Aren’t these brand new baby bluebirds amazing!?! There are four. They hatched sometimes between yesterday morning and this morning.
Just are we are supposed to, we checked under the nest for blowfly larvae. No evidence that I could see. I declined to inspect the hatchlings because they are so very tiny, but as they get bigger, the experts say you should check under their wings and remove any parasites.
Here are some interesting facts from the Stokes Bluebird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting Bluebirds by Donald & Lillian Stokes:
– The female lays about an egg a day until the full clutch is laid. She doesn’t start incubating the eggs until all the eggs are laid.
– Once the female begins incubation, she remains with the eggs nearly constantly, only taking short breaks for food.
– If something happens to the female, the male cannot take over the duties of incubating the eggs. The eggs die.
– The young will fledge within 16 to 23 days. So for us, that means they’ll be fledging between July 11 and July 18.
– We will stop monitoring the box when the birds get to be around 11 or 12 days old to prevent them from bolting from the box prematurely.
– Bluebird eggs incubate for 12 to 14 days and then stay in the nest for 16 to 21 days before they fledge.
– Even after they fledge, they depend on their parents for food for a couple of weeks.
Sadly, the Stokes say that the first few months of a bluebird’s life are the most difficult because of all the dangers and their extreme inexperience. They say that an estimated 50% of fledglings do not make it past the first few months. If they DO survive, they have a good chance of living to be two or three years old.
There don’t seem to be records of potential longevity, but they could, possibly, live to be 10 years old in the wild if they are very smart and very fortunate.
I certainly hope that Maryland bluebirds are smart and fortunate.
And by coincidence, I happened to pick up a book on my shelf today, The Laws of Nature: Excerpts from the Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and happened on this apropos quote:
When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, bobolinks, and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying.