Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bluebirds are Back!

One of the best things about living in the country is the return each spring of bluebirds. Townies never see them, nor do woodland dwellers. I almost pity them. The eastern bluebird is truly a piece of the sky sent down to earth--the back feathers of the male are dazzling cerulean, the deep rust breast feathers are a cheerful counterpoint. Often I hear the arrival of the bluebirds even before I see them. The gay trill is not unlike that of its cousin, the robin. Here's a link to a site where you can hear the call and read up on them:

Another informative site is

We've had much luck in attracting these charmers to our five acres. In fact, one year a gourd that stuck in a fence and dried there even became a home to them. After seeing the birds fluttering around it, I asked Gourdo to drill a hole in it and within minutes, Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird happily set up housekeeping!

Attracting bluebirds is only part of the process, though. Protecting them from the evil English House Sparrow (HOSP), a non-native competitor for their habitat, is the largest part of the providing haven for bluebirds--as well as for tree swallows and any number of other native birds. I used to feel that if a species is so tenacious as to be able to adapt and survive anywhere, it should. After all, it's nature's way, isn't it?

This is true, perhaps. But it's also human nature to protect what we love. And we love bluebirds.

I've had adult bluebirds killed on the nest and newly hatched bluebird babies stabbed and ejected from a nest by the HOSP who wants a nest box. It's heartbreaking.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but, for me, traps are a problem. I can't kill the enemy even when I catch him. Shooting isn't easy either. The HOSP is as wary as the bluebird is friendly. I'm hoping two things will help this year, an elaborate arrangement of fishing line around the entrance of the birdhouse which supposedly makes it spooky to the sparrow, and eliminating HOSP food source. No more millet! Black oil sunflower seed and thistle seed only in my feeders.

We shall see.

The bluebirds are here and are busy at one of the houses. In the offing I hear the bold chirping of the HOSP. Will he let the bluebirds be? The drama continues for another year. But if we're lucky, we'll see the successful raising of a bluebird family in our backyard. Photo from Wikipedia.


  1. Congrats on the return of such a beautiful bird. I've never seen one other than pictures, so I'll just have to take your word for the pretty song they have. Birds get confused with our long summer days (almost 20 hours of daylight in midsummer). Robins often start their singing at 5 in the morning...worse than a rooster!

    Christine in Alaska

  2. Hi Julena~~ I have to say I'm a little bit jealous. I never see this beautiful bird in my neck of the woods.

  3. I've never seen a bluebird, but I'd sure like to!

  4. Oh, I envy you these precious birds! We don't have them where I live in California. Beautiful photo.