Bluebirds are now visible as a success story
If you are not one of the growing numbers of people who have taken a liking to bluebirds, now is perhaps a good time to start seeing them in action. While you will not usually find them coming to your feeders, they can now be seen busily tending to nesting chores.
With the warm March, many of these robin relatives returned early and got a jump start on the nesting season. Already there appear to be many bluebird nests with eggs, and a few that already have young. Once hatched, they will need a steady diet of insects, partially digested by their parents, to keep them alive and growing.
Those who work with bluebirds are excited to see the birds back. However, many are nervous that a late-spring cold spell, lengthy wet spell, or combination of both could cause abandonment of the nests by the adults, and death for the hatchlings.
If so, a second nesting attempt is usually made when the weather warms up. And if the first early attempt is successful, many adults will start a new batch of eggs as soon as the young have left the nest,
Probably our favorite family experience with bluebirds was the year the first four young all left the nest successfully and then stuck around to help feed the next batch of siblings. It was fun watching the parents and all the older siblings flitting about, catching insects on the fly, or dropping to the ground to pick up a caterpillar or beetle for the awaiting mouths.
There are still a few folks out there who remember when they were growing up that seeing bluebirds was almost as common as robins. At that time the birds were still able to find scattered trees near open prairie areas or even fence posts along pastures edges, both which served their nesting needs quite well.
With most of those trees and prairie areas decimated, and wooden fence posts replaced with metal ones, the bluebird numbers soon plummeted. Many of us who never knew of bluebirds growing up began seeing them the past couple of decades, once efforts to provide nesting boxes were undertaken by numerous groups and individuals.
As a result, bluebirds have made an amazing comeback and now can be commonly seen, although still not as easily as robins.
Many bluebird box providers will have trails of many boxes which they tend for the birds. Without close monitoring, they can often become homes for bluebird enemies such as house sparrows or wrens. So, if you are thinking of getting into bluebirds, check online to learn how to identify quality nesting areas. And be ready to spend lots of time not only enjoying them, but also tending the boxes, and occasionally having heartbreaking setbacks.
Or, if you want to leave the work to others, nesting boxes to watch at a distance can be found at Whitewater State Park, Quarry Hill, Chester Woods, and along roadsides. After watching bluebirds for a while, you will get familiar with their melodic calls and be able to pick them out at a distance just from the shape and size of their silhouette.