rural Albemarle County
Bluebirds are native, timid, and endangered here in the US. In order to continue my life’s mission of sustainability and education, four years ago I became a Bluebird Monitor. During the nesting season, I observe, serve, and promote the health and survival of this wonderful species.
The following photos were just taken this morning from inside my home, so please forgive the few slightly blurred images, yet I think it is important to record and blog about the very special relationship I developed with this particular pair. They nested here last year and I welcome them back with open arms and camera in hand. They do not feed here during the winter, and I celebrate their safe return from the wild.
Let’s return to the timid part—bluebirds frighten easily and nesting conditions must be just right for a pair to claim a box. Since I feed many other species of wild birds on my half-acre, placement of bluebird boxes is critical. Not too close, just the right size and angle, positioned on stand-alone posts just the right height off the ground, and goodness knows, plenty of predator guards.
I offer two boxes here and currently have a small feeding station set up in the Noel guard of one box—specifically for the blues. It is hidden from wrens, titmice, cardinals, and Mary Mockingbird, all of who adore the same sunflower seeds, currants and nuggets. Happily the bluebirds found this private feeder quickly, and chose the other box in which to nest. All this I learned by observation.
Another tidbit learned in recent years is, is about the nesting material. Bluebirds fancy pine needles here, yet with nearby cattle, the bluebirds are easily infested with blowfly parasites, which kill. I learned the hard way two years ago when I lost all but one nestling in an otherwise healthy brood. Blowfly apparently love pine needles, so last year I experimented with coir, a sustainable by-product of the coconut. It is cheap, clean, and nicely simulates pine.
coir nest built by moi when blowfly was detected in pine needle nest
I lined coir nest with raffia strips to prevent nestlings from tangling their nails in coir. From this nest the fledge was successful.
In spring I stock up on a few plant basket liners, and place shredded bits near the bird box when the female shows interest. This streamlines the female’s nest-building chore as the male does not help construct—he guards the process.
Can you imagine being a nesting bird who flies around large areas in order to return with just a few threads of nesting material per flight? Hundreds of trips must be made, using precious energy. While assisting in this process I feel such joy when through the glass, I observe a connection with this wild creature as she selects the coir and hops into the nearby nest box. Now for the photos taken within the hour:
this year’s scenario~
notice the coir tucked into the fence post
female bluebird making the connection, yay!
bluebird up on post ready to enter the box
there she goes!
male at private feeding station
Male guards while female grabs a snack~nest building takes energy!
Male bluebird checking out the nest-building process
Dear readers, I cannot begin to express the absolute glee—a kid in a candy store perhaps? Filled with hope, pride, and pure joy that I may share this small miracle with you.
If you host bluebirds in your gardens, please do not feed dry mealworms! Most of them are from China! Please order fresh (USA), live mealworms from www.grubco.com. They are easy to care for (just put them in a deep tray with oat bran and a few fresh romaine leaves) where they happily reside until plucked out (I use tweezers) and fed to appreciative birds. If readers have questions, please write to me through the comments link above…
I would be honored if you would continue to learn about my bluebird adventures by typing bluebird into the search bar on this page. There you may read previous posts and see photographs of this miraculous process. If, per chance, I inspire you to become a Bluebird Monitor, please type suggested reading into my search bar to learn titles of the essential publications supporting this incredible bird. Also one of my followers a great source of information and her blog may be found at http://woolwinehousebluebirdtrail.com/
Check it out and get inspired!
Copyright © 2013 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved