Bluebirds Nesting: April Delight

Eastern Bluebirds nest in Eliza Howell Park regularly, but in quite small numbers. They usually arrive for the beeeding season in March and begin nesting in early April. While a pair might use one of the bird nesting boxes that have been placed in the park, most seem to prefer finding a tree cavity in a wooded area, away from viewers like me.

This week I found a pair making a nest in a cavity in a small dead tree near the river. Since it is a very uncommon experience for me to find Bluebirds nesting in tree cavities, I asked Margaret for a photograpic record.

All the photos below were taken by Margaret Weber. Thank you.

The Bluebird is a popular bird in American culture, often featured in songs, poetry, and greeting cards. It is associated with happiness, with love, with beauty, and with sprng. The blue of the male (above) is striking, especially in sunshine in the breeding season. The less bright female is also lovely.

Almost exactly one year ago I watched as a pair of Black-capped Chickadees were working at this location, enlarging this hole for a possible nesting site. They might have started the excavation themselves but it looked to me at the time that the surface opening was not new, that it might have been started another year by Downy Woodpeckers. So the Bluebirds are the second or the third bird species to claim this cavity.

The nest, mostly of dried grass, is constructed inside the cavity primarily by the female, though the male brings some of the material to her.

Soon the female will begin laying eggs, perhaps a total of four. She does most, but not all, of the incubation, which lasts up to 19 days. Both parents tend the young in the nest, for up to three weeks. The male sometimes feeds the fledglings while the female starts incubating a second brood. (Bluebirds usually have 2 broods a year, which is perhaps a reason for starting this early in the spring.)

But today they are still nest building.

They are a delight to watch. And given the association with happiness and love, it seems especially fitting that the stem in the beak of the male (second last picture) is looped in the shape of a heart.

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