and me, the ring master in the middle with my garden hose, squirting any robin or mockingbird that comes too near the bluebirds.
Despite all this I am still taking lots of pictures of the bluebirds. I tend to demonize the mockers so much I forget that they too have a family to feed.
Well, I feel like I am hijacking Red's thread, but since I said I expected my birds would fledge today, let me add that they did. In fact, one jumped the gun and left last night (Sunday) at 8:13--just before dark. I had a medical appointment this morning in Northern Virginia and had to leave by 9:15. I set up my cameras, just in case the remaining two had not fledged by the time I got back. About 5 minutes before I left I was looking through one of the cameras and shooting pictures of one of the birds peeking when he suddenly wiggled out, looked left and right and was on his way!
Thank you Margaret. It is indeed a rare shot. Many bluebird hosts manage long trails, with literally hundreds of nest boxes, but have rarely seen a bluebird fledge, much less get a picture of it. We backyard hosts watch them closer so we have a much better chance but still, they leave when they are ready and usually without warning. With our busy lives, we sometimes miss it.
Dave, you aren't highjacking my thread. I started this to encourage more people to post and comment on bluebirds. I always enjoy your pics. I haven't been taking any, not much going on. The three eggs should hatch today, then there will be a little more activity in the back yard.
One of the second brood juvies practicing on his wing waving.
Dave, congrats on actually catching the fledglings-all your photos are so wonderful. The time you spend with those birds really shows your love for them. I love that you called your backyard a flying circus-I feel the same way here with all my birds fighting the feeders.
Red, your little juvie is also wonderful. I love the way it's waving that wing.
Hi, I am new to this thread, but maybe someone can help. I have 5 young that just fledged yesterday. Unfortunately I missed it.
Anyway, now parents have taken young somewhere, which I know is normal, but the parents are still in my yard chirping allot. Are they calling to the young? Or are they just chirping to be making noise? I have cleaned out the nest box already because after first batch left they started nesting again the next day.
To my knowledge all 5 young are ok. Last brood neighbors cat got one. Only one survivor out of 3. But this time all five were good last time I was able to look in nest box. With the last brood, when parents took them away they stayed with them for a few days. This time they are still here but calling. Is this normal?
Thanks for any info. By the way, all of the pics are great!
I'm not sure what the calling is about. Normally the fledglings return to my back yard a week or so after leaving the box. You'll probably see them again.
My third clutch of three eggs should have hatched on 11 July, so I removed an egg this morning and checked the contents. It's been over 100 degrees every day they have been in the box and egg failure is high in hot weather. The egg had a yolk, but no embryo. Tested the other two with same results, so I removed the nest so Mama won't be inclined to endure the heat of that box any longer.
We are leaving for Santa Fe in the morning, so I won't see the bluebirds for awhile. I hope they don't attempt another nest this season. Just too hot.
Well the calling has stopped after one day. Didn't see the blues for a few days, assume they are with their young. Male was back this morning eating mealworms and a checking out the nest box again. It's ready to go, but so hot here in Indiana, 90's+. I'm sure they will all be back. Thanks for the input.
Hot here too 95 or better every day for more than a week and several days over 100. One day 106. Don't know what we did growing up without air conditioning. Guess that's why we had all those fans at church.
I figure I should keep Red's thread alive while he's gone. Let me see what I can find.
We returned home from Santa Fe to find the bluebirds have built a fourth nest and it has two eggs. It's so hot, I'd hoped they wouldn't try to nest again this year. Unless the heat breaks, I'm not real optimistic about these eggs hatching.
Mama appears to be incubating the two eggs. I noticed her staying in the box on 05 August. It is 104 degrees in the shade this afternoon, I can't imagine the temperature inside that box in the full sun. She gets so hot, she can't really sit on the eggs, gets up so she can get a breath of air at the entrance to the box.
Interesting! I wonder if in situations like this where the temperature in the box is higher than her body temperature, whether her body acts as a cooling action to keep the eggs within the optimum incubation range.
Just had my first baby bluebirds fledge this week. I miss seeing the parents and older sibs from the last clutch around, so I bought some mealworms hoping to attract the family back to my yard (or maybe other insect eating birds). Have put them out on our platform feeder in a little glass dish as per the recommendations on many websites, but they've been untouched for two days now. What am I doing wrong?
PS - the picture is of the four babies in the nest the last time I took their pic before leaving them alone at day 12
Dave, I don't think the mama BB can cool eggs by sitting on them. I've never seen exactly what a BB's body temp is, but most songbirds have a body temp of 104-108 degrees F. I have read about BB studies that show when outside temps reach 107, eggs will become addled. This recent brood had the first six days of incubation, and a couple of days before that in that range, so I suspect they are addled and won't hatch.
Next year, I'm going to let my pair do their first nesting in the box they have used for 3 seasons and then move it to a place where it will have afternoon shade.
mom, I've had people who see my BB's feed, go buy mealworms and think they can attract them. I've not seen that work. The worms are usually eaten by some other species. I think a nest box is a better attractant. If they return to the nest box, you can put out some mealworms and if you keep them out consistently, probably keep the birds around. I feed mine year round out of a little feeder that I stick in the ground on the edge of the patio. They come up within a few feet of us.
I expect you are right about the eggs hatching, Red. And if the outside temperature gets above 105, you can imagine how much hotter it must be inside the box. But sometimes nature surprises us. We should find out for sure in a few weeks.
The hawks got all three of the fledglings from our last brood and the adults had run off the juveniles from the nesting before that one, so I only have the two adults coming for meal worms, and they only show up morning and late afternoon. They are about half way through their annual molt and looking anything but pretty.
I just discovered a camera card from back in June, that I had not reviewed. This was taken from about 150 feet with the 600mm.
As expected the two eggs in the fourth clutch didn't hatch due to the excessive heat. I removed them and the nest a few days ago. Neither had any sign of an embryo. I haven't seen Daddy in a few days and I always get anxious about one of the bluebirds when I don't see them. There are a pair of Cooper's Hawks that come over daily. I put worms out this morning and missed who ate them, but they are gone, so one or both of the bluebirds was here this morning.
Red, it's such a priviledge for us to be able to watch their activity daily. I like many others missed seeing our little feathered friends and often wondering where they've gone to or what happened to them. I too noticed Blue Birds were not seen as abundant as it was when the weather was mild. xiamenmom, how nice to have the little ones returned for a visit.
This was the first year or bluebird houses actually had bluebirds in them...This spring is was so fun to watch them...and now they are all over out dogwood trees...I guess getting their bellies full of the lipid rich red berries. The flock has been around now for about two weeks and seem to be growing each day...Good news for us can't wait to put up a few more bluebird houses this winter and see what happens.
Make sure you place the boxes a good distance apart. Otherwise what will happen will be constant fights between the males when they start nesting in the Spring. 300 feet apart is a good figure to use, but you might get them a little closer if one box cannot be seen from the other, such as on opposite sides of your house. Bluebird males are VERY territorial when nesting and will defend a 300 foot radius and anything within it, including other boxes, and/or food and water sources.
Since my birds are molting and still looking less than their best, I am not showing many pictures of them. I have however, been looking back at pictures that I took several years ago but had not previously reviewed, looking for anything unusual. Here is one that caught my eye.
Since I removed the failed fourth nest and eggs, my bluebirds haven't been around the back yard as much. Didn't show up to eat their worms yesterday. They are molting, too. Lots of birds are this time of year, the crows that show up to eat broadcast grain really look rough. But this pair of bluebirds has given us lots of memories over the past three years and lots of these little guys.
Birdie, they have it in a different state each year. Last year it was in Canada and I wasn't able to go. Next year it will be in Southern California, and I hope to go, but in 2013 it will be in Aiken, South Carolina, which is even closer than Tennessee.
I prefer to drive so I can take a lot of my camera stuff. Jackson, Tennessee is almost 800 miles from here. I got up at 4:00 am and drove home nonstop. The GPS estimated the driving time would be 17 hours but I made it in under 12 (and no speeding tickets). Actually, it was Interstate all the way and the speed limit was 70 most of the time so I was able to average 65 legally.
Glad to report my adults have all but finished their molt. Now I will try to lure them back for pictures. Hope they haven't forgotten me. This is from yesterday morning. A little dull since it was trying to rain.
Bluebirds have moved into my 13 yr old box, and my mailbox...and maybe a ceramic house out on a backyard pole, it's a little high for me to see yet :O)
We r putting up a purple double door home on one of the trees and the Big Red Tomato is out for any adventurous bird guests...LOL
I had some Bluebirds come bay back in November or December for the 1st time ever. I spotted something different in the backyard trees and then heard their calls. They came by for a couple days while I was home. I don't get them in my backyard at least not while I am at home. I put out some meal worms hoping they'd become regulars, but no luck. I just have to catch them when I am out in the bush.
Hello Al, Red and everyone. I spoke a little too soon, I afraid. Last year, my Blue Birds came to check out a new nest box. But they didn't nest there then. This winter, they have consistently coming back more and more frequent now. So I hope they will decide to settle down this spring. I'll keep you posted. Good luck with yours Al. Buffy690, how are things coming along at your garden?