Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 4. Too much Bluebirds!

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
A perfect spring day--sunny, green, and cool--highlighted by newly arrived yellow warblers, a kestrel hovering over the field, and the croaks of a pair of ravens flying overhead.
Box 2 Eastern Bluebird
Box 2 bluebirds are now up to five eggs. Box 11 bluebirds are now up to--actually I don't know because the female refused to leave the nest.
Box 4
We now have a bona fide chickadee nest (unless the swallows decide build over the top of it).
Box 5 House Sparrow
The house sparrows are still in control of some key boxes but they are losing ground. The full nest I spotted last week in box 5 is now a handful of grass. (I do believe someone else is "helping" me manage nest boxes).
Box 8
The first sign of trouble was box 8. When I opened the door I saw a dark form, unmoving. I gave the side of the box a few whacks. No response. I pulled out the nest. And although the tree swallow was dead, it was completely intact. No apparent sign of violence. I wonder if it froze or starved to death during the recent chill. Or whether the killing blow was so quick and efficient the bird never knew what hit it.
Box 9
I'm not going to point fingers, but it does appear we have a pair of troublemakers next door. Last week, there was a beautiful feather-topped tree swallow nest in box 9. Today it was all bluebird. I watched as the male slipped into the box and flew out with something in its beak. Binoculars confirmed it was a white feather.
Box 9 nest
Inside the box, a single white egg smashed and soaking into the feathers and grass. It appears that our third pair of bluebirds have overthrown the tree swallows. I pulled the nest, lest the smashed egg soil the new nest the bluebirds evidently have planned for the spot.

[8/29 UPDATE: Just in case you are doubting the ruthlessness of the bluebird... I found a bluebird nest today at Ridge Hill that was built on top of a deceased tree swallow. Meanwhile, at the CRP the tree swallows are battling furiously to retain box 9]

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