Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bluebird Nestwatch 2016, Day 40

Bluebirds are in the house, the result of courtship behavior reported in last post. So I begin a formal daily watch of the new green bluebird house on the loblolly pine trunk in the backyard. New last year, that is, but nobody nested in it, presumably due to the squirrel that sat on the roof all the time, twirling and nibbling an acorn in its paws, like it thought Moe Miller installed a well-supported shelf on the tree just for him—or her.

But this year—oh lovely this—the bluebirds, early nesters that they are, beat him to it. Not to be trifled with, Mr. Blue makes a loud clicking sound and dive bombs any squirrel that comes near. Mild mannered bluebirds, come to find out, are as fiercely protective as any species when threatened, but otherwise are more secretive in their nesting habits than the gregarious housewrens of years past.  While Mr. Housewren sings his bubbly heart out from a nearby perch throughout the nesting cycle,  Mr. Blue sings his quiet murmury song only during courtship. Then once he and his mate settle on their home of choice, they get to work building their nest, and he stops singing. Between the bluebirds' quiet ways and my pre-occupation with other activities, I almost forgot about them this year, until I noticed, mid-March, a few silent comings and goings to and from the new house with small pieces of nesting material in their beaks—mostly moss, I think.

By now she is definitely sitting on eggs, which must be nearing hatch date, considering he's been protecting the house for days, quietly hanging around on nearby perches, bringing her sustenance, or scaring off squirrels. She occasionally comes to the doorway for longing looks into the world and flies out for short periods, but mostly I see only him. One of his favorite perches is the basketball backboard.

Notice the fallen cherry blossoms, too.  Gorgeous this year. 
Not exactly sure where in the chronology of the nest they are. I know from past watches, bluebirds require about two weeks from laying date to hatching date---and about two more weeks to fledge date.  What I don't know is how long from courtship to egg day. Since I was lucky enough to witness their polite mating behavior on Feb 23, which I'll call Day 1, I should be able to count backwards from the eventual fledge day to learn the answer to that question. I could find out online, no doubt, but it's ever so much more fun to discover it via my own daily observations.  I'm 39 days late to the party, but I begin the watch today. I'll report back. dkm


Vernon Rempel said...

Thanks for these posts, Debbie. I love the blue of the little bird and the mystical cherry-blossom carpet.

Jane Robertson said...

So, so blue! I would give much to be able to watch this family. I'm truly envious Deb.

dkm said...

Thank you for reading them, Vern! The cherry blossoms have been beyond description this year--- little wind on the days of the "fall"---hence that concentrated carpet under the trees---I sat outside on those days, attempting to write a post about the beauty of being in the midst of the clouds of petals falling around and on me---like snow, but warm and dry and velvety---could not capture the mood so I didn't post it :-(

dkm said...

Jane, I feel the same way about the blueness---and never get tired of watching him---the female, too, though she is more gray than blue.

I'm still thinking about all the endemic to New Zealand birds we saw on our trip---especially the colorful kereru---58 lifers for my list in one month's time---birds i may never see again---unless Donald Trump gets elected, in which case, I would seriously consider moving to New Zealand!!!!!!!

Vern, what's the mood in Colorado about that man?