Sunday, May 7, 2023

The babies are about to leave!

For the past couple of weeks, we've been watching a nesting box in our backyard. It's hung on a huge Pine tree, about 4 feet off the ground. Inside the box are 5 baby Bluebirds.

One of the things we loved when we moved here was the fact that our home was surrounded by all sorts of trees. Living on a wooded lot, we've enjoyed all sorts of wildlife everything from tiny Hummingbirds to majestic deer, but the thing we enjoy most of all is when the Bluebirds come. 

Every year, around the end of April, a nest of pine straw begins to form in the nesting boxes we've put out. Slowly and methodically, the mother bird carries bits of straw, twigs, dryer lint, and even hair from recent haircuts. We try to leave a few bits near the base of the trees to help her out. 

Sleepy babies

After the nest is built, she'll sit there and lay her eggs while the male Bluebird brings her worms to eat. We don't disturb her when she's on the eggs. When we see her flying out to go get her own food, we know the babies have either just hatched out or are about to. 

From that point on, we watch and wait. About 2 weeks in, we start closely monitoring the nest. I watch to make sure the parents are away hunting food and gently lift the front door to the nesting box. As I peek in, I can see the growth of the babies and compare it to a chart I have that tells me about how old they are. I snap a quick photo and close the door. From what I've read, Bluebirds don't have a keen sense of smell so I can do this without upsetting them. I never touch the babies or the nest though, just in case.

As the babies grow and change, they begin to get more and more feathers. They start out a dark gray color and eventually start getting a bluish tint. Most of the time the babies are sleeping when I check on them, but occasionally, they'll have their eyes wide open waiting on Mama's latest catch to appear. 

Alert and waiting on Mama to feed them

They're so cute! I really want to pick one up and hold it, but know I can't. 

Bluebirds are only in the nesting box about 19-20 days, so these little ones are just about ready to fledge. Mama bird will come to the front of the nesting box and begin coaxing them out. One by one, they'll ease out and fly down to the ground. After their wings get a little stronger and the baby a little bolder, it will fly up to a low hanging branch and wait for the mother to coax it on its journey. 

I've been able to capture that with past broods and hope to with this one as well. 

It kind of makes me sad to see them go. It feels almost like it did when my kids were growing up. I knew one day they'd leave, but I didn't want them to. I wanted to keep them with me forever, but that's not healthy. Our job is to give them roots and wings. 

I'm on high alert for the rest of today, tomorrow, and the next day. I'm pretty sure I've gotten the timing right and the babies will be leaving no later than Tuesday. I'll keep you posted! 


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