July 18, 2023

A Bluebird Mama Gives Me Faith in Nature

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.


  1. July 31, 2023 at 6:06 pm



    Dear Elaine, Your miraculous photos are a salve for the soul during these difficult times. This is the first day of our “smoke season”, with helicopters carrying buckets of water flying overhead all day. I was sorry to hear of the sudden death of a close friend. It is especially difficult when we can’t say goodbye. I am glad the community came together to remember and celebrate her.

    It makes me smile to know that the William Sloane Coffin, Jr. quote speaks to you as well. And it helps me to imagine myself held in the arms of the Divine Mother.

    With love and wishes for easier times, Anne

    1. August 1, 2023 at 12:17 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Aren’t the Mourning Doves sweet? I’ve watched them under the bird feeder, but never seen them so close or learned so much about their parenting style. I wrote about that in this week’s blog. Both kids flew and the parents were endlessly patient. My friend’s death was shocking. She’s seen lots of suffering in this life and helped many who are struggling and need support. Sometimes it seems like a blessing to leave suddenly the way she did. It’s rare and hard for those close to her and shocking since we’re used to long drawn out illnesses before death.

      Anne, I’m sorry firest and smoke are so close to you. I hope this isn’t too difficult for you and keeps a distance. I’ve never experienced that kind of fire, but it seems upsetting and frightening. We haven’t had another blast of intense smoke for at least 6 weeks, but I read that many indigenous people in Canada have been evacuated repeatedly. My heart breaks for the people, the wildlife, and the forest. May we be wrapped in the arms of the Divine Mother.

  2. July 24, 2023 at 5:07 am

    Aladin Fazel


    Your breeding setup is genuinely exceptional and heartwarming. May God bless you. My apologies for reaching out so late, as I am currently dealing with a lot of issues. I wish you all the best for your outstanding efforts in preserving the environment.

    1. July 24, 2023 at 4:08 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Aladin. As I write about the beauty and healing of nature close to me, I feel the Divine Earth Mother holding me. I know I’m privileged to feel protected. I hope all goes well with your issues, but it’s a hard time in this world for humans and nature. Sending you hope and blessings.

  3. July 18, 2023 at 10:07 pm

    Myra Berkowitz


    Dear Elaine, Thank you so much for describing your latest foray into nature. I too love bluebirds but lack the courage to see them close up in their nesting boxes, so your photos are a real treat. It’s so interesting that the ones in my urban yard have three boxes, two of which they keep empty and use for shelter but not to nest.
    Thank you also for sharing your message about our dear friend Carol. You described her so well – she helped everyone, and always greeted all with sparkling blue eyes and a warm smile. My daughter, who was little at the time, immediately recalled how years ago Carol kept the community supplied with tofu, in her role as the Tofu Lady. Before good tofu was readily available locally, Carol created a little commercial kitchen behind her own home kitchen, where she churned out batches of magnificent fresh vegetarian protein! She was a very special person whose presence is missed by so many.

    1. July 19, 2023 at 6:00 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Myra. I have a nesting box set up with predator guards and all sorts of protections for the bluebirds and tree swallows. They usually work, but House Sparrows raided the tree swallows in June. I also have boxes that open from the side, so if the Mama Bluebird wants to flee, she still has her round opening. Today the six little ones were sound asleep in the warmth and looked well fed. It will become crowded in that box before they fly.

      I remember Carol as the Tofu Lady, too. Hers was always the freshest and best at a time when fresh tofu was hard to find. I still miss it, but not as much as I miss Carol. The world feels bleak without her since she cared for so many who needed her support. I wish I had the vitality to do more for Cindy, but I’ll try to visit 2-4 times a month. Someday I may need friends to visit me. Sending you love.

  4. July 18, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    Marian Beaman


    As I read your post, words attributed to William Cowper came to mind: “I am monarch of all I survey.” Though I doubt you believe you can control what happens with the avian population on your acres, you do a great job of observing and documenting what goes on there… even with the blessed Mama Bluebird. (I love the quote from your friend Anne also.)

    Postscript: It is a privilege to grow older, but one of its pains is the death of loved ones, of which I’ve seen too many this past year. My condolences to you, Elaine, in the loss of a close, long-time friend.

    1. July 19, 2023 at 5:52 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      I agree it’s a privilege to grow older. It’s also hard for so many. So far, despite some health issues, I’m doing pretty well. Disco and I visited the bluebird six this afternoon and they were napping. They looked well fed and I’m grateful the nesting box is near a stream and it isn’t extremely hot here. What a hard year it is for so many, so I feel doubly fortunate. Sending sweetness and beauty to you. I look forward to your blog, but I’m inefficient these days. I hope that improves at least a little.

  5. July 18, 2023 at 9:07 am

    Deborah Gregory


    Dear Elaine,

    Beautifully written and beautifully expressed! Your words and photos are pure joy to feast my eyes on this afternoon, most especially the one with the three blue eggs and three blind chicks. Thank you for restoring my faith in the life, death and rebirth cycles of Mother Nature.

    Here in the UK it’s been a strange year for weather, as spring didn’t really arrive until late May and summer, well summer, has so far been hot one week, then cold and blustery the next. There’s been no settled weather here for nearly seven months now. Me, I long for warm sunny days.

    I’m so sorry to hear that it’s been such a hard week for you, particularly following the death of one of your longest and dearest of friends. Anne’s quote which you’ve included is wonderful and so true, as leap we must and hope that the net to catch us, will miraculously appear.

    Love and light, Deborah

    1. July 18, 2023 at 12:10 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Dear Deborah,
      The first bluebird clutch had five eggs and only two hatched in early June. Those two juveniles still follow Papa Bluebird around as he finds food for the new clutch of six. I rely on these cycles of birds and butterflies for hope and faith in our challenging world. Birds, butterflies, and flowers don’t demand nuanced hearing and I relax in their presence and admire their beauty. In my piece, I most loved the experience of opening the nesting box and having the Mama Bluebird stay. That had happened with Tree Swallows in the past, but not with Bluebirds. I’m honored by her trust.

      We don’t have extreme heat so far, but the air quality is poor–and the whole spring season began late because of smoky north winds from Canada. Rather than sinking into despair, I try to lean into Divine Mother and ask for Her help. We humans ignored the health of Mother Earth and Nature for too long, took what we wanted, and did so much damage. I add that unsettled weather is a special challenge with Meniere’s Disease since the inner ear pressure can’t get in sync with outer air pressure changes so I lose my sense of balance and ground. It helps to sit on the mulch in the garden and let the Earth hold me. My friend’s death stunned our community because she has had a hard life and yet helped everyone–and there was no warning. For now, her husband relies on his closest friends and family, so I wait until I’m needed. On Friday, there will be an art exhibit including some of her exquisite paintings. To share the event, friends posted her painting of a butterfly.

      May the net be there to catch you, Lin, and all of us in a loving embrace.

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