Eastern Bluebirds hatched!

We are a bit behind, but here are the updates of the Eastern Bluebird chicks, hatched and being cared for by their mother!

 

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O is for Owl

The Barred Owl, who keeps watch in our neighborhood!

And maybe O is for Oops! Sorry we’re so late this morning, but now I bet you see why we weren’t too enthused about today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge letter. We could only thing of something dangerous!

Yet as dangerous as owls are, they are endangered themselves. You humans don’t seem too keen on keeping dead trees around, and dead trees are where many owls nest. Have you considered putting up an owl box on your property? They can be purchased or made from plans…and it seems like most of the plans we are seeing in a online search are for barn owns, which need lots of open land.

In spite of our squirrel instincts to avoid owls, we’re going to hunt down some plan sources for your humans. In the meantime, here’s a good overview of why you should want owls in your life from Rodales Organic Life.

Bluebird Nestbox Invaded

Well, this is a hard story to tell, folks. Our reader friend, Nancy, wrote that the Eastern Bluebirds in her yard had laid a second set of eggs.

Eastern Bluebird female

Eastern Bluebird hatchlings 1-2 days old

They hatched, but twelve days later the parent birds were forced to abandon the nestlings.

Note: Nancy began documenting this local bluebird nesting and shared it with The Squirrel Nutwork in April. Search ‘bluebird’ if you wish to see the older posts!

First, we are pleased to say the fledglings from the first nesting  had continued to stay with the parent bluebirds, and were helping to feed the second set of hatchlings.

Eastern Bluebird with juvenile

Eastern Bluebird juveniles

Nancy reported it was wonderful to see all three return.

Eastern Bluebirds juveniles

Then one evening a raccoon tried to get into the nest box…

Raccoon stalking bluebird nest box

…including climbing the nearby fence. Lucky for the bluebirds, he got stuck and gave up.

Raccoon on a fence

But the next day, a House Sparrow was spotted entering the nest box. You readers may remember that the House Sparrow entered the nest box after the first set of fledglings left.

House Sparrow invading bluebird nest

These aggressive–and non-native!–birds must have been harassing the bluebirds all along. Despite the help from another male bluebird and the three juveniles, the female was looking thin and worn out the day the raccoon appeared.

Eastern Bluebird female thin and worn

All of the bluebirds disappeared, leaving the 12 day old nestlings.

Eastern Bluebird hatchlings 12 days old_1

Nancy and her family tried to feed them.

Feeding bluebird hatchlings

Mealworms, egg whites and soaked dog food were recommended by the Wildlife Rescue League–but with work, these humans couldn’t feed the same amount of food that six birds could, and the nestlings didn’t make it. Nancy and her family were quite upset when they wrote us.

As soon as the nest box was empty, a House Wren tried to use it, and in fact, was rather insistent!

Carolina Wren trying to use bluebird nest box_1

The solution has been to leave it open to discourage the other birds.

Bluebird nest box open

Unfortunately, this nature story isn’t unusual. Even with this much help from humans, wildlife have a tough time of it. The competition for food and nesting sites is fierce. The more docile songbirds like the Eastern Bluebirds can’t compete with critters who are more aggressive.

Nancy wrote us that even with the loss of the second hatchlings, the positive part of having the nest box in their yard was the success of the parent birds raising the first three chicks through to being able to fend for themselves. They will go on to raise families of their own next year.

They left the box!

That was our note from our reader friend Nancy who has been keeping The Squirrel Nutwork up-to-date on the Eastern Bluebird family in her yard. One day the fledglings were there and the next they weren’t.

vacated bluebird nest

You may have noticed in our last bluebird update that the fledglings had feathers and spots–it sure doesn’t take long to test those wings!

The bluebirds will not return to the nest once they have left, so Nancy removed the old nest material. Like many songbirds, the parents will nest again soon and raise a second brood before summer’s end.

Eastern Bluebird nest

They will collect grass again and rebuild–it seems the act of nest building is part of their whole courtship process, something squirrels don’t understand. Build a nest once and keep it repaired! That’s enough.

They would have built again right over the old nest, but that can put the eggs and nestlings too close to the hole–and the hands of hungry raccoons. If you’re keeping a box, please clean it out! Also, you might discourage House Sparrows from nesting  in it.

This aggressive, non-native bird loves a good nest box. And they don’t need them, their numbers are high enough already!

nest box with House Sparrow on top of it Nest box with House Sparrow in it

Thank you to all you human readers monitoring Bluebird Boxes! It’s more than putting them up!

A Bluebird Update

Our reader friend Nancy has sent us an update on the Eastern Bluebirds making their home in her suburban Virginia yard.

Eastern Bluebirds

The parent birds have been dutifully hunting insects. But while they were away one afternoon, a Gray Catbird took to hanging out on the nest box…

Gray Catbird

…prompting our concerned human friend to have a look inside.

hatchling Eastern Bluebirds in nest box

The hatchlings were all accounted for. Thank you, Nancy, for the pictorial update!

N is for Nest Box…the inside view!

Many of you humans have put up next boxes for us and birds. We re especially grateful! Several years ago we featured a variety of our neighborhood nest boxes on our Blogging From A to Z Challenge. We have a good selection to choose from!

This year, thanks to our reader friend who has been watching those beautiful Eastern Bluebirds and sent us our ‘B’ day photo, we have a view of the inside the nest box in her yard!

Eastern Bluebird eggs inside the nest box

Yes, these are the blue eggs of the Eastern Bluebirds, and it was a quick peek!

female Eastern Bluebird

This was the female a few days before the eggs were laid. Thanks, Nancy, for sharing with us!

Squirrel Nest Boxes

A conversation with a reader on Thursday–in the comments section if you are interested–led to my promising to post a squirrel nest box. Squirrels would prefer to den or nest in a hollow in an old tree. However, there aren’t many of those around in suburban neighborhoods. We make leaf nests instead, but would happily fill a human-made nest box with leaves instead, especially as winter approaches!

Squirrel Nest Box

These boxes are larger than a bird box and it’s easier for us to get in and out of them if the hole is placed next to the tree trunk.

Nest box

And here is one that was well used!

Gray Squirrel kits

You humans could buy a box, or build your own. Here is one link to plans. Thanks for helping out us squirrels!