Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bluebirds and Their Families

My garden is considered a wildlife habitat because I provide the four essential components to attract wildlife; food, water, shelter and a place to raise young. Birds are my favorite and the most visible in the garden. BJ, my big golden retriever is very good at finding bird nests. He can hear the babies inside. He has led me to titmouse nests inside of fence poles and bluebird nests inside of birdhouses within reach of him. This was not a good thing for the bluebirds as BJ is a birddog.

I have several ornamental birdhouses which I never thought would become habitats for the birds, but nonetheless the birds have adopted them. Every year we have bluebirds nest in the yard in a birdhouse or two. The preferred bluebird houses have hinged lids for easy viewing and family and friends love watching the babies.

One family this year was quite fun to watch and track. Initially the nest had 5 eggs, then a week later there were only four babies, then in about another week all the babies but one were gone. Birds do not stay in the nest long. I was concerned about that one baby bluebird because the parents were no where around and with the other babies gone I worried he should also be gone. The next day the bird was still there with no sign of his parents. I decided we should help him. I took him out of the nest and Jimmy helped me to give him some water from a medicine dropper. He gladly drank as this time of summer (late July) was very hot and dry. I then put him back in the nest and hoped the parents would show up. No luck. Making sure the dogs were safely inside, I took the baby bluebird out of his house and dropped him to the ground to see if he could fly. He could, but just barely. I did this several times and with each time he was getting better at flying, then an amazing thing happened. The father bluebird showed up! He must have heard the baby bluebird chirping and appeared back on the scene. At that point, I left the baby in the father's able hands and have not seen him since. Before anyone protests my efforts let me just say this, a few years ago one baby bluebird did NOT make it out of the nest and I did not discover it until it was too late. I did not want the same fate to befall another baby bluebird. At first I thought the daddy bluebird (pictured above) abandoned his last baby in the nest. Now I realize that was not the case, I guess parents can only do so much to make their fledglings leave the nest at the right time! Sounds like some human parents I know too. Anyhow, this summer's crop of baby bluebirds had no mishaps and are safely doing their thing somewhere in the wild-hopefully in my garden.

in the garden....


  1. Our backyard is a wildlife refugee also but we have not officially registered it...
    We have 4 bird baths, two tube feeders, one house type feeder, 4 hummingbird feeders, a peanut butter ball feeder, tray for live mealworms, 5 suet cages and about 10 bird houses! I would say our feathery friends are happy in our yard! I try to plant blooming things which the hummingbirds and butterfly’s enjoy also…

    I don’t like to use a lot of fertilizers and pesticides because I fear harming my feather friends. We usually have two broods of blue birds in one season but a few years ago, we had three from the same mommy and daddy! I was shocked to see over a dozen baby bluebirds in one of our birdbaths in the evenings!

    It is fun to feed them meal worms. I make a certain call as I head to the tray to place the worms and the mommy and daddy come to the overhead wires. I no sooner have my back turned to walk away and they are getting mouthfuls of worms to feed their babies! The first two years of feeding them meal worms and we only had the bluebird’s indulging on the treats. Now the cardinal, titmouse, sparrow, chickadee, wrens and mocking birds will get them!

    I find the most amazing birds to fly the nest to be the Cardinals. They leave the nest within 8 days of hatching! They do not look like Cardinals at all when they take off. I fight the wrens and finches every spring over the front porch plants! I fight them because we have tons of woods and houses provided for them but they insist on getting into my plants! I have tried the fake owls, rubber snakes, etc but unless you move them around every day, the birds soon learn they will not harm them! They are so smart those birds!
    I usually end up letting the wrens in a plant or two as they are not too messy and they don’t freak out when I water the plants with babies in the plant. I have a really a series of pictures I snapped of a wren nest we found on our boat. We carefully moved the nest off the boat and place it on a nearby hanging ladder. I was able to check in on the growth each day. I will email you the series of pictures…

  2. You definitely have me beat on feeding the birds. I haven't had luck with mealworms or I would try that. It is cool the bluebirds come to you right away. When I am digging in the garden and find white grubs, I leave these out for the bluebirds but I never see them take them. They do because they disappear.

    I am going to post the photos of the wrens tomorrow. You did a good job capturing their short nesting stages. Don't you just love the songs of wrens?

    You are also so right about those cardinals not looking like cardinals. I never hold baby birds when they are close to leaving the nest because they might leave the nest prematurely. A friend came over and I wanted her five year old daughter to hold one of the cardinals. I thought they were no where near leaving the nest but the next day they were gone! The babies didn't go far though, as I saw the ugly little things quite frequently in the yard for a few weeks after until they finally looked like cardinals. Their parents were always close. I think they liked the flowers and food in the garden-just like you have.
    Getting your yard certified is very easy. You get a neat certificate and sign to post. I went to the National Wildlife Federation website and there it all was. Check it out!