(Due to technical errors in the WordPress original post today, I am reposting.)
Not only am I experiencing the emotional empty-nest syndrome but truly my last nestbox became empty, not to bluebirds fledging, but to a clutch of 4 unhatched eggs. I watched this female stay true on these eggs from July 24th through August 3oth. The female Eastern Bluebird laid and stayed on these eggs, turning them daily, with no hatching action. It was a strange experience for me, wondering why. I checked this nest almost every day, taking photos as the eggs were turned. It has become apparent she finally gave up and abandoned the nest. I removed the nest. NOTE in the photo below all the very large seeds from the late-summer berries she consumed that have been deposited inside the pine needle nest by this incubating female (see right side and underneath eggs). OK, so, I have plans for the eggs — nothing goes to waste! — they will go in the gorgeous cedar and Plexiglas “display nestbox” handmade for me by a very talented woodworker using the Virginia Bluebird Society’s suggested nestbox design. Once I place the eggs in the display, I will dissect this nest and count the number of seeds deposited by this female. I enjoy learning what does a late-in-the-season incubating Eastern Bluebird eat other than the overabundance of grasshoppers, katydids, beetles, spiders, moths, grubs, butterflies, and slowly-floating bumble and carpenter bees? Bluebirds eat mostly insects during the spring and continue throughout summer. As summer ends, more berries become available. Dogwood berries are red now and pokeweed berries have been available for several weeks. In winter months, depending on the locale, berries are the main diet since insects become less available in the colder weather. Bluebirds in the northern parts migrate south to have access to the berries available in the warmer winter climates. Most bluebirds in Virginia do not migrate and are year-round residents.
Empty-nest syndrome, for me, also includes the migration watch in spring and also in the late summer for our ruby-throated hummingbirds. I consistently make a gallon of sugar-water per day to accommodate the hundreds we have here at our house. Most have left and the migrators from the north are showing up, some singly, and some in numbers during stops. The overnight rests allow me additional joys as I watch the tiny, hovering, mystical fairies. Once they are gone, there is a somewhat bittersweet feeling of knowing nature is working and now I must wait to see them again. The miracles of nature will always comfort me as I continue the glorious days of living in the mountains of the Blue Ridge. House Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, and Eastern Bluebirds were the species in my nestboxes this year. Thankfully, the House Wrens caused minimal damage to bluebirds eggs laid this year. As always, the chickadees struggle to fledge successfully one brood per year. The past two years showed me how the chickadees seem to become more aggressive for nestbox usage with other species. This must be the survival instinct to procreate their species.
My website/blog here is under new material and layout of information. Since I’m expanding my trail to a goal of 30 nestboxes by February 2013, I am holding off posting photos of the nestboxes. More good news comes with the successful deterrence of House Sparrows using the Two-Holer Test Mansion, which fledged THREE BROODS OF EASTERN BLUEBIRDS! No House Sparrows attempted to nest this year, and the bluebirds won the territory of that nestbox! That is truly GOOD NEWS. That page on my site is currently being worked on for a summary of this 3-year test. I plan on revamping the TEST RESULTS page, and more. The Facebook page has become a great success—I’m finding it easier to post photos there as well as update followers. It allows others to ask questions and have me answer in an easier-to-use format.
As September is now upon us, I am collecting my own data, monitors in my two counties, and will be submitting these details soon to the Virginia Bluebird Society and others, including Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As I remember all the interesting details from this year from my trail and others, I will be sending through another post here to explain all the new interesting happenings. Year after year, there is always something new!