Background Switcher (Hidden)

Checking the Bluebird Boxes

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two weeks is a long time to leave one’s boxes in bluebird nesting season. Lots of things can happen while you’re gone. One of the last things I did before leaving for Trinidad was check the boxes, and checking them will be one of the first things I’ll do on getting home. Right now, I'm putting away food from our apres-vacation trip to Columbus' twin emporiums of foodie pleasure: Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. I'm also spraying scale-infested orchids, burning trash, taking stock of the (well-watered) gardens, emptying the dishwasher, sorting mail, hugging Chet Baker and kissing Charlie, smooching the kids, reading 305 emails, cleaning Charlie's room, trying to figure out what's for dinner, tracking the rotten smells in the know the drill.

The kids usually come along when we check boxes. Here, Liam gently touches some nestling bluebirds before Daddy hangs the Gilbertson PVC box back up on its post.

Sometimes one or more eggs don’t hatch, and when I’m sure there’s no hope that they will (after the other nestlings are three days old) I open them up to see what’s what. Almost always, they turn out to be infertile, and the embryo has never developed. Phoebe holds a couple of infertile eggs about to have theirselfs analyzed. She's working on her naturalist Vanna White chops.

And then there are the eggs that do hatch. I love opening the box at just the moment of hatching.

A bluebird hatchling, having pipped and cut all around the big end of his egg prison, wears his shelltop like a helmet. Enh! Enh! I closed up the box and tiptoed away.

When they’re very young, nestlings think I’m Mom, and they beg for food at the slightest stimulus.

It’s good to be back, and see things like this again.


Beautiful! I love the idea of the baby bird wearing his egg top like a helmet--you can't be too safe!

You've got some lucky kids. Welcome home.

Welcome home! "Tracking the rotten smells in the fridge" - one of my favorite morning after things to do with compost bag in hand, nose held. And fore some reason, I can't rest or relax until I've greeted and inspected and touched every single plant - and takes some time. I used to caress the leaves and kiss the blooms until a praying mantis hitched a ride on my lip.

Checking the bluebird boxes is so much fun. My second batch of Bluebirds has resulted in a single hatchling who is making great progress. It's such a pleasure and privilige to have these birds as neigbors.

Welcome home. I love the photos of the baby bluebirds. Can't wait to see the photos from your trip!

Welcome home Julie!

Baby bird with wide open mouth--love it. I can practically hear the "FEED ME" through the blogosphere.
And welcome home.

Welcome home! Love your blog, haven't commented before. But I was taken aback by the "burning trash" element of your return-home chores and had to comment.

Yikes! Not sure what you're burning, but there's not much besides vegetative matter that's good to burn. I've worked for years in the pollution prevention field, and we now know that burning garbage is the largest source of dioxin pollution in the entire country, worse than any industry. Not a good thing for kids, dogs OR bluebirds, I'd imagine.

More info available at

Thanks for considering this!

Thanks for your concern, gtr, and most of all for your politeness. I've been recycling plastic, glass, aluminum, steel, cardboard and clean newspapers since 1981, separating it and hauling it all into town. I compost everything organic in a pit so the remaining trash isn't too smelly. The only thing I burn is poopy bird cage papers and other paper trash. No other material gets in; we separate it all religiously. Given how long newspaper can survive in a landfill (decades) and the room it takes up, I believe that a fast, hot burn is the best way to dispose of the cage papers, since they can't be recycled. Maybe I'm wrong. But it's important to understand how it is out here. When you live 18 miles from town and there is no big truck that will roll up and take care of your garbage, you have to sort it, live with it, and get rid of it in the best way you can. Some of my neighbors throw it all down the nearest embankment. I recycle, compost, and burn what's burnable, and that does not include dioxin-releasing plastic or metal.

That is something I have never seen before. Truly incredible!


great pics, and neat how you are watching them hatch, great for the kids to learn. (found you through nature blog network



Thanks for following up! Sounds like you are doing the responsible thing. Make sense to burn the poopy papers, I guess.

I wish everyone rural was as conscientious. My neighbor is still burning things like mattresses... UG. Keep up the good work and spread the word!

[Back to Top]