Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Noisy New Nestlings Blue

Noisy noisy noisy!  The bluebird hatchlings are growing at a rapid rate. I'm afraid to look inside for fear of scaring them into fledging early---but you should hear them when Madame or Sir arrive at their doorway with a feeding.

At first, they were silent, and the parents came and went less frequently.   On about day four, I could hear faint chirpy murmurings from inside the nest if I put my ear to it, but could hear nothing from a short distance.  Both parents took turns entering and leaving the house with morsels.  In thirty minutes they could be observed coming and going two or three times.

Now, on day 10, it's a constant parade of Madame and Sir taking turns bringing food to the door.  The nestlings must be much taller and more aggressive by now, because the parents no longer enter the house to feed them.  They only perch on the doorway,  hand off their offerings, then fly off to find more. The nestlings make such a clamor when either of their parents arrive at their doorway, I can hear them from the swing---even from the house, if the windows are open---my house, not theirs---which is maybe 50 yards away.

Thankfully, I'm not responsible for feeding these babies.  They are running their faithful parents ragged.  Occasionally I see Sir carry off a white vitamin shaped capsule, which I think is a fecal sac.  Cleaning the bathroom.  I remember watching Father Housewren do the same another year.  Even saw him swallow it once.  Probably quite nutritious.  I can see why they might have to eat the fecal sacs.  They have no time to find food for themselves, so busy are they kept feeding their demanding brood.  dkm

Will try to get a picture of the nestlings for next post---just one peek.   Must get it before Day 13, says the North American Bluebird Society.   Here's what else NABS says about monitoring bluebird nest boxes, if you're interested, but I can assure you, I'll not be handling the chicks:


WHY MONITOR YOUR NEST BOX?

It is very important that bluebird nest boxes be actively monitored (checked) at least once a week. Doing so increases the chances of success for bluebirds using the box and also is valuable for determining population trends. A box that is not monitored may be more harmful than helpful to bluebirds. All bluebird boxes should be built so that they can be opened either from the side, front, or top.
Monitoring nest boxes will alert you to problems the birds may be having with blowfly parasitism. Uncontrolled, the larvae of this species may weaken or possibly even kill the nestling bluebirds. If you identify larvae in the nest, you should replace all the nest material with dried lawn clippings in a shape similar to that of the original nest. This will increase the chance that the chicks will survive. Many bluebird enthusiasts replace all nests holding chicks periodically even before the blowfly larvae are visible. You should also replace any nest with young birds that has been saturated following rainfall. This is especially important during cold periods.
Being aware of what species is using the box is also beneficial. Bluebird societies would like you to monitor and report all species using your nest boxes, not just bluebirds. Species such as bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, and chickadees are all native and beneficial birds. Mail survey forms submitted at the end of the nesting season allows the identification of population trends in each species.
House (English) sparrows and European starlings are non-native species introduced from Europe and their aggressive seizure of cavity nest sites is the main reason for the rarity of bluebirds today. Starlings nest in many of the natural nest sites but can be excluded from nest boxes by only using 1 1/2 or 1 9/16 inch entrance holes. House sparrows can readily enter bluebird nest boxes and frequently kill bluebirds, destroy their eggs, or drive them from their nests. At no time should they be allowed to successfully nest in bluebird boxes. Doing so will increase the house sparrow population and further reduce the number of the bluebirds.
After any nesting effort has ended, either due to nest failure or successful fledging of the young, the nest should be removed from the box. If a bluebird nest was successful, re-nesting in the same box will be encouraged if the first nest is removed. This should be done when all chicks have left the nest.


WHAT TO MONITOR

Whenever you monitor a box you should determine what species is using it by examining the nesting material and eggs. You should record the date, and the number of eggs or young that you have observed. Knowing when the eggs where laid will help you determine if they are infertile, or when they should hatch and when the young would be expected to leave the nest. In the case of bluebirds, the eggs are laid one each day until the entire clutch is complete. Incubation will then begin and will last approximately 13-14 days. After hatching the chicks will remain in the nest for 17-18 days. Your monitoring should be limited to viewing from a distance after the 13th day or the chicks might fly from the box prematurely.


HOW TO MONITOR

Nest monitoring should only be done during calm, mild, and dry weather conditions to reduce the chance of chilling the chicks or eggs. Open the nest box being careful not to allow the eggs to fall out or chicks to jump out. Songbirds have a very poor sense of smell and will not abandon the nest due to your handling the nest, eggs, or chicks. If chicks are in the nest, look under the nest for signs of blowfly larvae. The chicks themselves should be examined for small scars, particularly under the wings which indicates blowfly parasitism. Sometimes you may observe the larvae attached to the chick. These are easily removed by hand. Complete the monitoring as quickly as possible to minimize disturbance. When handling the chicks or removing them from the nest they should be placed in something that will protect them from the sun or wind while preventing their escape. Avoid disposing used nest material near the nest site or predators may be attracted to the site. Always be certain to close the box door securely before leaving. Record what you observed.



 

32 comments:

Niki said...

Damn blowflys. We have trouble with flystrike on sheep. I hope you get a photo of the babies. How lovely :) hehe I would just have to give one a kiss. :)

Jane Robertson said...

Oh, poor parents! I always feel for those sad, bedraggled birds that you see at the end of a season - as you so rightly say 'run ragged'. And it never occurred to me that, of course, the bigger the chicks grow, the more feeding is required.

Only a parent bird could love something that is so all mouth and noise :-)

Lucy Adams said...

I happened upon your blog. Actually I skipped over from Niki's. I'm from Georgia, too. Thought I'd say "Hey."

Lucy

Mike B. said...

Very cool! I wish we had bluebirds nesting here. We've had robins and chickadees in the backyard nesting before. I hope to see them soon at least checking the houses out.

Niki said...

I definately do not want to kiss the grub! haha. It's funny you should ask,because I said to Geoff about how it gripped my palm hard with its jaws and imagine what it would have felt like if it got hold of my lip.

Niki said...

Hi Deb, are you ok? Heard tornado in Georgia. XX

dkm said...

Thank you much for asking, Niki---yes, we are fine---the tornados went north of us, hitting pretty hard in North Georgia---but nothing like in Alabama---where my brother's family lives---all in his family are well---but they have amazing stories to tell---my niece and her husband spent the night in the closet---we only had high winds and a lot of twigs and small branches down.
I feared for my bluebirds, but they are alive and hungry!

Nicole said...

Very demanding schedule to observe them. But yours seem to do fine, I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Yes, a demanding brood to their parents indeed.
:)

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