Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Best Spectator Sport EVER

Uh-oh.  The housewrens are back, heard this morning for the first time this spring.  So---I take up my daily watch on behalf of the bluebird house.  I used to be a great fan of housewrens---for their bubbly song that accompanied every backyard day from April through October, and for their conspicuous nesting habits, which are easy to follow for an amateur birder.  They were one of the first species I paid close attention to when I began this blog.  Two springs ago I followed a housewren family in a daily nestwatch from the building of the nest to the fledging of the six young.  Thrilling it was to observe their maiden flights.  I had calculated, via some research, the exact day and hour of the first fledge, and sure enough, between 10 and 11 a.m. on their big day, as I had predicted, out they flew. My friend Barb and I had pulled up comfortable chaises and made a morning of it, each with a good book and a pair of binoculars  (see blogpost of July 22, 2009 titled The Thrill of the Fledge).

BUT---that was before the family bluebird came to this place.  Now my loyalties are divided. Twice the male housewren has run off the male bluebird, who had begun staking out the copper-roofed house.  And last year, even though the bluebirds got a head start before the return of the housewren, their nestlings never made it to fledge day.  We heard one day of tiny cheeping, then BAM! they were gone, way too early for them to have fledged without notice.

I can't really blame their disappearance on the housewrens (it was more likely a hawk, or a snake, or a cat), nonetheless I'm watching carefully.  Today marks Day 1 of Project Bluebird Protection.  Madam Bluebird is definitely tending eggs under the copper roof.  She peeks out often, for only a few seconds, then ducks back inside. Occasionally she leaves the house, but only for a minute or two, to bask in the sun on a nearby bare dogwood branch (dying tree).

Her beautiful blue-backed mate with proud orange chest is never far away.  I see him keeping watch, flying from perch to perch around the yard.  dkm


Anonymous said...

Oh no! Not the housewrens again. I hope you manage to fend them off.

Jane Robertson said...

Deb, I wish you luck with this mission and will look forward to regular posts about progress.

A tiny bird hit my house window the other day. Sometimes they recover, just momentarily stunned, but this one must have died on impact. I picked him (her?) up, beautifully intact, just some blood at the beak. What made me tearful were the little claws. Only a week previously I had rescued a bird from one of the cats. Despite its fright, its little claws curled tightly round my finger - such a touching thing. I felt sad that the claws of the little dead bird could no longer grasp.

dkm said...

What a lovely and heartbreaking story! The little claws---and yes, I know that feeling of little bird claws wrapped around finger---from the time I participated in a bird banding project. Touching ---both spiritually and literally. Something there is about the mystery and awe of the bird world . . . that we can't fully capture it. And thank goodness at least that one mystery is still preserved.