Sort of a dismal, overcast day hereabouts. Kind that makes the birds worry all day that it's getting dark, I guess. Anyway, they were all lined up for meal worms, all day long. Lots of photo opportunities for shots of Papa, since he has decided they are his worms and to chase away all birds his size or smaller (And he apparently thinks he's as big as a cowbird or a starling!)
Yes, Muddylou, it is a yellow rumped warbler. Commonly known as a butter-butt. He comes by every spring and stays 2 or 3 weeks, then moves on. Same way with an Eastern Phoebe. He hasn't shown up yet this year, but has stopped off the past several years
Ha! I love it - butter butt! Guess where Butter Butt and Eastern Phoebe end up? At my cabin!! (along the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota). The forest there just teems with warblers in the summer. We've had a phoebe couple nesting under our cabin eaves for the past 5 or so years (but sadly not last year...I saw them around, but did not spot the nest). I find warbler ID to be extremely difficult - they tend to be small & FAST.
You can never be absolutely certain with the first brood of the season. Two years ago the first one didn't hatch. It was awfully cold that spring. I let her sit for about 21 days and then removed the eggs (and the nest). I could have removed them before that, but you just keep hoping and waiting one more day. I hear she would have sit on them for a month or more before she would have abandoned the nest.
She built a new nest 2 days later and that brood was successful.
I'll be checking throughout the day tomorrow and keep you posted.
Sorry to dissappoint you but when I last checked,about 3:00 pm, still no hatchlings. It was rather raw and raining pretty hard just before dark and I couldn't bring myself to chase her out so I could look again. Maybe it's a good thing they weren't hatched today. Probably a lot easier for her to keep the eggs warm tonight than the little birds.
I did look several times during the day and interestingly, each time after I did, the male flew down and went in to check the interior before the female went back in.
Here is a shot of the eggs. There is an interesting color flaw on the egg nearest the camera that I had not seen previously. She keeps turning them and it was probably out of sight on the underside when I looked previously.
Actually, the nest, and particularly the cup portion, was even neater before she began laying eggs (and I began pulling down the front edge so I could get a more unobstructed picture).
As to the possible color flaw, when I looked just now I found she had rolled the eggs again, so that the part of that egg is no longer visable to me. I do see that there is an apparent color flaw on a different egg. I still believe these are color flaws and not tissue or some other foreign substance. Bluebirds are particularly neat and I have never seen such foreign materials carried into a nest.
We may never know for certain because if they hatch today, as I believe they will, Mama will probably eat the egg shells. Should they not hatch, which is certainly possible, I will examine and protograph them with a better camera and post the results here.
And Mrs Ed, I am pacing too. Incidentally, you may not know but some bluebirds lay white eggs. Quite rare but it is a genetic trait, apparently passed down through certain females. But the birds that hatch from white eggs are identical in appareance to the ones hatched from blue eggs.
It helps replenish their loss of calcium. It also gets rid of nest clutter, which BBs apparently deplore. I have never found broken egg shells in a nest and have only once seen a female fly out of the nestbox with a piece of a blue egg shell. And I did manage to photograph that incident.
The birds apparently sense that the time is near. Papa has been inside the nestbox frequently, sometimes while the female was also in there.
I know what you mean OP! I had to check the backyard every 5 minutes today - can't get a whole lot done - but today they just stopped by in the morning & I haven't seen them since (the usual MO for this time of year) - I'm running out for mealworms tomorrow tho - MN weather is soooooo iffy this time of year & I can't have those birds going hungry. ; )
meanwhile, waiting for Dave's babies...arrrggghhhh...
I would like to get some shots of a baby, just as it cuts its way out of the shell, but one would probably need a nest cam to get those. Mama is willing to leave the nest, but not for long. You can see how exposed the little one is. This shot is with the first camera also. I can't seem to get those close up shots with any of my newer stuff.
We now have three, I did take a picture but it is not great. I focused on the one fartherest from me and the nearer ones are badly out of focus. But at least you can see three mouths open. The one on the left is obviously the newest since his feathers/fuzz is still wet. The others have dried. I had one egg hatch a day later in the last brood so maybe that will happen again. When it came time to fledge, one (possibly the same one) didn't go until the day after all the others.
'Morning everyone. Lou, the weather here is, well, just a bit nasty. If it were a bit colder I would call it raw. Good day to be inside.
It is drizzling rain and 40 degrees. Also a good day for Mama and the babies to be inside the box. Not many insects out yet so its good the birds have the mealworms.
As of a few minutes ago, we still have one unhatched egg. I will watch it for a day or two and then remove it. If it hatches today it will probably be all right. If it were to hatch two or more days after the others it probably wouldn't survive in the nest. It's amazing how fast they mature. Just 17 or 18 days after the hatch they fly away, so you can see what even a two day advantage would mean. The more aggressive ones do get more of the food, so a bird that is a couple days behind is at a real disadvantage.
It's funny but the first day you see them peeking out of the hole, is the day they will fledge. I have a lot of pictures taken as they made their first "leap of faith", and it is remarkable how quickly some of them will go, and how hesitant some can be. They must feel a bit like young paratrooper trainees, making their first real jump. I have learned that when they are perched in the opening, and you can see their tiny feet, they are committed and will usually fly in a matter of seconds. I had one change its mind, however, started to leap, and then at the last second, held on by one foot and eventually climbed back inside the box. Quite funny to see and I managed to photograph the entire episode. It might make another drama queen type poster, Mrs Ed.
Here's Papa on a shepherd's hook, wet but still on the lookout.
Oh my gosh. I take time away to do some "real" work like wash windows, and plant some grass seed, and I almost miss the boat. Mrs._Ed, you have the greatest sense of humor. I'm sitting here laughing, and crying with relief. I guess I'm a bonafide bird nerd now.
Dave's 4th & Rose's 6. Where is Rose anyway? Is she updating on a different thread? A lot of nail biting going on here. Sorry in advance to the nail salon folks; no point in going (truth be told I never get my nails done except sometimes in winter. Too dirty & trashed in spring, summer & fall!).
Dave, this is amazing. Thank you! Your pictures inspired me to finally decide on an approach to predator prevention (not sure how effective it is!) and get that bluebird house up.
Also, a few years ago when I first started birding, I had a little pamphlet that said that females need calcium from eggs. I now follow the directions and bake up some eggshells every Spring, and the birds seem to studiously avoid them. I've moved from spreading them on the ground where the groundfeeders are to mixing them with the feeder seed. Should I give it up?
I see I have a few questions to answer. First, still waiting for number four. I've all but given up.
Mrs Ed, your coffee cup ideas sound good to me. And both yours and OP's ideas are very good. The titmice are nesting again too so I may have some more intersting shots of them soon.
Muddy, check back a little later tonight. I will look for the file I hid those shots in.
Yes, Brenda, I do buy my mealworms. For the past 18 months or so I have gotten them from Sunshine in Oregon. I have been very satisfied but they just raised their prices so I may look for some place closer . There are several places in Ohio and I think one or two down your way. I think Bet Zimmerman has a list of web sites and/or phone numbers on her Sialis site. http://www.sialis.org/bluebirdstore.htm#mealworms
I don't expect to find them any cheaper, but maybe I can save on the shipping if they are closer to me.
And finally, Coo, I am sorry but I know very little about feeding eggshells. I only know when I look inside the box, another one has hatched and there are no eggshels in the nest and I watch very closely when she exits the box. Only once have I seen her carry part of a shell out of the nestbox, and that was several years ago.
OK, let me add a picture totally unrelated to all these comments but one you may find interesting if you like to see the detail of the feathers. This was a BB that fledged last year. Instead of flying to the tree as they usually do, he flew to the deck where I was standing. Directly toward me, in fact, and landed at my feet. The parents were going crazy. He then flew over to the window and clung to the screen for a few minutes, so this picture was taken when he was about 3 minutes out of the nestbox.
Here you see Papa has been hunting for tiny insects to feed the babies. When all else fails, they will pick out a smaller meal worm (I have a mixture of medium and large at this time) and they will break the worm down before taking it to the nestbox. In a few days the babies will be able to eat mealworms and the parents will load up and take mouthfulls to the nest. I am thinking of temporarily removing the roof of the box in a few days and mounting a camera directly above, to try to get some shots of them feeding the little ones.
Dave, Do you handle the babies and look for blowfly larvae like they show on the nabluebird.org site? That really intimidates me, as this is the first time for us. The first time we looked for eggs, we sang and made a little noise as we approached the nest box. Since there was no activity, I opened the front and almost got a face full of Mama bird. I closed the door and she stayed inside. Next day we waited for her to leave the box and we think there were four eggs. Purple Martins continue to fly over, land on, and look inside the unused box 2. Papa and Mama BB still protect box 2, hunt from it, hang from the door and look inside, until the martins get bored and go away, then they return to their normal activities.
No, I do not handle the babies. I did just once to return one to the nest after it had been removed by the new female. This is my tenth nesting and I've not seen any evidence of bowfly.
I guess we all have had the surprise of having Mama fly out when we were sure she was gone. I make lots of noise approaching and even peck on the side of the box and still, I have had her surprise me. I always stand to the side of the box when I open it.