All in a Day’s Work

Top Photo: Female bluebird prepares to exit nest box after delivering nest material.

We have six bluebird nest boxes at the museum. At present, the boxes are in various states of development. Five have bluebird nest material in them, one a chickadee nest. One has eggs.

Female leaves to collect more pine needles and grass.

As I walked through Catch The Wind the other day I noticed bluebird activity near one of our nest boxes. Just the day before, I had looked into this same box on my weekly nest box inspections. There was a partial nest in the box. It was far from complete and frankly, I didn’t expect it would ever be completed. Sometimes birds start a nest and for whatever reason they abandon it over another. This location wasn’t used at all last year.

Female delivers fresh material to nest.

From the activity, it looks as though the birds are going ahead with this one. The pair of bluebirds that had started the nest in the box were adding to it, or rather the female was. I didn’t see the male carry anything into the nest box, though he did peek his head in a few times to have a look.

Male glares at me before peeking into nest box.

I watched the birds for about twenty minutes, taking photos as they went about their work. At one point the female sat on top of the box seeming quite agitated. Several times she left the perch and dive-bombed something on the ground, out of my view.

Female cranes her neck to view disturbance on ground.

Moving away from the bush I’d been standing behind I noticed a squirrel foraging on the ground near the nest box. Squirrels make bluebirds nervous. They’ll rob a nest of their eggs, or even nestlings if the eggs have already hatched. The female bluebird was protecting her nest, though it has yet to contain eggs.

Squirrels can and do eat bird eggs and nestlings.
Female about to dive at squirrel.

To my knowledge, we’ve never lost a nest to squirrels. Water sprinkler (1), truck exhaust (1), rat snake (1 or 2 – before installation of predator guards), and house wrens have taken a few. I’m confident, though, that we’re safe for this year.

The more along a nest is the stronger the parents’ commitment. Even though this nest is not yet complete or have eggs, the birds are showing a hearty attachment to the site.

My next scheduled inspection is March 29, next Tuesday. I’m counting on seeing a few eggs in the nest.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.