Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bluebirds of Happiness



Doesn't Silas look happy? He has just entered an entirely different world. No longer is he confined to his safe and comfortable nest box, snuggled up with his siblings. The outside world, viewed through the entrance holes, was alluring and exciting as Silas waited for his parents to deliver meals. Instead, now he is balanced awkwardly on a branch, and the outside world comes up short of his expectations. The sun glares into his eyes, other birds stare at him and seem to laugh, and that big two-legged thing is standing over there...

Silas may not have been happy, but I was. I had spent a long time building the box, pounding and sawing and painting in the sweltering garage. I had watched as the female bluebird built the nest, I had checked on the eggs in the nest, and I had monitored the progress of the babies' growth. Now those babies were leaving the nest, to grow into adult bluebirds. Hopefully, some will stick around and use the vacant boxes next year. Silas could fly strongly, despite the fact that he was fresh out of the nest. However, he spent most of his time hunched over on the branch, peeping pitifully for food. Here's another photo of him, in which he looks somewhat less grumpy.



Silas's parents were hanging around, feeding and watching over not only Silas but also his siblings who were still peering curiously from the entrance holes of the nest box. I was standing a fair distance away, digiscoping the bluebirds; anyone walking along the sidewalk (which passes close to the box) would receive fierce dive-bombings from the adults. Here's a shot of the female, watching for insects to feed to the babies.



I was very surprised to see the young from the previous brood helping the parents feed the babies. I had noticed them hanging around during the incubation period, but I assumed they were teenagers bumming around in hopes of a handout. There were three, still sporting their baby spots (young bluebirds are mostly brown with pale spots). However, their tails have grown in (notice Silas's stumpy tail) and they have lost their fuzzy appearance. I know that other species of young birds (scrub-jays, among others) give their parents a hand with other broods, but I've never heard of bluebirds doing this. Strange. I guess you learn something new every day...

1 comment:

Bosque Bill said...

Thanks for the continuing saga!