Jul 08 2009

Harried Mom

Published by at 7:21 am under Bird Behavior,Songbirds


Three eastern bluebirds beg from their mother (photo by Kim Steininger)

Poor Mama Bluebird!  Which mouth should she feed?  No matter which one she picks the other two will still be begging.

Despite appearances, having three fledged babies is a great sign of success.  As I've learned from watching robin nests it's a huge challenge to get a baby bird to this stage.

People who tend bluebird boxes know exactly what I mean.  At the start of the season there's the threat of cold, wet weather that suppresses their food supply (insects) and causes the babies to starve.  Then there are blowflies and other nasty parasites who kill the young.  Snakes, raccoons and cats take their toll, and bluebirds, like tree swallows, face competition for nest sites.  Since they're the least aggressive of the cavity nesters, bluebirds take it on the chin.  The worst are the house sparrows who claim all the nest sites in their territory and kill bluebird adults and young, even in boxes the sparrows don't intend to use.

Fortunately for bluebirds, people watch out for them and help by removing whatever threats we can.  It's a symbiotic relationship in which bluebirds nest successfully and we get the enjoyment of watching a very sweet and beautiful bird. 

If your neighborhood doesn't have open fields to support nesting bluebirds, you can now watch them nesting online.  Check out the PA Game Commission's bluebird nest box camera at their Harrisburg Headquarters.  You won't see this fledgling activity but you'll get a glimpse inside the box. 

So congratulations, Mama Bluebird!  Soon your babies will be on their own.  Whew!

(photo by Kim Steininger)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Harried Mom”

  1. Margaret Sloan (Ulili)on 08 Jul 2009 at 1:51 pm

    What a wonderful shot! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Billon 08 Jul 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Quite a wonderful photo depicting the dilemma mom bluebird has with one worm and three youngsters!

  3. Leslieon 15 Jul 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for providing that nestcam site, but I’m a little disturbed by what I see. Instead of brooding the chicks, the parent keeps pecking away at the straw around them and won’t let them sleep. I’ve just been watching the past 15 minutes, so maybe this is normal, but it almost looks like (s)he’s trying to grab parasites. Is this behavior ok?

  4. Leslieon 15 Jul 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I feel relieved that what appears to be the youngest one with the skinniest neck has just been fed and was gaping well. These nestcams turn me into the biggest worrywart sometimes! Must keep telling self-“They know what they’re doing.”

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