Thursday, April 24, 2008

Baby Bluebirds: Last Photos

Bluebird fans, these will be the last pictures of the first clutch of 2008. So, drink in these images, there will be no new bluebird photos for a while. (Read on for the reason why.)

Nine days old and 5 nestling bluebirds hide their faces,
hoping I won't notice them.

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.

"Has she gone yet?"

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.

Day 11, and they are looking more like birds.
"Get this piece of grass out of my face.
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.)

12 days old, a touch of blue in the wings
"Fledge well and prosper, little ones."

*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!


Mary C said...

Thanks, Kat Doc for the update. Do you think you'll see the fledglings around your yard before they take off for good? If so, I sure hope you'll be able to take a few more photos. Happy trails, little ones.

KGMom said...

Whew--I had a moment's frantic fear, when you said no more updates. I pictured some catastrophe.
Thank goodness it is only the prudence of no more open box monitoring.
I have enjoyed the bluebird saga.

Anonymous said...

*Sniff, sniff* They grow up so fast!

Then you have the human fledglings that are pretty content in the ol' family nest, as long as mom's doing the housekeeping and stuffing food down their throats....