Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bluebird babies survive attack by crow

Over the past month, I've had the pleasure of watching a pair of Eastern bluebirds return to the same nesting box where they have attempted to raise young for the last three years. The wooden nesting box is affixed to a post next to the lake about 30' from our house. I can easily see it from my favorite sitting spot by the kitchen table.

A pair of Eastern bluebirds that return annually
to raise - or try to raise - young

Previously, the pair hasn't been all that successful. Twice before, crows swooped in to grab the baby birds just before they were ready to fledge.

Big, hungry crow first lands on top of the box then
flies down, sticks his long, sharp beak into the hole
and tries to grab a meal to feed his own babies

This year, the babies managed to survive despite attempts - at least two that I saw - by a hungry crow eager once again to steal away one or more young birds. On both occasions, I only noticed the attack after hearing the parents' loud screeching as they repeatedly dive-bombed their opportunistic enemy.

Fledged bluebird perched on a fig tree branch
not far from the nesting box

Once the bluebirds succeeded in convincing the crow to search for easier prey, the adult bluebirds returned to their parental responsibilities of standing guard and finding food to feed their hungry brood, tasks shared by both. When one of the adult birds was off catching caterpillars, flies and beetles, the other entered 'protector mode,' scanning the skies diligently from atop the nesting box or nearby tree branch.

This fluffed out female Eastern bluebird combines
preening with sentry work from her nesting box perch

In the video before, before the female Eastern Bluebird feeds her babies inside the nesting box, she spends considerable time on top of the box checking out her surroundings.

When she's sure it's safe, she flies down to the box opening, quickly passes her catch off to the nestlings and flies away.  I waited to see if any baby birds would poke their little feathery heads out to beg for more, but none did. By the time I panned back out, the father bird had flown over to take his place as sentry on top of the wooden box.

The next video is about dad's turn. Like mom, he too spent considerable time surveying the area before deciding it was safe to fly down to the nest.

If you enjoy bluebirds as much as I do, click on

to see some of my other photo- and video-illustrated essays

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