A flash of blue wings dart across my path as I near the tree where my bluebird box is. As I near the box, I can see male sitting one branch over from the box, guarding it closely. Before I open the box, I knock softly on it to allow female a chance to fly out if she wants to escape. As nothing happens, I assume that she must be out having a snack, and that is why the male is so protective of the box right now. I slowly unscrew the latch that keeps the front shut and lift open the door, hoping to get a peek of the five powder-blue eggs that I know are in there. The first thing I notice is that there is a tail sticking out at me! The female looks back at me as the light shows off her elegant blue-gray feathers, and the male starts swooping at me. I know that he won’t hit me. He is just trying to get my attention, so I snap a picture of the female on the nest, shut the box, and turn my attention to him.
He swoops at my head and as I duck, turns away at the last second. He sits in a tree about five feet from the box. As I raise the camera to take a picture of him, he hops onto the next branch. I take a couple of steps forward, raise the camera again, and again he flies to the next tree. We repeat this process several times, and finally he flies off to the power lines to search for more bugs. I turn around, realizing that he has done his job well. In distracting me from the box, he has also led me away from it.
I have been hosting bluebirds in my yard for three years. I am thrilled every year as they start building a new nest and love watching the construction process. The female searches the carpet of pine straw underfoot for just the perfect piece, while the male sits on a tree guarding the box, and singing for joy! I also love watching the adults raise their babies and checking the nest box to hear the little cheeps as the nestlings open wide for the food that they’re sure that their parents must have! Or as they fledge, and try out their wings and for the first time find out what it is like to fly. My heart breaks when some of the babies don’t survive, or one of the parents gets trapped by the family of Red-tailed Hawks that live in the area. But every year, as the male shows the female my box, I wonder if maybe these are some of MY babies. Maybe the ones I watched grow up are coming back home to start a family of their own.