Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bluebird Chronicle II 2016

May 29: What better way to start a new chapter than with new eggs.
Having just raised four kids, maybe Ma said that's too much work and drew the line at three.

That said, a little story from yesterday. I was reflecting upon how I see Mrs. Bluebird still feeding the kids, but not Mr. Bluebird. Meanwhile, his/our enemy, Mr. House Sparrow, is seen taking food to his young'uns. Hmm.
Then something happened that really surprised me. A bluebird kid had landed on the tray and picked up a dried worm that it was just holding.
Along comes Pa and what does he do? He snatches it from Junior's grasp and eats it! I could hardly believe what I'd just seen.
Flash back to last time we had a (BB) family and I believe I do recall seeing some less-than-friendly behaviour by (perhaps the same?) father then.
On reflection, I think they're not-so-subtle hints to Junior that the blissful childhood is over and it's time to go and find his own little slice of heaven.
Ma and Pa are now focusing on a new family.

 Come on baby, let's do the twist. 

June 5: one of the kids after a bath.

At one point there were 5 eggs, but somebody somehow destroyed one. I found it on the ground. House Wren perhaps, what I'm thinking.

(But this one is alive and kicking)
June 12: The first of the second four arrives.
 June 14: Three out. Videos on YouTube:  
Shaky and poorly focused but a bit more animated than the next one.

June 17: Four kids are starting to get fuzzy. 
We didn't see any open eyes yet but they were resting.

June 22: Eyes open. This one responded to the camera flash.
Incidentally, this Bluebird family are lodged in a PVC house I made from the Gilbertson plan.  You can get a PDF of the design here, or read about and/or buy pre-made here. I am having less House Sparrow trouble this year with this design and am very enthusiastic about it. The ability to remove it for photography is obviously a huge plus. The only modification I made was with a hacksaw, cutting some shallow footholds to help them cling to the outside.

June 27: Can't be long now.

 June 30: Himself. Frames from wide-angle video.

Update on the kids: they're still home. I assume all four are in there but I'm not going to open it up to count for fear of causing premature flight. 
There is a little something I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't mention: the matter of poop removal. Hope it doesn't gross you out but it's rather fascinating. The kid will rotate and expel a fecal sac which the parent will then take away. How does the kid know to do that? In a video I shot today, Ma shows up with a worm, the kid does the about-face, Ma expects the sac but still has the worm so she swallows it... then the kid doesn't deliver! Win some lose some. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016 Spring 2

Mr. Bluebird's got this wave thing going on. I call it his bluebird semaphore, but that's just me.

 I should try to see what a DNR program could do with the above. 
It was rather early morning when shadow was long and deep.

I'm not just about Bluebirds ya know.
Here's a Towhee of the male persuasion.
It's taken me quite a while to get a good shot of him.

 Nuthatch in a typical pose. Love that lichen or whatever it is.

 I can't get enough of these guys.  

Seems like a good year for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Less often seen is an individual part way between juvie and adult male plumage. I've seen different variations and it's always a treat. Dig that red eyebrow!

The female (or maybe a kid?) for good measure.

May 28: Twas a hot day for sure. 
 Repeat from BB Chronicle, just after seeing all 4 BB kids.
 Not often you see the Red-winged Blackbird sunning himself.
He was panting too.
Goldfinch doing the same. 

May 29: It's started, the 17 year cicada emergence.
This one's on poison ivy.
I guess I'll be falling asleep to cicadean rhythms soon enough.

 May 30: Brown Thrasher.
Was here yesterday too.Adding this fuzzy picture just for tail length, wing bars.

Export Wildlife

I took a little walk on the occasion of Dad's 95th birthday celebration.
Catbirds. Nancy thought maybe these were kids. I can believe it.

I was wondering when I'd start seeing the Phoebe. 
But maybe this is a Pewee due to those wing bars, not always sure.

An Oriole stopped at some tent caterpillars, but no shot worth sharing.

In the distance I spotted even more wildlife, with offspring! 


Bluebird Chronicle 2016

April 24: Evidence says kids plural (frequency of trash removal).
We dared guess as high as three.

 April 30. Four little heads!
May 8: Hard to see the fourth, look for the eye above the center. 
My guess is this is shortly before they fledged. The next time I checked they were gone, but I was encouraged to see no sign of foul play.

Fast-forward a week and I started to see Ma collecting as many worms as possible then, beak full, heading north over the field. Working theory: she's got 'em parked somewhere safe and is delivering bulk food. I guess the growing kids wouldn't all fit back in that little 4" tube. Like trying to put toothpaste back?

A few days ago I had my first sighting of the youngsters, presumably brought back to the old 'hood for the free food, but they stayed high in the trees.

May 15: Single egg. It was blue, hard to see in this bright light. I checked a few days later and it was gone. Maybe the House Wren stole it, I don't know but Ma and Pa seemed to be to busy to spend much time guarding it.

 May 22: we are finally treated to some parental attentiveness.

It appears to be time to start over. Yay! 

Another shot of junior. Perhaps soon we'll see more of the siblings.
 I'm sure they prefer the live mealworms but will take the dry ones too. In another attempt to stretch my feed dollar I've started to raise mealworms.

Evening update (May 22): one kid seen in the worm tray. 
Shortly after that, these two on nearby tree. 

May 26: Certainly by now we are seeing 3 kids. 

  Here's Ma feeding one of them.

May 28: First time for sure I saw all four kids (since in nest).
One flew before I could prove it.  

His lordship, portrait du jour.

 (Continued, chapter 2 of Bluebird Chronicle is here.)