In many cultures, the bluebird is a symbol of happiness and prosperity. In my experience they have been welcome and frequent visitors in my life. When I moved to rural Western Kentucky in 1985, the bluebirds were already there on the farmstead waiting for me. Initially I grew birdhouse gourds and made gourd houses for them, which they readily accepted. But the gourds were hard to monitor and clean out, and didn’t last long out in the elements.
Then I started making houses for them from cedar lumber, following North American Bluebird Society recommendations. I gave the houses to neighbors and friends far and wide. When I sold the farm in 2007, I left the new owners a book on bluebirds as well as several mounted houses. Then I moved across the river to Indiana to reclaim my Hoosier citizenship, and for the first time in 22 years I was without bluebirds. But not for long.
I’ve posted a bit in the past about bluebirds we’ve seen here at Happy Acres. They’ve visited here several times, checking out the accommodations, but never decided to settle in and raise a family. Until now, that is.
Last year in May when I opened the wooden nest box I saw a house wren nest with eggs. The wrens raised one brood of young, and I cleaned the box out for the next occupants. Earlier this week I opened the box to check on it, and was surprised to find a fully formed bluebird nest with 6 blue eggs in it! While I was checking out the box, the male and female bluebird were checking me out.
Normally an Eastern Bluebird nest is made of 100% fine grasses, or a mix of grasses and pine needles. This one is a mix of grasses and some green mossy material. That’s an interesting choice, since pine needles were available around our blueberries and azaleas. This pair obviously had other ideas on how to build a nest!
I can’t believe I didn’t see the bluebirds before now. They had to build the nest, making a lot of trips in and out of the box, then it took probably 5 or 6 days for the female to lay the eggs. Normally the female doesn’t start incubating the eggs until the last one is laid, so that they all hatch at more or less the same time. The incubation period is usually 12 to 14 days.
I’ll try and check the box a few times each week to see when the babies hatch. I’ll wait for a warm day, because the female will be sitting on the nest a lot when it’s cold outside.
I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have bluebirds back in my life again. I look forward to posting more about their progress. So far they’ve been camera shy, but hopefully they won’t mind the paparazzi trying to get some photos of them and the family!