What Bluebirds Teach Me About Not Giving Up

Dear Bluebird Mama,

Earlier this week, I saw you carrying dried grasses inside a nesting box while your mate flew from barn peak to birdhouse perch to crimson maple tree.

I watched from inside through Vic’s astronomy telescope. About three decades ago, he and I set up two boxes on opposite ends of an old fence, and your ancestor moved in that spring.

1st nestling snuggling with unhatched eggs

Male bluebird guarding second nest








This year, your first nesting was troubled. Instead of the usual four or five eggs, there were three and only one hatched. Hours after your well-tended single daughter fledged, I cleaned out your nest. Usually, a bluebird chooses a new site, but in a few days, your mate began guarding from his perches around the yard.

Mama Bluebird

Female fledgling from 1st nest still being fed











My heart filled with hope when I opened the nesting box and saw your woven circular nest. When you sit on your perch, your gray-blue feathers shine in the morning sun. Your mate is easy to spot with his iridescent cerulean back and orange breast. He and I are on high alert. Yesterday morning you spent 10 minutes in the nest. I don’t know how long it takes to lay an egg, but hoped you’d laid one.

I crave new life in this distressing world. Your mate’s morning warble and your nest building bring me hope.









Today, I found one blue egg in your nest and expect another tomorrow. “Hope is a thing with feathers,” Emily Dickinson wrote. May her words predict a happy ending.


By the time I posted this piece, there were four eggs since she lays just one a day. It’s possible there will be five tomorrow, but four is a balanced, complete number. I’m grateful for new life out my windows. What makes you hopeful in these challenging times?

For other posts about Bluebirds, see When the Bluebirds Fledged. For a post about surrendering to Nature, see Witnessing a Catastrophe? Search for Small Miracles.

Blessed Solstice!

  1. Dear Elaine,

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful, hope (and love!) filled post. Fab photos as always! As I age and follow Mama Gaia through Her seasons, I sense that I’m discovering wisdom every which way I turn these days, especially here in June’s fledging season. For this year, following the deaths of my parents, I’ve learnt how to “let go” with love and not “hold on” to what’s been and gone but enjoy the “here and now” without focussing too much on what’s coming next. I guess you feel the same whilst watching the bluebirds and how a little determination can go a very long way.

    Sending you love, light and Solstice blessings across the oceans and oaks between us, Deborah.

    • Deborah, I always find it astounding that wild things never give up and keep trying against all odds. I started the morning with the little fledgling on the roof of the nesting box where her mama is incubating the new clutch of eggs. I imagined her calling, “Mama, Mama, what about me?” Soon after, I saw the fledgling following her papa everywhere as he found caterpillars for her and her mom. I think she’s on her way to becoming a daddy’s girl. Because there is only one fledgling, I get to watch how the papa and little daughter relate to each other without the distractions of other siblings. It’s fascinating–but then I’m easily fascinated by nature. (I had a whole other post written, but had to share this one about the bluebirds. The other blog will wait a few weeks.)

      The oak trees are doing well with only a few holes in the leaves. I’m not so sure about the ocean or even our beautiful lakes which are struggling with warming water from climate change plus a bitcoin operation dumping warm water in the other end of the lake. I call the governor and then try to forget about the lake’s troubles and just enjoy her. Sending you Solstice love and long warm days until Lammas.

  2. Hi dear Elaine,

    I so love your photos and stories!

    A bluebird pair frolics back and forth between two nest boxes about on fenceposts in my backyard, at the western edge of the City of Ithaca. I’m terrified to get too close and don’t have the benefit of a telescope or good camera. These lovelies keep returning year after year, even though I’m negligent and don’t even always clean up after them. I can see them sail into their box with yummy morsels, and I can hear the young’uns twitter, but that’s about it. I consider myself a lazy, lucky partner with nature who hasn’t had to put up guards against marauders yet, shhh. Definitely, nature provides the greatest joy, and at times disappointment. How long have the predecessors of this feathered family flown the space? I consider it “my backyard,” and then have to remember who was here first.

    Love, Myra

    • Hi Myra, I’m glad the bluebirds are there. (I love my binoculars, by the way. Steve Smolen encouraged me to invest in a decent model, not the most expensive) and it was the best idea for a woman who doesn’t have a TV). I didn’t have trouble with predators for 20+ years–and then I did. I always clean out the boxes after nesting season, but this year since the first clutch had such troubles, I cleaned out the box after the one female fledged. It’s been adorable watching her follow her daddy around begging for food. A daddy’s girl since there are no siblings. Sometimes he waits until she’s distracted and zooms toward the nesting box to feed his incubating mate. Yesterday evening, I saw the young one perched near the box alone. I hope papa came and guided her to the woods before dark. I love hearing from you–and Nature heals my heart even when my body struggles.

  3. We’ve come home for a visit, to the south shore of Lake Superior, where my daughter was born and buried. I see the lupine standing tall in the morning sun. People are up shortly after sunrise. The town is quiet and moves at a slower pace than most places. Some things have changed here but most have not. I’m not sure why, but that gives me hope and helps me feel grounded.

    • Dear Monica, thanks for sharing your life story which begins with the intensity of a daughter born and buried. Such sadness and yet those lupines are there, tall and blue and full of hope. And sunrise, a quiet town, a slower pace, and a grounded feel. I’m grateful you were able to make such an important trip. I went to high school in southern Michigan, but never saw the shores of Lake Superior. Sounds like I missed something delightful. Sending peace and love.

  4. Elaine, you are the very best practitioner of Wordsworth’s wisdom:
    And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
    He, too, is no mean preacher:
    Come forth into the light of things,
    Let Nature be your teacher. (Tables Turned)

    I agree, binoculars are much better than any TV channel for viewing the beauties of nature. Thank you for providing this lovely space for your readers to share their joys, their sorrows–and enjoy your lessons from the natural world, ever persistent.

    • As you know, Nature is my best and most soothing teacher these days. That wasn’t always so. Thank you for sharing Wordsworth, Marian. I love the bluebirds and have a dozen Monarch chrysalises on my back porch. When these become butterflies, there’s ample milkweed all over my fields and they’ll lay eggs. Lots of eggs, I hope. May you have a delightful summer with time to do nothing at all except watch the world’s beauty. Thanks for responding even though you’re taking a break. (That’s the rumor.) Sending love your way.

  5. A great lesson, dear Elaine. Thank you! It helps us these days because we have a few such worries around us, but might not, for one of them: is about Regina’s mother, who seems don’t want to stay here on this Earth anymore langer. It is a hard time for my wife as I had experienced it with Al at almost the same time 15 years ago. Let’s the end comes to grieve. Blessings.

    • Beauty holds me together these days–watching birds and butterflies as the world seems to implode with crisis. I’m sad for Regina, but glad her mom knows if/when it’s time to go and glad she’s clear about it. I’m going through this with a close friend whose mother is in her 90s and has been robust and strong until now, but she’s close to death after being ill a week or 2 and refuses heroic measures. I think she’s wise. I’ve talked to my sons about this many times and it’s in my living will. No heroic measures! We all have to face our death. The bluebirds don’t talk it over or make it a drama. They just deal with the full catastrophe and try again. I hope our world gets a chance to recover, but we’re in a rough place in this country. We no longer have a horrible president but there are other alarming politicians, and we’ll be living with the policies of the not-so-supreme court for a long, long time. And then there is poor Ukraine. So we pray for peace, inner and outer. Sending blessings to you, Regina, and her mother.

      • True! As I am following the news it breaks my heart. And as I expected today she left her body forever. Strangely the same day as Al left his. Take care, my lovely Elaine and stay tuned. ❤️

        • You and Regina will always remember to grieve together–and that could be a big help. More readings and candles to light. I’m glad Regina’s mother could leave her body without lingering any longer and I hope Regina is OK with feeling sad. Blessings.

  6. Oh yes! As you mentioned, it’s good that it didn’t take that long. Regina goes with it well and sensibly, and I help her in that way as much as I can. Thank you, dear friend.

  7. What a beautiful post. I hope their daughter thrives and their new brood does, too.

    I find hope in nature and also in acts of kindness. There is still so much goodness in our world if you sit quietly and look for it.

    • I saw the young female this morning in a crabapple tree with her Papa. He takes off and she flies after him. I depend on Nature to keep my head above water these days. It’s a violent and scary time in the world and in the US. We have lots of work to do to return to democracy. We can do it!

  8. Dear Elaine,
    Ah, your post was just what I needed at this troubling time. It especially warmed my heart to read about the little fledgling who is a daddy’s girl — and made me wonder if you ever might write a children’s book about them one day.

    I have been taking longer and longer walks these days and, like you, am so very fortunate to be able to walk out my front door surrounded by nature’s beauty. Our dog, Blue, runs ahead of me, but always waits to make sure I’m still there before he gets too far ahead. Walking in beauty never fails to soothe me, and often I choose a mantra to say on the in and out breaths; lately it’s been “peace in my heart, peace in the world” or “so many ways, to love the world.”

    Sending love and summer blessings your way, Anne

    • I hadn’t thought of writing a children’s book, but this is a sweet story. I’m glad you’re able to take longer walks, Anne. Mine are shortened by heat unless I go before breakfast. That’s the best time for the dog’s, too. They stay with me, so they’re great companions. Disco needs more training in always coming, even if she doesn’t want the walk to end. We’re working on it. I love your mantras. The first one feels essential right now. Returning love and blessings to you.

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