I am always on the lookout for seasonal props. I just got this clover-shaped bowl in anticipation of St. Patty's Day. Very limited success so far, since it is very slick and the birds slip and slide when they perch on the sides and also it is a bit too deep so they wind up jumping into it which is cute but doesn't give me the picture I am looking for.
Oh, sure they do. Especially when they are defending their nest box.
But I'm sure you realize she wasn't wing waving in these shots. She was twisting and turning, even rubbing herself on the warm railing, trying to dry off as quickly as she could. In some shots you could barely tell she was a bluebird. Like so.
I've had some bluebirds checking out my nesting boxes and the other day I saw these two males displaying for each other, or so it seemed. One was perched in a sycamore tree and the other was on a utilility line just a few feet away. They did not look happy! I apologize in advance for the lack of quality in these pictures.
I guess house hunting is happening almost everywhere these days. I hear reports the BBs are already nest building as far north as Georgia. Not quite here as yet, since winter is not over and I would hate to see the blues start too soon, only to lose a clutch in the cold. I expect it will be another month before mine really get serious.
But Papa has chased away the youngsters that stayed around over the winter. However, they keep coming back. And he keeps chasing them when he is not chasing house sparrows that are very interested in "his" house. Not surprising they would keep hanging around since food is still scarce and will be for a month or so when insects start moving around. This is the time the blues should be subsisting on berries but the mockers and the starlings have cleaned all the fruits and berries off the trees and shrubs.
I have been wanting to get some better pictures of the blues in the snow but we have had very little of it this year. Here are a few shots from back on Jan 27.
I have been thinking for a time that I would like to try one of the Kentucky style nestboxes that feature an opening that is slotted rather than round. Some say they are less attractive to house sparrows. I also wanted to get a nestbox camera so I could monitor without going out to the box everytime. I ordered the slotted box but when I tried to install the nest cam I found the pitch of the roof was not steep enough to allow the camera to be tucked up out of the way and the bird would likely bang into the camera each time it flew into the box.
My old traditional style box with the 1 1/2 inch round opening was beginning to fall apart. The back board was split top to bottom and the front part was badly warped . But the roof pitch was sufficient to allow clearance for the little camera. So I went to Lowe's and got a one inch white cedar board, took the old nest box apart, copied each piece and cut it with my table saw. I took down the slotted box, put up the box I made and the blues didn't seem to know- or care about the difference.
But still I was not satisfied. I really wanted to try that slotted style opening. So I removed the door, cut a new board of the same width and installed it on the box, dropping it down far enough to leave a slot across the top.
And still, the birds don't seem to mind.
I still have the door with the round opening and can change back in a few minutes if I run into a problem.
No, Pelle, I am not bothered by house wrens, thankfully. Lots of Carolina wrens, but they are no problem for the blues.
And no Marna, I probably won't put the Gilbertson up. I only have room for one box and I don't know if I could mount the bird cam in the Gilbertson. To be honest, I think it would be so cute to have a picture of two or more of the nestlings, side by side, peeking out of the slotted box on fledge day.
No, not yet, Rose, and I am really glad they aren't. One of the hardest things I have done was to remove a nest after she sat on it for 20-some days. (As you know they should hatch on the 13th day). That happened 2 years ago after we had an early Spring, followed by an unexpected week-long freeze. Five eggs never hatched.
Weather is starting to warm up here. 50 degrees today and they expect high 70's Saturday and Sunday. A lot of the snow is gone already.
I'm not complaining but I do have a bunch of house sparrows to deal with.
I'd been trying to get pics of the bluebirds sitting on this post with the new growth of this tree in the foreground because I loved the colors but my camera couldn't seem to focus on both, so the birds came out blurry but this one isn't quite as blurry as the others. I have a few that are checking out nesting boxes again now that the temps are getting warmer
It really is a nice setting, CBL. I personally wouldn't worry about getting everything in focus. With a point and shoot camera you are limited as to how much you can control things like the depth of field. So much will depend on available light, how far you are from the subject and how much zoom you use.
I look at it this way: If you are shooting a picture of the bird, make sure it is in focus. Everything else will then complement the subject. The slightly blurred leaves will serve to draw your eye to the part of the picture that is in focus. If the leaves are too overpowering, crop it a bit to where they create a nice frame around your principal subject.
Of course, this photography stuff is totally subjective. I personally try to eliminate most of the surrounding distractions. As a result, my pictures tend to look like something from a bird book. But that's just me and I am OK with that. If the bird I am shooting is in the cherry tree with a cherry in its mouth, I may back off and let you see more of the tree; maybe even some cherries still hanging on the tree. But the final presentation will be created by editing: sharpening, lightening, cropping etc. Rarely if ever am I satisfied with an image as it comes out of the camera.
Well, after a significant layoff (from posting, not photographing), I will revive this thread and bring you up to date on my pair.
Earlier in this thread, on Feb 21, in fact, Mrs Ed asked if I was going to put up the Gilbertson PVC box I have had for many years but have never used. I told her no because I wanted to see how the blues would respond to the slotted opening I had installed in my regular box, and also because I had just installed the nest cam in the slotted box.
A few days later, when I was certain the blues would nest in the slotted box, I decided to put up the Gilbertson too, in hopes that the chickadees or the titmice would nest in it. The only place available was just outside the kitchen window. Much too close to the house for bluebirds, but I hoped the dees wouldn't mind.
As soon as I put the PVC model up (and I mean within 5 minutes), Papa went to check it out. And he fell in love with it! He would go inside for a few seconds, then come out, perch on the roof, then go back inside. He kept this up for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, all day long. Mama was still perching on the wooden box. He would go get her and bring her to the PVC model. After about a week of this, she built her nest in the PVC house, although to this day they still will not allow anyone else near the wooden box, either.
I had installed the nest cam in the wooden box and had even buried the cable leading back to the basement where I had it hooked up to a TV. I wanted to move the nest cam to the Gilbertson PVC but it is so small inside I feared the birds would hit the camera when they entered the box. Some one suggested I cut a hole in the roof, which I did, and aimed the camera down through the hole. I covered the camera and the hole with a 3 inch PVC cap and caulked around it to hopefully keep the rain out. It looks pretty sloppy but it seems to be OK. There are five eggs and she has been incubating since this past Sunday. Through the nest cam the inside of the nest box looks very small. It should be pretty crowded when the five of the nestlings start jumping around flapping their wings.
This first shot is of Mama in the nest box. I appologize for the lack of quality but it is a dark day.
No Marna. I haven't even tried. The picture quality is poor and there is not enough light in there to even give the eggs color. I am not big on videos and besides, I don't have time right now to figure out how to hook up the VCR. It is worth it just to be able to check things out without going out there, disturbing her and taking the box down.
No matter what, I plan to take it down after this nesting. Hopefully they will just move to the slotted box for their second.
And they say HOSP don't like it because the inside isn't big enough or deep enough for them. I watch it very closely and I haven't seen any HOSP around it yet. But wait til the summer. My neighbor is raising a flock of them and they will be looking for anything to nest in.
It seemed that my bluebirds had left for a time because of a stray cat hanging around but I saw a female coming out of one of my nest boxes so my hopes are once again bolstered that i will have some baby blues before long. Here's a pic of Daddy BB in the tip top of a tree.
ducbucln, In the shot you liked with Papa leaving with mealworms I was about 15 feet away. In most of my shots I am closer than 10 feet, so close I have to step back to get all of the bird in the frame. Lets you get some amazing detail, but at that distance, its very hard to catch them in flight. In a split second they are out of the frame. Or at least, part of them is. You get a lot of stuff like this one, which is a throw away.
But if I keep trying I sometimes get a good one. They give very little warning as to when they are about to fly, or in which directon they are likely to go. I took 67 shots of him perched before I got this one.
What a treat-----all these fabulous blue bird pictures! Thank you so much for sharing. I now have a blue bird nest with 4 eggs in it----and hoping for more.
I have had trouble over the years with critters getting into my box. Finally I learned to put a metal baffle on the post to keep out raccoons-----but snakes some times managed to get in. Soooooo, I have a great remedy for them-------since I am plagued with deer I bought deer netting at Lowe's ($15 for 100 feet). It is very light weight and almost invisible. When it was in a pile on the ground I noticed that snakes kept getting caught in it----------so,if you twist a piece of this at the base of the pole, you will never have a snake in your box. How you dispose of the snake is left up to you ( I normally use a hoe and then dispose of that piece of netting.
shirleyd,lucky you ,eggs already,i just put up a bluebird box,but its snowy today ,they were cking out other houses during some nice weather we were having a week or two ago,my friend also hoes snakes,lol
I already have two pairs of Eastern Bluebirds beginning to be " territorial' around two separate boxes. I am a member of a BB Trail and we collectively monitor some 300 boxes. Several of our group are reporting the same territorial behavior on their trail segments.
BTW, out trail is located in central Alabama, where Wednesday's low will be a balmy 19 degrees.
Well, I've been out of touch for way too many years! Absolutely enjoyed your bb photos Cousin Dave. I look forward to seeing current ones. It's April 5th here in Buffalo, NY and 37 degrees - I usually have my boxes up by now with tree swallows and blue birds viewing them. But, as you can see we're getting snow today. I haven't even heard blue birds yet. Although I know some do stay through the winter. This was a particularly cold season and I'm sure hard on the bird population.