Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bluebirds Nesting a Success!

Eastern bluebird
 This is our second year for nesting bluebirds in one of Gerry's birdhouses.

male bluebird
 Even though the female builds the nest and incubates the eggs for about 14 days, the male guards the area from predators. We've watched him swoop down on squirrels who come anywhere near the birdhouse.

  We knew there were babies in the box, you could hear them chirping when the parents left to find food. Recently they've begun to stick their heads out.

There's at least two and they look kind of grumpy. The female will lay 4 to 6 eggs, so they may well be more inside. Wonder if these two are standing on their nest-mates heads.

female feeding young
Bluebirds consume about four grams of food per day, or about 12% of their body weight. This is equivalent to a 200 pound human eating 24 pounds of food each day. Whoever came up with the phrase "she eats like a bird" to mean she eats very little?!

yum! a big juicy caterpillar, thanks dad!
 A bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 150 feet.
more food!
 Male bluebirds deliver food to incubating females and participate equally in feeding nestlings and fledglings.

come back!!
Nestlings get fed about every 15 minutes but they still act as if they're starving.

The nestlings will finally fledge the nest in 16 to 20 days after hatching. Then they'll be fledglings. They'll stick around and still beg to be fed.

I don't understand why dad is just standing there, doesn't he have hungry mouths to feed.......

   Mom gets the job of removing the "fecal sac"! Gotta keep a clean house!

  Here's another interesting fact I found online.
Bluebirds have no blue pigments in their feathers. Instead, each feather barb has a thin layer of cells that absorb all wavelengths of color except blue. Only the blue wavelength is reflected and scattered, resulting in their blue appearance to our eyes.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Birds Around the House

ruby-throated hummingbird
   We live in southeastern Vermont, surrounded by deciduous trees, conifers and open fields, our elevation is just below 1000 ft. I leave feeders up year round (more on the perils of this later in the post).

chipping sparrow with nesting material
   As soon as Gerry got his new camera (Canon EOS 7D with 100 - 400mm zoom) and started reading the manual, he began shooting. We're lucky to have a great spot for a nice variety of birds.

eastern bluebird
   For the second year, bluebirds have nested in a house, I can hear the nestlings squawking when I walk by.

tree swallow
   We always have tree swallows nesting.

house wren
   House wrens always return to their usual house.

pine siskin
   Two pine siskins have been around for a while, they usually head further north to breed. Not sure if they nested here though.

male red-bellied woodpecker

  New this year is a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers coming to our suet feeders everyday.

evening grosbeak
 Also a pair of evening grosbeaks returned, hopefully to nest. We rarely have them here at all.

Blue Jay

purple finch

scarlet tanager

   This was a rare treat, I kept hearing the tanager singing and hoped he'd come closer so Gerry could get a picture. I looked out the window and he was right on the bird bath.

   I know it's recommended to take the feeders down in the spring because of bears. I take them in at night and put them back out in the mornings, so I thought I had the bears fooled. Bears have a sense of smell that's 4 times better than a dog, so there's no fooling them. This guy arrived at 7pm.