I watch the birds nesting near my home. Are they OK? Will a House Sparrow kill the Bluebird babies like it killed the Tree Swallows? I saved one newborn Swallow out of six in that nest. Then there are the Mourning Doves in a nest of sticks in the rain gutter outside my bedroom window. Will their two eggs survive the unrelenting rain?
A few weeks ago, I noticed a Bluebird male perched for hours on the peak of the barn roof. He has a mate somewhere, I decided. But where? I find her in a new, never used nesting box downhill from my house. When I’m sure she’s out, I peek in and find six blue eggs. Can they survive the extreme weather? Will the House Sparrow kill them, too?
I tie a “sparrow spooker” to the perch above the nesting box, just a shiny ribbon hanging from the pole so it can blow in the wind. I read that after laying one egg, the Bluebird Mama won’t desert the nest. It’s worth a try.
After two days of torrential rain, I walk down the hill between downpours while the Bluebird male watches me. I tap on the door of the nesting box, assuming the Mama will leave if she’s still there with her eggs. There’s no movement inside.
Invading her privacy and home, I open the side door of the box just a crack. I see blue feathers. Not dark feathers of the male, but pale blue and oh so still. I close the door, not wanting to scare her, but my camera is in my bag which I carry when I walk, so I open the door a second time, a little wider and even slower.
Her big black eyes look up at me, focused and unafraid. She lies on her side, her body filling the round nest cup like a feather comforter in a crib. She watches, but doesn’t flee out the round door at the front of the box. I snap a photo, gently close the door, and walk away.
Are there eggs hidden under her prone body? I can’t tell, but the next day when the rain stops, I walk down the hill again with Mr. Bluebird watching me. It’s a good sign he’s still guarding. I knock on the box and crack open the door. Mama is out for breakfast and all six eggs are there.
I return a few days later and three eggs have hatched. The next day, there are no blue unhatched eggs but a lovely pile of fluffy baby birds. I want to count the number, but they lie on top of each other, tiny, sleepy, and well fed. I count five mouths and five fuzzy heads, but there could be a sixth at the bottom of the baby pile. A few days later I saw all six eager for life.
It’s been a hard week in the human world of violence, war, and climate crisis, and in my personal life with the sudden death of a close friend since the 1970s. Little Bluebird Mama, you restore my faith in Nature and help me trust in the protection of the Divine Mother.
A friend Anne sent this quote by William Sloane Coffin, Jr., “I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings.”
Do you grow flowers or vegetables or tend animals? It’s been a challenging summer everywhere. For other posts about an easier year with Bluebirds, see When the Bluebirds Fledged. For a post about finding comfort in hard times see The Comfort of Small Things.