There were new sights, new sounds and exciting new discoveries along the Bluebird route. The fragrance of flowering trees was fresh on the strong breeze. The forest floor growth has completely covered spots made bare by winter. Many dandelions have turned to balls of fluffy seeds waiting to be scattered on the wind.
This week’s observations note only two of the eight nest boxes remain empty. The other six all have some level of wild bird nesting activity and only time will tell how this season’s story will end.
Last week I noted a nearly complete Eastern Bluebird nest in Box #5. I approached the box calling to let any bird in the nest box exit. I stood aside, rapped on the box and found no one at home. I saw this perfectly built nest as I removed the front cover. And then I made the most exiting discovery of the day — two lovely Eastern Bluebird eggs in the deep nest cup within! After applying silicon to the mounting pole and snapping a few photos, I left the area. But before I set foot out on the trail, I looked back and stood silently observing the box and watching for movement. I was rewarded with a view of the parent bluebird pair courting nearby. The male of the pair fed the female while her wings were all aflutter. The female entered and exited her nest box several times. Clearly this pair has bonded and is defending and nurturing the family they are beginning.
The usual bird species were in attendance – redwings, robins, cardinals, hawks, woodpeckers, migrating warblers and a white egret fishing in a distant pond. A handsome male bluebird was actively hunting insects in the grass. He made several dives down from a low tree branch repeatedly winging between ground and perch as he hunted. I saw a species that I don’t recall seeing in these woods before…Blue Jays. They certainly made a lot of chatter to let me know they were about. One was carrying nesting material as it thoughtfully looked around. The Blue Jays were big, bold, noisy and fun to watch.
Another species in evidence were the bicyclists. Be watchful for them on the trail! If you decide to pause and observe, use your binoculars or take photos…step off the path lest you be run over. The cyclists pedal rapidly and can’t stop quickly on those gravel paths or on the downhills rounding a curve!
As I walked through the woods listening for bird voices, I heard a lovely twitter. A pretty and familiar melody. But it struck terror in my heart. It was the tell-tale twitter of the murderous House Wren.
House Wrens will destroy the eggs and even the very young hatchlings of bluebirds if they want to claim the nest box. I have found shattered bluebird eggs on the ground below the nest box and then found classic House Wren building material placed over the bluebird nest. House Wrens, using small sticks to build their nests, will run off the bluebird pair and make their claim. God willing, that will not be the fate of my bluebird nest. Nature will take its course.