Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baby Bluebirds

I like to check my bluebirds daily while they are nesting. For one thing, it is important to monitor for problems, like predators or parasites. But mostly, it is just plain fun to watch the wee ones grow. There are a couple of "no-no" times to monitor your cavity nesting birds, though. I never nest check early in the morning or late at night, or in cold or wet weather. I don't want to chance spooking Mama off her nest and leaving the babies alone for too long when they are so tiny. That's why no pictures from the first two days of their life. It has been pretty cold, and I haven't been home during daylight hours.

These rules might be different for different species (or different people.) If I had chickadees, which I don't right now, I wouldn't do open-box checks at all. In my limited experience with chickadees, they are a lot spookier than bluebirds and more easily frightened away from the nest site. Tree swallows, on the other hand, are fearless, and will dive-bomb you while you are doing nest checks. Some people even report the female sitting tight to the nest and not leaving, even after the box is opened. I never worry about scaring the tree swallows away!

Here is my current crop of Eastern Bluebirds:

April 15, 3 days old

April 16, 4 days old
Can you see the ear openings just behind the eyes?

To answer Susan's question from the last bluebird post, no, the single egg in that photo wasn't a dud. Depending on what time I check the nest during Hatching Day, I might have 1, 2, 3, or even 4 unhatched eggs, waiting their turn. Usually, most eggs hatch in the same 24 hour period, but I have had one egg go a day longer a couple of times, and once I even had an egg hatch 3 days after the rest of the clutch, just as I was thinking about tossing it out. The runt struggled to keep up, and fledged a day later than his buddies, but he made it in the end.

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