This spring we attended the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show and learned about bluebird houses from an expert with Wild Birds Unlimited. I've never seen Eastern Bluebirds in my forest, so this seemed like a great opportunity to try and attract them.
Bluebirds prefer their homes to be in the open, about 10 feet off the ground. Ideally tree branches or bushes are within 15 feet or so for the babies to have a safe place to land when they leave the nest. The first morning after installing the houses, a bluebird couple checked one out! The male scouts the location and calls the female to check it out. Ultimately, she gets final approval. So it's just like House Hunters, the tv show!
That first morning we had high hopes that the couple would begin building their nest, but the temperatures were still too cool.
In the meantime, Carolina Chickadees took over two of the four bird houses. These photos are from 'House #1', where the first pair built their nest, laid eggs, then babies grew and fledged.
By April 17, six eggs were in the nest.
April 26 they hatched. The parents were very protective and would chirp nonstop when I visited the box...which wasn't too often.
April 30 - Growing quickly! And hungry!
May 6 - Starting to look like baby birds. Mom and Dad frequently coming and going from the birdhouse, with lots of chirps from inside.
May 9 - they are changing so quickly and their Chickadee color pattern is emerging.
May 11 - I checked on them in the morning and thought today may be the day they would venture into the world. And with four birds clearly visible in this photo (from six eggs), I wondered if the two I saw hopping around in a nearby bush had just left the nest.
When I got home from work, I immediately checked the box. Although I expected they would leave today, I still felt surprised, and a little sad, to see the empty nest. One egg never hatched, but the others were grown and flying through my trees... doing what they were created to do.
A few days later I cleaned out the nest, so perhaps another Chickadee couple or maybe even a bluebird pair could occupy the house. Sometimes they nest twice. Now, whenever I see a Chickadee at the feeder, I wonder if it may be one of those babies enjoying its adventures in these woods.