I hear a melody. And it strikes fear in my heart.

flowering tree                   copyright 2012 - How To Spy On Birds

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.

Bluebird nest - side view                  copyright 2012 - How To Spy On Birds

Bluebird nest - side view

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!

Eastern Bluebird Eggs - Box 5                  copywrite 2012 - How To Spy On Birds

Eastern Bluebird Eggs - Box 5

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.

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8 Responses to I hear a melody. And it strikes fear in my heart.

  1. I happened on your blog while trying to identify a tree I saw on a hike in the Allegheny Mountains. It’s exactly the fragrant tree you have pictured at the top of this post! Do you know the name of it, by chance? Thank you!

    • If I had a clue, I would have given the name here. It frustrated me that I could not identify it. I will try to get an ID for you from my local arboretum. The fragrance was very powerful. I didn’t recall ever smelling or noticing it before. I would like to know what it is myself. I hope I can be of help to you…will let you know.

      • Thanks for responding! I had the same experience – I don’t remember smelling that scent before, either – but it was wonderful! And very strong, too! If you find out what it is, I’d be grateful to know. I have a few friends who are plant lovers, so I’ll keep trying, too!

    • Hi Annie – I found out what kind of tree this is! It’s an Autumn-Olive (elaeagnus umbellata, also referred to as Japanese silverberry, umbellate oleaster, autumn elaeagnus, or spreading oleaster.) Apparently, they’re good for erosion control, but can be invasive. Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaeagnus_umbellata

  2. BigSkyKen says:

    I did not know that about House Wrens! A couple years ago we had a Mountain Bluebird pair abandon their nest in a tree trunk, and I guessed that Flickers had driven them away, but I do recall House Wrens pestering them just before they gave up.

  3. Lets hope that everything goes well with this nest too.! Amidst all the blue and green.. I just noticed that you’ve changed your blog background to pink flowers! Look nice.. are they the spring blossoms there!? We too are patiently waiting for our Pink blossoms.. they are still a week away I guess.

    • The trees with the pink flowers are called Redbud trees. They flower before they leaf in spring here. They are among my favorite trees because of the lovely flowers. There was a Redbud on my college campus when I was a student (a long time ago) and the trees always remind me of happy student days. They are so lovely when planted in groves and along the water.

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