This spring, a pair of Eastern bluebirds raised a brood in a birdhouse on the back deck. From the windows I watched the whole process. I learned much from my avian teachers.
Bluebirds are curious; they want to know everything, including what humans are doing. When the finch nestlings died a couple months back, necessitating that I dispose of the nest, Mama and Papa Bluebird sat side-by-side on the fence, solemnly watching my every move. Bluebirds are all about family. Their fledglings stick around. When this first brood left the next, the parents became fiercely territorial. They attacked the kitchen bay window and cars in the driveway. No matter how far down the driveway my husband parks, they still take over his car; I even saw the father bluebird killing a worm on top of it one morning, like a mighty hunter on some holy mountain. I wondered if that worm was a meal for his children; the parents continue to feed them for a while after departing the nest.
Lesson One of Bluebirdology: protect your young at all costs.
Mama Bluebird takes over the hummingbird feeder, frequently looking in the kitchen window: What are those humans up to?
Papa Bluebird in all his blue glory, patrolling the fence.
The baby bluebirds are juveniles now, and over the last few weeks I’ve seen three or four them at any given time in the grass or lined up on the fence.
Lesson Two of Bluebirdology: Persevere.
One of the juveniles getting its own breakfast worm: Ta-daa!
What I find most remarkable is how the juveniles help to prepare for the next brood. I watched Papa Bluebird carry new nesting material into the birdhouse; in a moment, here came one of his children with a bit of straw.
Lesson Three of Bluebirdology: Teach your children well; survival is a community effort.
This weekend my seven-year-old granddaughter and I watched Mama Bird sitting on the fence watching us through the window, when out of the blue came Papa Bluebird. He landed beside his mate and fed her an insect in his beak. “They look like they’re kissing!” exclaimed my granddaughter.
They did. It was a sign, for sure…
I suspected, with the recent activity around the birdhouse, that new eggs were on the way. Here’s the thing: That birdhouse has only one little opening where the birds enter and exit. No way to peek in and verify anything or even to clean out a used nest.This is where the plot really thickens: My husband and I are about to embark on much-needed deck repairs. I needed to know: What’s in that birdhouse? If it is an active nest, by law we cannot disturb it. And if there are eggs… well, to me that makes it a sacred place. Not to be desecrated.
And so I bought a little endoscope and ran the wire camera into the birdhouse.
There are four bright blue eggs in a bed of pine straw.
I am not sure when they were laid. It could be a week or two from now before they hatch. Then it will be about three weeks before this next brood fledges and begins to fend for itself (I am imagining a whole army of bluebirds on the offense at that point, with Brood One still in the wings).
The deck repair will have to wait a bit, alas… not sure how I am going to explain this to my husband or our builder but I will take my chances with them over the bluebirds. In honor of life.
Heeding Lesson Four of Bluebirdology: There’s no place like home.
One of the juveniles still hanging around its natal home.
with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge