Photography, Photos & VideosPicture of the week: Threesome

Picture of the week: Threesome

15 day old bluebird nestlings. Photo by C.

Photo by Cindy Groene of South Lyon, MI. These Eastern Bluebird nestlings hatched 15 days earlier. They successfully fledged 4 days after this photo, on 8/7/06. I like this photo because most monitors don’t get to see them at this age.

Typically monitors stop checking a nestbox 12-13 days (remember unlucky “13”) after bluebirds hatch, to avoid premature fledging. Premature fledgers that are unable to fly are much more susceptible to predation and bad weather. That is one reason why it’s important to keep good records, so you are able to calculate the age of nestlings.

inspection mirroIf you suspect problems (parents not observed feeding or removing fecal sacs, or seem very agitated, unexpected delay in fledging, etc.) it might make sense to carefully check inside the box even though it is after day 13. In this case, the weather had been extremely hot.

If experienced monitors are careful, the nestlings are used to checks, the box is opened slowly and quietly, and the check is brief, birds may stay put. Premature fledging from a top opening box is less likely, especially if the entrance is covered while checking. Last year I photographed in a Gilbertson box from egg to empty nest every day up through a late fledging, and never had any fledging attempts or even an indication of agitation on the part of the nestlings. You may be able to see inside without opening the box, or only opening it a crack, using a mechanics inspection mirror and a flashlight.

If bluebird babies do fly or jump out and you are able to catch them, it is VERY difficult to get them to stay in the box. You can try stuffing a sock/paper towel in the hole for about 15 minutes until they settle down, or putting a 1″ hole restrictor over the hole until they are really ready to go. This prevents them from jumping out again, but allows the parents to continue feeding. Be sure to remove it to enable appropriate fledging.

Note that this nest is constructed primarily of pine needles. Nest construction varies depending on individual preferences and available materials. There are some white flakes in the nest. These are probably just from the birds “shedding” as their feathers emerge.

Related topics:


Previous Pictures of the Week: © Original photographs are copyrighted, and may not be used without the permission of the photographer. Please honor their copyright protection. If you would like to use a photo for educational purposes, you can contact me.


 

You cannot begin to preserve any species of animal unless you preserve the habitat in which it dwells. Disturb or destroy that habitat and you will exterminate the species as surely as if you had shot it. So conservation means that you have to preserve forest and grassland, river and lake, even the sea itself. This is vital not only for the preservation of animal life generally, but for the future existence of man himself—a point that seems to escape many people.
-Gerald Durrell, The Nature Conservancy


Categories

Latest Articles