“A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake, and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn’t blue,
But he wouldn’t advise a thing to blossom.”
by Robert Frost
Ok. Here comes the research. Bluebirds prefer forest edges, former woodlands due to burning or cutting, and fields scattered with trees. You’d be lucky if you witnessed one flying along and capturing its prey or gleaning the insects in the treetops.
Additional notes about the parents.
Courting- The male sings and quivers in front of a female, whom he hopes will be his mate. His wings will be about half open, his tail open as he perches. Then, he lands and preens right next to her. If she’s lucky, he may bring her a present of a morsel of food. Is there a human female who doesn’t appreciate a gift?
Next- sex. (Don’t tell the kids that I’m talking about sex. On the other hand, learning about bird sex might make it a lot easier for you when they’re teenagers.) Broods are often conceived by one female and one male. Hmmm. Must be that neither gender is totally faithful to its mate. (That also sounds like some humans.)
Following that- nest building. The easiest way for them would be to take over a former woodpecker cavity that is already excavated. (A young human couple would love to build their house, compare to building or buying a new house. Expensive. On the other hand, humans might start with renting)
If the male needs to build his own nest, he lines it with loose grass, weed stems, pine needles, little twigs, and sometimes hair or feathers. This takes from 10 to 14 days. (This sounds like a lot more work than purchasing a cradle, but then again, I’ve never been lucky to have that experience, so I should just keep my mouth shut. Also, the female will be super busy very soon.)
Like now. Her time has come. She lays 4 to 5 pale blue, or sometimes white and unmarked eggs that are only about 4/10 inch long. Another source stated that they could be8/10 long.
After the eggs are laid, the females sometimes dump one out of the nest. Maybe they feel that food is not plentiful enough to feed all of the chicks about to be born. They might even abandon the eggs altogether. (The human perspective- Any mother who would abandon her children is despicable. However, she might feel that she cannot afford to feed it, provide a good home or education. It would be so much better if both partners could make the decisions together. Personally, I still think that it’s a very sad situation.
Raising the chicks. Ta da! The chicks are born. Great! Once the chicks are born, a parent might still remove a weak chick from the nest. This might be so that more food can be provided for the stronger siblings.
In the case with bluebirds, the female knows that the male will help raise the young. Isn’t it sad that this is not necessarily the case with humans? (I know, it might be a better decision for one human parent or the other to raise the children, so no criticisms, please. A human female might decide to abort a pregnancy, if she doesn’t feel that could afford to feed it, provide a good home or education. It would be so much better if both partners make the decisions together. All of these details don’t make me feel any better for the child.)
I have run out of space. If you want to learn more fascinating comparisons of this bird with humans, or how to help protect them, you could do the research yourself. I would rather have you go to my blog. Did you forget my blog address? Let Mama Ann be of service.
Like human big brothers and sisters, the bluebird young, of previous broods, help the parents with the newborns.
What do these hungry, hungry, hungry chicks eat? Yes, they are like humans in that respect, too. However, that’s where the similarities stop. Bluebird chicks eat insects- lots of them. They need the protein for a healthy start in life.
Finally, it’s time to head south- just like humans who don’t care for our winters. What do they pack? Food, glorious food. Berries, specifically.
Finally, they’re ready to fly. This is done in flocks of about one hundred. Too bad they can’t catch a plane ride. Maybe they can’t afford the high costs of them.
The Eastern bluebird has been on the U.S,Blue List in 1072, and 1078-82. Also, it was considered of special concern in 1986.
Now, boys and girls, Mama Ann has a little lecture for those of you who need to do more to protect your birds.
1.Of course, provide nesting boxes. I have mine overlooking my big field. I check it regularly. A second one is provided for the nasty house sparrows, which kill the parents and chicks. Here’s a surprise. The starlings don’t harm bluebirds. Maybe they’re too busy causing enough other damage.
2. Plant native trees and shrubs that provide healthy food for them. Whe n winter arrives, berries are sincerely appreciated. I’m in the process of cutting down the nasty tartarian honeysuckles so that there will be room for my new plants, when they arrive. I can hardly wait for them. I ordered cranberry bushes.
3.Leave dead trees standing or on the ground, if they have fallen. I was so sad when my last white birch tree died. However, it was resurrected, so to speak. Insects still like it. Then the birds get the insects. Now, bluebirds probably just glean their insects from shrubs, but the woodpeckers sure do like them.
4. Gather limbs and sticks, that are in unsuitable places for you, and pile them where you want them. Birds and other critters are very appreciative for hiding places.
5. Feed them! This has been a rough winter. I shovel the snow every day. I even shovel under the birdfeeders. Not fun sometimes. However, some birds prefer feeding on the ground. Also, two seed feeders and two peanut feeders can’t possibly feed all the birds that swarm here. I buy fat from the local meat vender. And place thin slices in spaces provided at the ends of my feeders. Some love that.
6. Hang feeders from shepherd’s hooks with baffles under them to prevent squirrels and chipmunks from dominating the feeders.
7. Don’t mow all the grass. You will provide food for many more birds with plants that have gone to seed. Also, it saves money and time from mowing. Now, I do dislike walking among wet plants that could get quite tall, so I mow paths three times a year. Also, I mow a little clearing for entertaining friends in the summer.
Here’s my wish. Here’s hoping that you are kind to your wildlife. Hope these ideas are helpful.
I have a fabulous donation of a photo of a male and female bluebirds couple. You could see that in my upcoming Jamestown Post Journal article on Saturday. The online address of that paper is My articles, mostly about birds, but also wildflowers, appear every other Saturday. To find them go online to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, right below the title of the paper, in a maroon colored line, click on Lifestyles. Finally, on the left, click on nature. I’m usually about the third article down. They have changed their policies. One can no longer allow a person to read the paper online for free. I don’t blame them. Paper newspapers are in trouble. The PJ has an important role in our area, so they need to be able to make more money. I just wish that the increased money earned goes to my wonderful reporter friends’ salaries.