Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bluebirds! Season 4. Episode 6. A new enemy emerges.

The boldest Tree Swallow
This is no longer shocking, perhaps, but a third swallow was murdered--this time in Box 6. The House Sparrow is not just a murderer but a serial killer.

House Sparrow on box
Except, in a shocking twist, it turns out there is not just a single murderer, but two. Two brother House Sparrows (they are known associates) out for blood. Perhaps a trap is in order. Meanwhile, swallows continue to tempt fate at Box 5.
Tree Swallows
 And the former owner of Box 6 has already hooked up with a new partner (a young, first year female, from the brown plumage). But doesn't dare enter the box when the sparrow is around.
Tree Swallows
There is a third legit bluebird nest, a little too close for comfort to another one, but so far I haven't seen any direct conflict. Except with tree swallows (who took over the nest for a time). 
Eastern Bluebird
So while the swallows continue to experience turmoil, the bluebirds have been cruising right along. One nest with 5 eggs, another with 4. Until today. A fifth egg, not like the others.
Eastern Bluebird nest
Brown-headed Cowbird female
Unlike House Sparrows, whose eggs may be (and will be) addled with impunity, cowbirds are native birds and are generally protected. So we'll have to watch nature take its course with this one....

How do Blue-gray Gnatcatchers deal with cowbirds? As follows (a female red-winged blackbird is acting as proxy. She was just minding her own business collecting nesting material when this happened). 
And what is happening, you ask, in the Bluebirds! spin-off, "Special Ridge Hill Unit"?
Another lid has fallen off
Never mind. I think this one is on the verge of cancellation. The bluebirds were interested in two boxes. The first ended up full of hornets; the second lost its top. And House Sparrows, previously unknown in Ridge Hill, have miraculously appeared and started nests in at least two boxes. Ugh.

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