Bluebird Summer

by Kevin Shank | Apr 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Eastern Bluebird in eastern redbud tree
Eastern Bluebird. Photo © Steve Byland/

One beautiful spring morning, I noticed a pair of bluebirds checking out the wren house on our deck. They flitted in front of the hole and tried to squeeze through, but to no avail.

A couple of days later, I again noticed the pair trying to squeeze through the entrance. They really must be desperate for a house to raise their nestlings in, I mused.

A week later, I nailed a bluebird house about 6 feet (2 m) from the wren house and hoped they would find it. Soon I heard their melodious chattering by the deck. Quickly I hurried to my bedroom window and looked out. Sure enough, they were in the blooming redbud tree checking out the wren house again.

Will they see the house on the next post or not? I wondered anxiously. Suddenly the male flew to a branch near the new house and started warbling excitedly. His mate flew to his side and eyed the house suspiciously, then flew away. The male followed her, chattering all along.

Hopefully I waited, and soon they were both back. The female flew to the hole, looked in, then disappeared. After a moment, she popped out, and they flew away.

The next day the pair was hard at work. The male brought most of the nesting material, while the female arranged it inside. In about a week the nest was finished, and I didn’t see the pair for awhile. Did something happen? I worried.

Then one morning, I saw the female fly out of the box. Excitedly I lifted the lid. Yes, there were three eggs. Several days after that, I noticed the male bringing food to the hole. I guessed that she had started setting.

Finally the glorious day arrived! The pair flew back and forth bringing little insects to their helpless nestlings. I checked them every several days, amazed at how fast they grew. Soon they were fully feathered. Two had shiny blue feathers among their gray ones; the other two were just a smoky gray.

Another week passed, and the nest box was empty. A month passed without seeing much of the bluebirds. Then one morning the pair was back, and they busily added fresh nesting material to their old nest.

Again four eggs were diligently kept warm, and the sequence was repeated. Yet again, the nest box sat empty.

About a month later the pair was back a third time. The female laid three eggs; then they were gone. I opened the box and cleaned out the soiled material and eggs. I was disappointed that she didn’t complete a third nesting, but I hope to see them next spring.

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