This summer I’ve had some Eastern Bluebird Fledglings hanging around the farm. Usually they hang around for a week but this summer they have been around for over three weeks.
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.
This has indeed been a strange summer for bird watching at Canadian Hill Farm. About a month ago a Red-headed Woodpecker turned up at my feeder. This was the first one I have seen in 45 years of living on the Farm.
Just before the 4th of July I noticed an American Robin building a nest under my deck. I assumed she was getting ready for the second batch of babies for the summer. I was gone for the next week. When I returned, the following week, I noticed that the nest was finished but didn’t really pay much attention. Later in the week I stopped to look in the nest and found two fledglings. One of them flew out of the nest when I approached. I backed off. The next day the nest was empty. I’m still trying to figure out how a robin can build a nest and fledge the babies in two weeks? The only thing I can think of is something happened to the first nest and she built another nest for the fledglings.
This past week I notice a fledgling sitting on my bird perch by the feeders. It was a bird I didn’t recognize. It was about the size of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the color of a female Grosbeak. It would just sit there and made no attempt to feed at the feeder. Subsequently I noticed it several more times sitting in the same place. I took some photos but wasn’t able to figure out what it was.
Yesterday I noticed it again and this time there were several Grosbeaks at the feeder so when the fledgling started fluttering its wings wanting to be fed I figured a Grosbeak would feed it.
All of a sudden a small bird flew up from the ground and fed it. Turned out the mother was a song sparrow and the fledgling was a Brown-headed Cowbird. The poor little Song Sparrow thought the Cowbird was its baby. This is the first time I’ve seen this happen at the feeders.
Never a dull moment when watching birds.
When the Eastern Bluebirds were building their nest the fledglings from the first Clutch started hanging around the new house. Several weeks later they are still hanging around although I don’t see them as frequently.
More Summer bluebird photos can be found on my website.
Every year, in the spring, the Baltimore Orioles and the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive within a couple of days of each other. The difference is the orioles only stay for a few days and the hummingbirds are here for the rest of the summer. Some years the orioles will return, for a few days around the first day of summer, once their first young have fledged. Again they typically only stay for a few days and then they are off to create their second batch of young.
This year, when the adults returned to the feeder, they brought with them their three fledglings. As soon as they arrived I put out some grape jelly for them. Although they will drink sugar water they much prefer the grape jelly. Again this year the adults were only around for a few days but the three fledglings have now been around the feeder since the first week of summer. So far this summer they have gone through almost two gallons of grape jelly. They aren’t the only birds eating it but they eat most of it.
Unfortunately the past few days I’ve only seen two of the three fledglings. I did find some feathers on the front porch. I’m hoping they weren’t from one of the fledglings but they did look a bit like Baltimore Oriole feathers. I’m thinking one of them hit a window and the cat found it.
During the last week of spring and the first few weeks of summer quite a few fledglings have shown up around the farm.
In terms of numbers and frequency of visits the Baltimore Orioles have been the most common. It’s hard to tell if it is just one family or several families. When the Orioles first arrived in the spring there were only a few and they only stayed around the feeder for just a couple of days. Now that the young have fledged they are at the feeder constantly. When they first started coming it was a stitch to watch them. The area around the feeder was loaded with humming birds and the fledglings were constantly ducking when a humming bird flew by.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks fledglings have also been common around the feeder. They are easily identifiable by the orange on their breast. I’ve see a couple of cases of the adults feeding the fledglings but haven’t been able to get a photo.
One day I looked out the window and saw this young Grey Catbird sitting in a bush right outside the window. It sat there for about a half an hour looking in the window. I took the screen off of the window so I could get a shot and it didn’t move. The adults were hovering in the background and were a little concerned that I was getting too close.
Every year we have some House Finches show up with their fledglings. For about a week the fledglings like to be fed by the parents. There is usually one that continues to try to be fed rather than going to the feeder.
This year, for the first time, I had a fledgling Song Sparrow at the feeder. This is a shot of the adult feeding the fledgling.
There has been a Fledgling Red-bellied woodpecker at the feeder. In this shot the adult and the fledgling were both at the feeder. I did get a shot of the adult feeding the fledgling but it was so dark that the photo didn’t turn out.
Several Downy Woodpeckers brought their fledglings to the suet feeder this summer.
Tree swallows are a rare sight at the feeder. Earlier in the week I had been out photographing the soon to be fledglings in the nest. A couple of days later this one landed near my bird feeders. It was wild eyed with all of the activity around the feeder. It seem terrified of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying around. I can relate because the hummingbirds do make quite the loud noise when flying.
I’ve had some Eastern Bluebirds feeding their fledgling on my deck railing but I haven’t been able to get a photo of them. I did get this shot of the fledgling sitting out in the flowers.