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About Those Bluebirds

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I got back from Boston around 10 pm Monday night. Nine hours had elapsed since I left my sister's home in Harvard MA, until I finally rolled up my driveway in Ohio. And that was taking a commuter train, a subway, and an airplane, then driving two hours from the airport home. My gosh, I could almost have driven it in that time. It was a good exercise, not renting a car; fine if you have the time to blow two or three hours here and there catching trains and tubes to your destination, and you don't mind rolling your suitcase behind you. I just wanted to see if it could be done.

Chet was so happy to have me home again, he got up on a kitchen chair to be near me while I answered some correspondence and wrote a blogpost before sunrise Tuesday morning. His devotion never fails to melt my heart. Little CatDog, sleepin' in the sun, curled up on a chair.

I couldn't wait to grab Chet and trot out to the bluebird boxes to see what had happened with the runt bluebird and its host family. First I checked the host family in the box out by the garden. All four chicks are strapping and growing well after their blowfly purge. Here they are at Day 12. Wing feathers are bursting the sheaths, and feathers cover their upper bodies. They no longer need to be brooded at night, and they're getting so big their mom doesn't want to try. 


Peeking again the same afternoon (June 28), when their wing feathers are a bit farther out of the sheath, I find all four to be females! See how gray-brown they are, unrelieved by blue? Now I'm burning to know whether the runt is a girl, too. I've had a feeling it is.

I head out on our road toward the box, a half-mile distant, where Liam and I transplanted the runt from this brood, so it could have a chance of growing up amongst siblings three days younger.

On the way, I'm arrested by the sight of the first blossoms of pink chicory, which sprouts from hardy perennial roots every year along our road.

A mutation of the normal periwinkle blue chicory, it's been growing in this very spot for a very long time. 

July 10, 2007

A very long time indeed.

July 6, 2004

I don't have a little girl to pose with it any more, but I do have a little black dog who enjoys bombing my flower shots, giving me a laugh when he thinks I need one.

If the front view was not so good, this one is spectacular. There. Try that shot. I have the best rumpus.

Enough chicory and dogbutt photography. We have bluebirds to view! 

With growing excitement I pried the hayfield box off its mount. Peeked inside. And yes, I could tell the foster chick from the others right away, but the differences are still pleasingly subtle. 

It's the one on the right top, its bill pointing down. You can see its wing quills, still firmly in their sheaths, and feathers are sprouting along its spine and head. It's 11 days old, and its foster siblings are 8 days old, and things are going perfectly. Yes, it's a wee bit ahead of them, but plenty of food and a comfortable margin, a head start, is exactly what it needed to survive. 

I can't wait to learn its sex, but that will be at least two days from now. 

My beautiful experiment, eet ees workink!!


Hey Julie,
Heard you on Wisconsin Public Radio on Thursday. Excellent show! I'm in the midst of reading
Baby Birds - another great book - thanks so much for all you do.

So glad BluebirdRunt is doing well! Please keep us in the loop about him/her. (Let us know which!)

Posted by Anonymous June 30, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Such wonderful news about those bluebirds. I love your beautiful heartfelt interventions. Thank you!

Received my book and am enthralled! Thanks for this exciting intervention!

Posted by Anonymous June 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM

When I worked as a park ranger, and people would ask me why we didn't "take care" of that pesky poison ivy, I would explain that we weren't gardening. But to be honest, with so many of us here now on the planet, we kind of are. So keep on gardening the bluebirds!

All on tenderhooks for next installment on little transplanted bb and wondering about your feeling that it's a girl. We shall see...

Posted by Gail Spratley June 30, 2016 at 7:43 PM

the blog is very useful, interesting and informative. thank you for sharing the blog with us. keep on updating.
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What Sathya said! Very interesting, love the stories, the flowers, Chet (of course, I am owned by two Boston Terriers)the beautiful scenery. Thanks Julie, I appreciate all your efforts!

Such a wonderful story; I love happy endings!

I have a question. Someone I follow on Instagram showed a beautiful nest with five eggs, two of which she knew to be cowbirds. (The other two were small, ovoid, speckled medium blue.) Knowing that the nest builder's offspring will have no chance, would you have removed the cowbird eggs?

Hi MIchelle.

I follow her now, too. Pretty sure you're talking about the same account. Starts with an M? I private messaged her advising her to remove the cowbird eggs, but she said she wanted to see what would happen. Yes, I would have removed them; I know what happens. Advice isn't always taken, best you can do sometimes is try. If I recall, it was a cardinal nest, and I think two cardinals hatched and the cowbird eggs didn't, so it all turned out OK in the end.

No, the account is westbrook_acres. I just left another comment in response to a question by another follower; I guess that's all we can do. :-(

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