After a long and cold winter, the bluebirds have become active here at DSBG. We can just imagine they have been waiting for us to start peeking into (intruding?) their space. When they hear the golf cart approaching, they know we’ll be knocking on the doors. Yes, it’s always polite to knock before entering but, in this case, it’s to make sure a bird isn’t in the box when we open the front panel. Knock- knock and if a bird is in there, it usually flies out so that we can take a look inside.
The Eastern bluebirds spent many nights cuddling up for warmth in the nestboxes along the bluebird trail and, now, they are thinking about the future generation. This is the fourth week of March and there are three complete nests ready for use and several more that are under construction. The birds are active and have staked out territory for hunting and gathering. They are sitting on the boxes and lamp posts. They are singing. These are the signs of the season. Life is glorious!
This year a suggestion was made to try nestbox inserts to encourage the birds to use the boxes. Last year sixty-three percent of the boxes were used by the “blues”. Since there was not enough time before nesting season to order the inserts, make-shift ones were made from the tops of egg cartons. These are the cardboard ones, not the styrofoam ones. The tops were cut in half (like a half dozen size) and a couple of snips with the scissors were made to fold the end up to make it fit in the nestbox. It’s a trial and it remains to be seen if it increases box use. However, three of the nests that are ready for use are constructed in the egg carton inserts, as can be seen in the picture. We’ve had a few laughs about the birds’ laying eggs directly into egg cartons. It’s a different twist, but we do have fun with our “assignment.”
There is one box in which a tufted titmouse is setting up housekeeping. At least we think it’s a titmouse. It could be a Carolina chickadee as the nests are very similar. This nest is quite different from the ones bluebirds make. As to the cardboard insert, the bird attacked it and tore it into small pieces but a nest is being built in it. The nest is made up of shredded dry leaves and lots of green moss as well as other unidentifiable material. At this point it isn’t ready for use as more depth is needed before the nesting cup is shaped. We’ll keep an eye out for which bird flies into it and give you an ID later.
Most nests of the Eastern bluebird here at the garden are made up of pine needles as there is an ample supply of them. However, in the past there have been a few that were made with dried grass. It depends on what’s available.
So we’ve hit the trail for the season and with good weather and some luck, there will be a new generation of little bluebirds fledging over the next few months.