My resident bluebirds have set up shop in no less than three different birdhouses on our property. One year they were successful raising a family with the exception of one little guy who did not make it out of his birdhouse. Last year we almost had the same outcome when another little bluebird did not make it out of the birdhouse, but were able to rescue this baby. This year the family is back in the same house they used last year. This particular house has a hinged back door that I can open periodically to check on the babies. The birds don't seem to mind too much. Obviously the parents fly away, but do stay close keeping a watchful eye on me.
This year we started with two eggs, then five.
Three of the five eggs have hatched here at one day old.
At four days old all five of the eggs hatched. The babies are beginning to get some down and we can touch them no problem. They are too little to hold though. These babies are fed well and are content. They didn't even beg when the Jimster and I visited.At nine days old the babies are definitely looking more and more like bluebirds. They all have some feathers and have grown quite large. They can be held now with no problems whatsoever. The momma will always come back.
The baby bluebirds are now two weeks old! They are perky and have all feathers now. Their blue plumage has not quite appeared, but it will any day now. This is the crucial point when looking at bluebirds. I find it a balancing act. You can hold the babies but you must be careful not to scare them from their nest prematurely. If one hops out, just place it back in the nest and close up the box. Do not bother them again as they will fledge within days. Usually baby birds make a bunch of noise. This chirping always attracts my goldens; which will usually mean a major disaster for the bird's nest. In the case of these bluebirds, they have not made nary a sound! Even when looking at them they are quiet. I am guessing they are happy and content.
At 20 days old the babies are showing the blue color of bluebirds and two have flown the nest. I am not sure why these ones haven't already left, but they should be gone soon.
I wish them a long and happy life in my garden.
Lola sent me the following information regarding feeding bluebirds. I have never tried feeding them but Skeeter has had good luck with feeding them mealworms. The information is courtesy of Reiman Publications.
What do you feed bluebirds?
Darkling Beetles/Mealworm Information Phylum, Arthropoda; Class, Insecta; Order, Coleoptera Identifying Features Appearance (Morphology) Adult Beetle
Description: Black with hardened front wings (elytra) , Antennae arise under ridge near eyes, Antennae many-segmented, enlarging near tip, Shape quite variable, from almost parallel-sided to round, Head visible from top, followed by pronotum and elytra about same width, Mealworm (larva) averages an inch in length. They have a tough yellowish brown exoskeleton and are cylindrical. Adult Males and Females It is difficult to tell the difference between the males and females without a microscope and dissection. Immatures (different stages) The larval stage (referred to generally as mealworms) is worm-like and somewhat hardened for burrowing. The egg is white. The pupa is 1/2 to 3/4" long., white initially then darkening just before the beetle emerges. Length of the life cycle is 3-5 months. The larval stage may molt 9-20 times. Natural History Food The beetles and larvae eat decaying leaves, sticks, grasses and occasionally new plant growth. As general decomposers, they also eat dead insects, feces and stored grains. Habitat Mealworms live in areas surrounded by what they eat under rocks, and logs, in animal burrows and in stored grains. They clean up after plants and animals, and therefore can be found anywhere where "leftovers" occur. Predators Many predators eat mealworms including rodents, lizards, predatory beetles, spiders, and birds. Interesting Behaviors When disturbed, some beetles (genus Eleodes) assume a defensive posture in which they stand on their head and release chemicals from a scent gland in the rear that produces noxious odors and turns skin brown. Mealworms prefer darkness and to have their body in contact with an object. Impact on the Ecosystem Positive Clean up organic materials not readily used by others. Mealworms are food for other animals. Negative Sometimes mealworms feed on seedlings and clip plants off near soil line. Mealworms can be pests to stored grain. Collecting Live Insects Where to Collect Rather than spend time looking for mealworms in the wild, spend a couple dollars of buy them. Most pet stores and many fish tackle shops sell small and large mealworms. They are sold individually or in amounts of 50, 100 or 200. The large mealworms cost more, but are more lively and easier for students to observe. The large mealworms often are treated with hormones so they will NOT become adult beetles. The small mealworms will change into adult beetles within a month or two. Mealworm larvae and adults can be purchased from: Berkshire Biological Supply Company, The Biology Store (pupae also available), Carolina Biological Supply Company, Connecticut Valley Biological Supply Co., Inc., Nasco (pupae also available), Science Kit and Boreal Laboratories (larvae only), and Ward's Biology (pupae also available).
How to Make a Mealworm Experiment Container
Materials 1. Scissors 2. Masking tape 3. Mealworms 4. One container for each team or inividual student 5. Equal numbers of black and clear film cans 6. Black construction paper
To Make a Container
1. Remove the lids of the film cans. 2. Cut squares of black construction paper larger than the film can opening. 3. Place a mealworm in the clear container. 4. Place the black paper between the openings of the film cans. Leave enough space for the mealworm to move to the other side. 5. Join the two cans together and secure the paper with tape. When taping, try not to cover up too much of the clear film container.
To pick up a mealworm, use a plastic spoon or a folded 3x5" card to scoop up. When holding mealworms, keep hands over the container or table to avoid dropping the mealworms on the floor. Precautions Do not leave the containers where the sun will hit them. The containers can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days if the mealworm is provided with a little bran. Keep in mind, adding the bran also adds a new variable to the experiment. After the experiment is completed, dismantle the containers and give the mealworms food.
in the garden....