Monday, July 28, 2008

More Bluebird Nesting Surprises

As I mentioned last week, bluebirds have nested here on the grounds of John's sculpture restoration and repair studio for at least the past 12 years. For the last few years we've hosted the birds for three nestings each year in one of the Louisianna cypress and Gulf barnacle bird houses similar to the one on our back deck being used by the wren family I mentioned on June 16. This year however, when the parents came back for their second nesting they seemed unsettled. They went in and out of the barnacle house but at the same time spent as much time exploring a house on our porch made by our friend Lyle. It seemed like something was not quite right with the barnacle house and that possibly they were looking for a new location. Sure enough, after a week of going back and forth they finally settled into the porch house and the picture shows Dad getting ready to enter the house during the consturction phase of the nest a couple weeks ago. At this point in time they seem to be sitting on eggs so we're glad that at least they are settled though we are still perplexed as to why they did not select the usual locaiton.
Of course one possibility is that there is a broken egg in the old nest or possibly it had gotten infested with mites. We will wait another week or so to check in the box for this sort of problem and try to resolve it. In the mean time my theory is that I planted my mammouth sunflowers a little too close to the front of the nest. At the time the birds were checking it out the plants were only a few feet tall but now they are over 5 feet tall and completely block the entrance. Birds and other animals seem to have instincts for things like this and I believe it is one of those cases where they just knew the plants might be a future liability - a way for predators to gain access to the nest and also hamper their own view of the nest and quick entrance and entry into their home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bluebirds Find "Apartments" for their Babies

In central Missouri bluebirds are well into their second nesting and at MasterWorks Studios we have been blessed with bluebirds nesting in various places on our property since we moved to the area twelve years ago. Especially enjoyable is a pair that selects a spot in the corner of our vegetable garden where this "barnacle house" is posted. The birds do overwinter in the area but we don't start seeing them on a regular basis until March or April when they start making irregular visits to the house to claim it as their official spot for each upcoming season. By mid April they are usually starting to build thier nest and by sometime in May they are busy sitting on eggs and eventually feeding babies. Some years we have been lucky enough to see the sweet little baby heads peek out before their first flight out of the nest but this year this first group must have been a strong little flock. Before we knew it they were up in trees testing their wings and discovering the big world while all the time staying close to Mom & Dad in hopes of keeping their regular insect "deliveries". Bluebird parents are very serious though about the cutting apron strings and getting started on second and third nestings each season. They can sometimes be what seems a little rude to their young as they chase them away after teaching them all the required survival skills.

This year however John observed a different twist on the routine. From his shop window he could observe this gourd house we had put up over the winter and for several days noticed bluebird activity. We assumed a new pair of birds were about to start a nest but after closer observation realized it was the same pair from our garden site luring their young to the shelter as if trying to find them a little "apartment" where they could feel safe and rest - a little "home away from home". The babies actually did go in a couple times while Mom and Dad went ahead with their second nesting back at the house.
Next week: More Bluebird Nesting Surprises