Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bluebird Dilemma #2 and Cardinals in Love

After the premature and silent disappearance of the first bluebird family from the copper-roofed birdhouse in the corner of the backyard, M and I debated the wisdom of removing the abandoned nest or leaving it undisturbed---not knowing which would best invite the bluebirds to try again and most discourage the house wrens from setting up shop in place of the bluebirds. We decided in favor of removing it, thinking it might harbor bad memories for the bluebirds, and if left, might be precisely what the house wrens wanted, since we think they are who ran the bluebirds off in the first place.

We still don't know if we made the right choice, but yesterday, the male bluebird, who has continued to come and go around the yard, investigated two houses---a smaller one in the front part of the yard, and his first copper-topped home. He showed a definite preference for his first house. As I observed him in and out of its doorway, sure enough, appeared the female. For many long minutes they engaged in the same coy teasing and copying behavior observed in my March 19 blogpost, he on the house, she on the nearby trellis, before offing into the woods. I'm hopeful.

Even as I write about the bluebirds, I think a pair of cardinals are mating in the azalea bushes behind the birdhouse. I hear a low and urgent chip chip chip chip of a different character than most cardinal sounds, and see them both hopping around in the azaleas in a she-said-he-said sort of a chase.

It might be the same pair that nested last year in the overgrown confederate jasmine vine on the trellis by the birdhouse. I pruned that vine severely this winter, and was afraid the pruning would discourage the cardinals' return, so I'm glad to see them back. The jasmine is too bare to protect a nest this year, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for a nest in the azaleas now, and a return to the jasmine in 2011. dkm


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad the bluebirds came back and I hope they get a chance to make a nest. Those house wrens sound rather naughty! Do they use the houses themselves or just go out of their way to stop the bluebirds using them?

dkm said...

Definitely naughty! Love the NZ sound of that :-)

I'd like to think they're not so cutthroat as to run them off for the sport of it---that at least they intend to use the house---but in two successive years they've run off bluebirds and have not nested there themselves.

I wonder why the bluebirds don't defend themselves. They are twice the size of the tiny wrens.

One book says a male house wren advertises several prime nesting locations in an attempt to attract a female, then settles in the one she selects. The female holds the final authority :-) Thus it has ever been, right?