by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

Bluebird Update 5.7.13

May 9th, 2013

The heavy rain and chilly nights of the past several days seems to have had little effect on the chickadees and bluebirds that are nesting on our Bluebird Trail here at the Museum. All occupants of our nest boxes seem to be doing well, even flourishing.

The bluebird nestlings in the “Cow Pasture” nest seem about ready to fledge. It’s difficult to see exactly how many nestlings are crowded into that nest but it appears as though there are four. The nest had five eggs when incubation began. It appeared as though all the eggs hatched when I inspected the box last week, but it now looks like there are four nestlings present. I don’t like to poke around too much inside the nest, not at all in fact, so it’s sometimes a guessing game as to just how many birds are in the nest.

These bluebirds should be ready to go by next week (5/7/13).

Looking more like chickadees every day, the birds in the nest next to the Bungee Jump will probably depart sometime this week. I’ll probably see these birds following their parents around the woods later this week taking lessons on how to feed themselves.

It won’t be long before these birds leave the nest at the Bungee Jump (5/7/13).

The chickadees who have chosen to nest in the nest box behind the Sail Boat Pond apparently have worked something out with the House Wren and the Bumble Bee that had been delaying this nest’s progress over the past several weeks. The bee is gone, the House Wren moved on to hassle some other cavity nesting birds and the chickadees have deposited four eggs in the nest. I suspect that there will be a few more eggs by next week’s inspection.

Four new eggs for the chickadees at the Sail Boat Pond (5/7/13).

Ready and waiting for a new nest to begin (5/7/13).

Not much to say about the nest in the Amphimeadow, it fledged its birds, has been cleaned and is ready for occupancy. Once the birds that have fledged are on their own the parents may start a new nest in this box. We’ll have to wait and see.

This nest was not very productive last year due to construction of the Into the Mist exhibit just across the path from this site. This season promises to be a more quiet season, and hopefully a more productive one for the bluebirds.

Last week I reported that the chickadees in the nest box next to the Picnic Dome had started to incubate the 6 eggs they had deposited there. The eggs have hatched. Next week these naked, blind, fragile little creatures should be fat and happy.

Newly hatched chickadees in the “Picnic Dome” nest (5/7/13).

If the bluebirds that are in the nest box at the Butterfly House are still there next Tuesday, I’d be very surprised. I was a bit nervous about photoing these birds after opening the nest box and seeing how large they were. I thought that they may bolt, fly out of the nest before they were ready to fledge. I was very careful, moved slowly and quietly and got the shots that I needed.

Good luck out in the real world, bluebirds (5/7/13).

Curiously, this nest started with five eggs, hatched four nestlings, and now it appears that there are only three birds in the nest. Perhaps one of the birds had already fledged moments before I inspected the box. I didn’t see any activity nearby, but I could have simply missed seeing the bird. It wouldn’t be the first time that I overlooked something.

As it stands now, we have two nests of six occupied by bluebirds, one with four nestlings and one with three. Three nest boxes are currently being used by chickadees, one with five nestlings, one with five or six nestlings (not exactly sure which) and the other with four eggs. One nest box is empty.

So, till next week….

Join the conversation:

  1. One baby bluebird seemingly left the nest in our yard a bit too soon. I saw the little bird yesterday trying to climb a tree as the parents and two other adults dive-bombed me and hovered around the baby. I was worried about neighbor’s cats so as it was getting late in the day we returned the little one to the nest. This happened last year and it turned out okay so we tried it again. Do you think this action was in the bird’s best interest?

    Posted by judy Overby
  2. Ranger Comment :

    Most certainly in the bird’s best interest. I don”t know what prompted the bird to fly out of the nest too early, but if it can’t fly well enough to get up out of the reach of terrestrial predators it shouldn’t be out of the nest.

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  3. I live in MD and have a bluebird house which had 5 eggs. Today, May 13 is day 5 since hatching including day of hatch. (hatching was May 9).I can only see 3 hatchlings for sure but there seems to be another one and maybe even a 5th. I check nest once a day when I know parents are not inside. Is it possible to send you a photo to see if you can tell how many of the eggs hatched? The 3 I can see all look big and fine.
    Also do you know any links to photos of nests where it is hard to tell how many there are in addition to yours ?
    Thanks ,
    Frances

    Posted by Frances Stroscio
  4. Ranger Comment :

    Sure you can email me an image of the nest. Not sure if I can tell any better than you how many are in the nest though.
    I would be careful about opening the nest box too often, especially when the nestlings get to a size where they may fledge prematurely due to disturbances at the nest, you may scare them into fledging before they are ready.
    I don’t really know of any links that would show “hard to see” nestlings. I would suggest you Google “Bluebird nestlings” and select to view images on your browser, maybe an image would catch your eye.
    Thanks,

    Posted by Greg Dodge

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