As I enjoyed Coffee Clutch with Kessy, Saturday and Tigger yesterday morning our resident male Bluebird landed treetop high, thrust his beak skyward and let go his beautiful trilling song. It was such a delight! I had just commented to Ravishin' Robbie I'd not seen nor heard from our Bluebirds for some time. And I missed them. Bluebirds are my very favorite birds. I love them all, but Bluebirds have the strongest grip on my heart.
|Adult male Eastern Bluebird|
Growing up as a foster kid on a dairy farm I had many duties that sent me off on my own with tasks and chores. One job that I really enjoyed was maintaining fence along the fields and pastures. It was a lovely farm in rural PA with rolling hills, streams and woods. The fence rows in those days were narrow lines of big trees, thick undercover brush and brambles. I would spend many happy hours trimming back the fence line, patching barbed wire and replacing rail and post, and learning about wildflowers, trees and birds.
A few fence lines ran straight through open fields far from trees and forest. It was a bright sunny, early spring day when I was about 12 that I saw my first Bluebird perched atop a leaning rickety post along one of those open field fence lines. I still remember that little fellow all shiny and blue proudly singing to the wide open world. It truly was love at first sight. I'd met other birds by then, a Bobwhite Quail had also sang for me one morning from a fencepost, and a Killdeer had performed its clever "broken wing" dance, luring me from its nest in the cornfield as I hoed thistles between the stalks. Small flocks of Meadow Larks had gathered near me in our far pasture one Sunday afternoon. Barn Swallows had nests in the lower part of the barn in the horse and cow stables. And our resident Barn Owls always watched quietly whenever I was upstairs in the big barn. As I recall, our old farm had plenty of mice for their family.
But something about that tiny Bluebird took hold of me that morning. I remember sitting down in the warm grass and watching him sing. I noticed then at the very next fence post a momma Bluebird was peeking out a hole in the weathered roundish wooden post, looking exactly like the many pictures we see now. Of course at first I didn't know it was a momma Bluebird. Thinking back I believe I thought it was a field mouse, but as I stood up it flew out. I do positively remember noting the different shade of blue she wore.
There was another first that day, I chuckle as I recall. I experienced my very first "swooping" by a pair of defending Bluebird parents. Being 12, and curious I just had to have a look in the hole of that old fencepost. Totally absorbed in examining and counting the 4 sky-blue eggs I never saw the attack coming! Suddenly a Bluebird flew past my face, I think his feathers touched me! At the same time momma whizzed behind me clicking her beak in a most threatening way. They continued to dive bomb me until I was well away from their nest.
For the next few weeks I kept a check on that little nest in the old post. The parents greeted me each visit with wing swooshing and beak clicking. I watched those blue eggs hatch into tiny pink, blind babies, and remember when they got their first feathers I saw them when they were nearly grown, fully feathered and beautiful. I remember the next time I visited they were gone. Years later I would learn that's called "fledging." ... I didn't know it then, but that was my first experience with "Bluebird nest box monitoring." I will tell you, I never, ever replaced that old post, and almost every summer there was a Bluebird family in it.
Please join us here tomorrow and I'll share some Bluebird Trail Monitoring tips I learned in my 25 years of volunteering for the PA DEP monitoring trails in State Parks.
Have a Bluebird day & Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry