Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bluebird Nestwatch, Day 47

Notes on 47th day after observing the bluebird mating behavior, and ten days after beginning formal observations of the resulting nest for one hour/day, not always at same time:

Mating behavior observed on Feb. 23rd.
Became aware of nest building in mid-March. 
Estimated egg laying date to be sometime during the last week of March.
Began formal nestwatch on April 2, several days after they showed signs of routine nest tending, described below. 
Pretty sure she's still sitting on eggs in the house, and has been for over ten days.
Can't hear tiny chirps yet. 
Hatch expected any day now, given the two-week incubation time reported for bluebirds. 
He comes to the feeder often and visits the nest in the green house regularly to relieve her.
His visits follow a pattern.
They have an impressive tag team operation going. 
No matter the hour of observation, I see pretty much the same routine:
All will be quiet when I arrive.
Then, at least once during my hour, sometimes twice, they follow this pattern:

1. Sooner or later he arrives on a nearby perch and watches for a few minutes. No singing. Just watching. He may move around between 5 or 6 favorite watch posts (different branches, one of three tall iron tulip sculptures, the basketball goal, the hummingbird hanger, or the top frame of the backyard swing).
2. Eventually he drops to the ground, pulls out a worm, and enters the house with it, if he doesn't already have one dangling from his beak when he arrives. 
3. He stays inside for all of 2 or 3 seconds, then emerges to one of his perches. Is his purpose to feed her? Wake her? Notify her of his arrival? All of the above?
4. In less than a minute after his short visit, she emerges and flies off. 
5. He hangs around while she's gone, moving from perch to perch, ever vigilant of the environs, but doesn't enter the house. 
6. She returns after a short away. I've timed her. Never gone more than seven minutes, or less than four.
7. Once she re-enters the house, he flies off and all is quiet again, until his next visit.
8. The latest I've observed this cycle is 7:00p. Then all goes long-time quiet, presumably for the night.  

I never hear him sing, now that the period of courtship is over. Both parents tend the nest in silence. If I weren't intentionally watching for them, I might never have noticed their presence.

Silence, that is, until a squirrel approaches the house from above or below. It doesn't happen often and not for long, because Mr. Bluebird chases them off with much dive-bombing and loud clicking. Whether it happens during one of her brief absences or when she's on the nest, he's there in a flash. Obviously he doesn't stray far, even when she's home.  

They are the model of elegant dependability in their habits, these bluebirds. I should take a lesson. dkm


Jane Robertson said...

Oh, I think I'm in love with Mr Blue. Such an attentive partner. The detailed observations are great Deb. It's something you really have to commit to.

dkm said...

Me too, Jane---starting with his polite (but pitiful) request for sex early on---
As for the commitment, I take a "longsit" outside most every day anyway---for my general health and wellbeing, and to see what i can see---so this is an easy commit---just had to change the location of my seat :-)

Vernon Rempel said...

I love your words "elegant dependability."

dkm said...

Thanks Vern---haha---never thought about that being an oxymoron---how cool---I guess when one is as quiet and beautiful as a bluebird, everything one does is elegant :-)
p.s. Are you still blogging---that is, have I missed some posts? Don't want to miss a single one!