As you can see, I took the nest out of the box for this family portrait. It doesn't seem to cause any problems when I do this, but it makes me nervous, so I only do it once or twice.
Wow, the last few days have just flown by, and we are nearing the end of the baby bluebirds' first stage of life. Remember my first bluebird post this spring, when I said there were some times when it wasn't OK to open a nest box? Now, we come to the time when we have to stop open-box monitoring, Day 12.
It is blocking my good side."
All three of my bluebird references* advise not opening the nest box after the young are 12 days old. The concern here is that you may cause premature fledging. Once a baby jumps from the nest, it is nearly impossible to get it to stay there no matter how many times you put it back. I have never had a problem with premature fledging in bluebirds, but I nearly had a disaster with Purple Martins last summer. (Read about it here.)
*My bluebird references? First and foremost, "The Bluebird: How You Can Help Its Fight for Survival," by Lawrence Zeleney; Audubon Naturalist Library, copyright 1976, by Indiana University Press. I think this book is out of print now, which is too bad. Mr. Zeleny could easily be called the "father of bluebirding," and was (I think) the guy who invented the term "bluebird trail."
The "Stokes' Bluebird Book" is an excellent reference on the care and feeding of Eastern Bluebirds (also the Western and Mountain species get their own sections.) It follows the classic format of many of the Stokes' guides, and of course, has stunning photographs.
And last but not least, I have a little 30 page booklet called "Enjoying Bluebirds More." It was published in 1993, and I don't know how long I have owned my copy, but I'm sure it has been for at least 13 years. I pulled it out last year, because I remembered it had instructions on making a stovepipe pole baffle, and happened to notice the author's name: Julie Zickefoose. Huh, that lady seems to know a little bit about bluebirds. I'll bet she'll go far!