Monday, February 25, 2013

"Bluebirds-They Carry The Blue Sky On Their Wings" Pt 1--



Howdy Folks,

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

8 comments:

  1. I just found you from my wife and daughter. I have had at least two pair of bluebirds in my yard for several years. My neighbors put up a bluebird nest but nobody came! I found "bluebird pellets" at the Tractor Supply Store and started a small wooden feeder with the pellets. Now every morning the bluebirds come to feast. (unfortunately the nuthatch, red-bellied woodpecker, house wren, and even blue-jays strip it clean by mid morning. What great fun. BTW, our little bluebirds are not so timid. I've seen them run off other birds at my seed house. Thanks for your posts. bj

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    1. That's wonderful, Bob! Thanks too for joining the Coffee Clutch! ... Bluebirds are primarily insect eaters, you might also enjoy buying mealworms to feed them. The other birds you get are also real treat! Do you offer black oil sunflower seeds and nyger seed & suet cakes too? You get great birds and would have a lot of fun! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  2. Thanks, pard. My monitor needed cleaning anyway... but I'm not sure that coffee was the cleanser I'd have preferred.

    Bliss and blessings!

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    1. Howdy Odee! ... Thanks for reading and sharing!

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  3. Your post brings back such fond memories for me, Dutch. A couple of years ago, in the middle of our front porch on the ceiling, we have a 4-inch curved red hook for bicycles. One day I saw a bunch of twigs and such hanging in the middle of the curve of the red rubber hook. I didn't think much about it until little by little it grew into a nest and we began to see a hummingbird hanging out there. She had two babies and we all got to watch them grow up until they flew away. I cried on the day they left. It was one of those experiences I will never ever forget. We left the nest up and it was never used by any other hummingbird, though we were told that might happen. Then we took it down because it was falling off. I saved it for my memory of those three hummies.
    Patti

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    1. Wow Patti! We have never seen a Hummingbird nest! What a treat! That was highly unusual as they like to nest secretly high in the trees. Good for you & what a wonderful memory!

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  4. There is something special about Bluebirds. Until I moved to Manassas, VA I never saw one in real life. We built a custom home in a wooded area and were entertained by so many birds I had never seen before. (Being a city girl we did not see woodpeckers, blue birds, or hawks) When my parents moved next door a year later they put up 2 bluebird houses in their backyard. We spent many hours sitting in their back breakfast nook (my mother and me) watching the birds and wondering which house they would choose to next in that year. I even made a little sign that said "Home for rent.. quality construction, great neighbors" on the house that they left vacant while using the other one that year. We set up a blue bird home in our own yard to see if any other bluebirds would come. I guess there was something special about my Dad and the way he would look over them.. check on them, feed them worms.. they never used our homes for nesting and no other birds came accept a wren family. When my father passed away two years ago, even though we kept the house for my mother who had dementia, for a year, but the blue birds never returned. Every year, I look out to see if they have returned to our yard even for a Sunday brunch..but no blue birds. I miss them and I miss my father. We have a hawk family that is connected with us.. and we enjoy watching the couple. Just the other day, the hawk came down to say hello.. sitting on a low branch gazing at me and contemplating his next move.

    Both are birds are beautiful and healing.. dynamically different and yet similar. Linda Nedilsky

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    1. What a sweet story Linda, Thanks for sharing!Your friend the hawk may be the reason you're not seeing too many birds, though... Regarding your only one Bluebird family at a time, they are very territorial and will not nest closer than about 300 feet of another pair. Also they are not real fond of nests near trees. Watch for more Bluebird talk tomorrow.~ Dutch

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