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These Bluebirds Know Me

Sunday, January 5, 2014

December 28 was a stunning, crystal blue day in the upper 40's here in southeast Ohio. I had commitments all afternoon, but by God I was going to get out, so I set out on my run at 7:45 AM before it got warm. Now that Clarence the bus driver has retired, and I don't have to (or rather, can't) meet him at the cemetery for my morning story at 7:20, I can choose any time of day to run. So I often wait until the sun peeks out, if it's going to, or until it warms up, if it will, or until it stops raining, if it pleases the weather gods.

My agenda this morning was to make it to Waxler Church, two miles distant, while the early morning sun was hitting the building and the stones. I couldn't wait to see the transformation. I'd only viewed it in gloomy weather, and it was so beautiful then.

I kept hitting delays. The first delay was a row of a dozen (a dozen!!) eastern bluebirds, lined neatly up on a powerline at the corner of my township road and the county road. Oh, what a beautiful sight. When I see a whole bunch of bluebirds, I love to speculate whom amongst them might have been raised in one of my 25 nest boxes. Of course I generally speculate that at some point I've touched every one of them in my nest checks, and if I do say so myself, that's a fair speculation. I've had these boxes up since the mid 90's, and they crank almost 100 fledglings out each season. I probably started with the great-great-great-great grandparents of these birds, and I'd bet that every one of them has seen my face peering in at them throughout the first two weeks of its life, poor creatures. Kind of a neat thought.

So I peered up at these bluebirds, loath to frighten them by trotting by, yet wanting to get to the church on time for the sun which I knew would be blasting through its old panes in a very short time. I stopped and gazed up at them, making them nervous, and a few made little sorties out from the wire. They didn't want to leave the flock, but they didn't like being stared at, either.

 I shot a few pictures of this fine lineup, a dozen bits of pure beauty and song and life, the first such gathering I'd seen this winter.  And I slowly and respectfully started toward them, hoping to pass by without frightening them. They looked so cozy, lined up in the sun.

But of course, no bluebird in its right mind is going to sit while a woman and a dog pass right beneath it. It's got to fly. And sure enough, the flock lifted off when we got uncomfortably close. Well, most of the flock.

All but two. Two females. 

Who sat calmly looking down at us, this scary human and her predatory black animal. 

Hello there, Elsa! Hi, sweet Ida!!

Hi Zickmama! Hi Chet!

They never flew. We had quite a chat. I told them I was glad to see them, told them I hoped they'd catch back up with the flock, asked them to come visit me soon. You know where I live, darling girls! The rest of the flock had long disappeared over the horizon, voicing alarm calls, but Elsa and Ida sat tight and watched us until we were out of sight. If you don't know the story, you can find out how I obtained and finished raising these orphaned bluebirds here. 

Or you can simply peruse the July archives
and the August archives from 2013. Many baby bluebird posts there.

Seeing them and realizing who they were was a moment. 

It was so very good to see them again.

Empirical evidence only, of course. I have no bands or gizmos with which to prove my theory that these two unaccountably tame birds had been hand-raised. But both my head and my heart point to that.

We ran on.

And the song of the bluebird was upon the land, the first time I'd heard them singing all winter. A lone cardinal chimed in, and together they lifted my heart.


Very neat pic of Chet running with your shadow!

What a great and heart-warming post. :) Thanks for the link to the video as well...adorable and interesting to see the learning curve.

Thank you for providing habitat and nest've gone a long way toward establishing that flock, I'm sure.

With only two acres, we have only one pair of bluebirds each year (although, I should try to put up yet another box as far away from their favorite as I can and see what happens.

Each year, we've had a pair choose the same box...I'd like to believe it is the same pair each year, but I really have no way of knowing. It could be that this particular nestbox is just recognized by any of their species as being in the ideal location.

Thank you for sharing your uplifting experience. I hope to begin to see a small flock here some day...however, this winter, seeing at least three bluebirds is still a thrill for me.


Lovely post to read on this very, very snowy and cold day in Chicago.

Posted by January 5, 2014 at 11:21 AM

So beautiful!! I also was thrilled to see what I assume are "my" bluebirds returning to the feeders. I put up nest boxes for the first time this year and my pair raised two broods. A group of bluebirds landed and went right to the three places where I put out mealworms and sunflower chips. They knew where to look! And they peeked in my kitchen windows liked they used to and said hello. I've had others drop by that did not know the layout of the feeding stations and wandered about. Great pictures and story, Julie!

Posted by Anonymous January 7, 2014 at 9:09 AM
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