When I was in grammar school I remember singing a song at recess, “Bluebird, bluebird through my window” and now that I think of it I never recall seeing a bluebird (let alone one flying into my house). Now I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to see bluebirds every single day at Tupper Hill. I have been maintaining a bluebird “trail” here for over fifteen years. It’s not actually a trail but approximately twenty sites of open, grassy habitat where nestboxes are placed for the birds.
The boxes are put up in pairs about 20 feet apart. The reasoning behind this is that the happy-go-lucky bluebirds will nest in one box and the more aggressive, nest defending tree swallows will move in next door. Sometimes a wren takes over, packing a box with twigs, and occasionally I see a chickadee move in. For the most part, along our trail, its bluebirds and tree swallows. This year I seem to have a house sparrow problem- more about them in the future- but for those of you who also have this issue remember to be persistent.
The boxes were cleaned out and replaced (I try and replace one box at each site, the bluebirds seem to prefer the newer boxes) in early March. The bluebirds are here year round so long as there is enough food, and they do start house-shopping early. The first completed nest was observed on April 13th, with other nests under construction. At the beginning of May, beautiful blue eggs were present.
It’s been a long, cool spring (no complaints here!) and everything from the blooms in the gardens to the arrival of our migrant birds has been late and drawn out. As for the bluebirds, they were not in a rush, either. They are doing quite well along our trail.
As of May 23rd, we have active nests at 13 sites. Combined, there are 20 eggs being incubated, 27 birds ranging from just hatched to about to fledge, and this morning I watched as one brave bird (from that early nest) made its first flight out of the box and into an old apple tree. Our numbers might actually be higher, as two boxes had hens on the nest that refused to budge!