PHOTOS OF AN INCUBATING FEMALE BLUEBIRD: DID SHE TRUST ME?


I am posting several photos taken on my trail check administered on Monday, June 13.  On occasion, I’ll find a female bluebird not wanting to leave the nest. I always carefully open a box so as not to spook her. I talk or whistle my tunes as I approach a box to give her or her hatched young fair warning I am approaching. This is the box that recently had a carpenter bee. After I took care of the bee, she returned a few days later to finish nest building.  Theory again on my part, but I’ve noticed with my monitoring schedule that  the birds don’t seem to fear me looking in their nestboxes–never more than twice a week as that is over-managing the
birds. Unless I have a special problem to deal with, I might monitor more than twice a week.  I really wanted to share these photos on my site because this female was particularly interested in me, showing her face and letting me see her and her eggs. She even let me watch her turn her eggs with her feet. Generally, I advise new monitors to be very quiet and quick and careful while opening a nestbox to check on the birds; however, in my case, I have learned how to take photos without spooking the birds–more
experienced monitors can do this–it seems the bluebirds in particular are very trusting of us. Other birds, such as the House Wren and the Black-capped or Carolina Chickadee (the species here in SW Virginia) is more stressed by our presence, so when monitoring boxes with them using a nestbox, we must be particularly diligent to respect their solitude to be sure they do not abandon their nests because they are frightened of us. I was able to successfully take some pictures of a Carolina Chickadee nest and young yesterday, as well; I’m glad I did, as I found one baby is not developing as well as the others. That will be another post soon. I may have to start a new tabbed page on other cavity nesting birds. What you see below is this female bluebird who is sitting on a clutch of 4 eggs. I’m so glad she is enjoying this box—the same box that I had to deter a carpenter bee from boring a hole. I hope you enjoy the pictures below.  Photographing nesting birds can be tricky.  Be sure you don’t spook them too much if you choose to do it.   Never do this during the morning hours–the females lay eggs in the morning–she is laboring and breathing heavily as she lays one egg per day.  She is at her most vulnerable at this time.   I ALWAYS monitor my trail in the afternoons.  I never monitor on very cold days or rainy days.   I wait until it’s a good time that is safe for the birds first, and then what is convenient for me.  (My next post…. in a few days…..will be about the beautiful cavity-nester, the Brown-headed Nuthatch!)

Mrs. Bluebird is watching me watching her!

Though she's on "high alert" here, she allowed me to peek on her eggs, as she stood in front of them. However, I DO NOT RECOMMEND new bluebirders keeping a box opened for a long period of time if the female won't leave the box for you to check on the eggs. You can try again another day. I was able to take these photos without the use of flash fairly quickly. When we spend extra time at a box, we risk spooking the female to possibly abandon her clutch. I don't make a regular practice of photographing an incubating female. This girl stayed true to her eggs. A House Sparrow attack on this female could have been deadly. More than likely she would die to protect her eggs. However, the bluebirds are very tolerant of us looking in on them.

I llike this picture--it really shows her tail markings well.

She let me watch while she did this. I snapped the picture and quietly and quickly closed the box and left her alone.

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