Early in the second week of July I wrote a blog entitled “Saga of the Eastern Bluebirds at Canadian Hill Farm” In it I describe the trials of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds as they try to select a birdhouse for their second brood. I should point out that the real estate market is really hot at Canadian Hill Farms. I had put up 10 birdhouses around the yard and prairie and all but one of them was occupied. The Bluebirds were looking at the one available house. They had been mulling it over for about a week when the house was purchased out from under them by a pair of House Wrens.
This meant there were no houses available for the Bluebirds. I then decided to repeat an experiment I started last year and put up a new birdhouse in the yard near my deck. This seemed to work well last year when I put up two house after the first brood hatched and both were occupied by Bluebirds. Putting a new house by the deck provided a house for the Bluebirds and allowed me to easily photograph the Bluebirds without having to get out my bird blind. Shortly after I put it up the new house the Bluebirds did show interest but once again a House sparrow was making a move on the house.
As I ended the blog both the Bluebirds and Wrens were looking at the house. The Bluebirds had been chasing the Wrens away and it looked like the Bluebirds might be going to build a nest. The morning after I wrote the blog I found one of the Wrens dead on my deck. I suspect the Bluebirds chased it into a window. That effectively ended the bidding war on the house and the Bluebirds acquired it. During the following week the Bluebirds were busy building a nest.
Once the nest was completed I noticed that the fledglings from the first brood started showing up. Mom would be on the nest and the kids would be sitting on top of the house looking a little confused. She tolerated this behavior for about a week before she started chasing the fledglings away from the house. I had seen this behavior before but after about a week the fledglings disappeared. This time the fledglings hung around for three weeks. The female constantly battling with them.
Typically when I put up a bluebird house I also put up a a sumac branch near the house. This provides the Bluebirds with a place to perch as well as some easily accessible food. It also provides a nice prop for me to photograph them on. What I do is go out in the woods early in the spring and cut some sumac branches while the berries are still on them. I store them in the garage until the Bluebirds start nesting then put them out. I use a plastic fence post and duck tape the sumac to the fence post. This year the fledglings took a liking to the sumac that I had put out and started eating it. That seemed to really tick the female Bluebird off. She was constantly chasing them away.
In the earlier Blog I had forgotten to mention a problem we had with the female Bluebird. While she was raising her young and we were on vacation she sat on a deck chair and attacked our windows. One was a side window looking out on the deck and another was a large picture window. The deck chair and the side of the house wer covered with bird poop. We finally moved the deck chair and cleaned the windows and things calmed down.
Once the second brood had hatched she was back at the windows again. This time it was a window in the laundry room. She could sit on the edge of the garage roof which was right next to the laundry room window. Every morning she would start attacking the window before attending to her young. At first we chased her away but discovered she would just go to another window. We finally decided to let her have the laundry room window so that we would only have one place to clean up. I’m amazed that she was able to raise her young at all given the time she spends at the windows.
These Bluebirds seem to be much more relaxed approach to feeding their young. Last year when I watched the Bluebirds feed their young they were arriving at the nest about forty times per hour with food for their young. This year it is no where near that.
I have a good view of the bird house and there appear to be two young birds in the nest. It has been very warm and humid out and they have been sticking their head out of the nest quite a bit. The parents have picked up their feeding a bit but they still seem lackadaisical about it.
One thing I noticed again this year but didn’t really know what was going on. The male bird when he comes to feed the chicks will enter the house after feeding and remove something. I assumed he was charged with housekeeping chores of some type. What he was doing is removing fecal sacs. After feeding the baby birds will excrete one sac. The adults then enter the nest and remove the sacs. Apparently both parents assist in removing the sacs but I’ve only see the male do it. I managed to get some not so good photos.
The Bluebirds ate all of the Sumac that I initially put out. With the babies about to fledge I put another branch of Sumac out by the birdhouse. I noticed that the female was feeding it to the babies. Much easier to fly five feet that to chase down a bug.
With the second batch fledged I hope the female moves on and doesn’t start attacking our windows again.
More bird photos from Canadian Hill Farm can be found on my website.