Bluebirds prove themselves to be good parents and protectors
“I saw a squirrel making its way up the tree. It was chased down by a bluebird pair — they never gave up until it was on the lawn — then both pecked at it until it quickly scurried away.
“One pair of bluebirds nested in the former purple martin house on my garden fence and, when I work in the garden, they aren't far away. I tried to peek in the nest and got bombarded by both! They pecked at my hair.
“It is so much fun to sit on the deck and watch them feed their babies. They don't go near the feeders but take insects from the garden or lawn and will sit on the shed or pole and bounce the insect until it is smaller for the babies. I think the male works much harder than the female — he is always feeding the babies. When the first nesting hatched, I thought the babies were another species as they were spotted and brownish, and haven't turned blue yet. They are quite active for such tiny ones.
“Those still in the nest are active, too. They make all kinds of noise when they are being fed. Seems like all three pairs are a community, they have kept other species from their territory. However, since they don't use the feeders, I still get the yellow and purple finches, nuthatches and titmice. They have made their nests further away this year.
“This year a hawk has brought her young one to a dead tree at the edge of the forest. She works hard at training the little one when darkness appears most nights.”
Here at the farm we have a red-tailed hawk that, early in the morning, perches on a strong, bare limb of its favorite pine tree. That tree, by the way, is one of several white pines that were drowned when beavers enlarged their pond many years ago. The “redtail” looks across the beaver pond into the hay field beyond, constantly searching with its “telescope” eyes for a wayward mouse or other prey that risks exposure.
This is the first nesting season in several years that either a pair of bluebirds or tree swallows have nested in one of our unpainted and weathered birdhouses. The pair of tree swallows selected a similar birdhouse to that the bluebirds took. Each house was located a fair distance from the other so there was no squabbling between them. Thanks to two good friends for taking the time this spring to clean and make minor repairs to those birdhouses.
The bluebirds are now busy raising a second brood. On the other hand, the tree swallows gathered their young family together after they had fledged and flown, then left here for the season.
During the last week of June, a wandering black bear walked through an open gate and entered our chain-link fenced, paved bird-feeding area. My friend and I watched the bear from the kitchen window as it gently unhooked our “squirrel-proof” feeder that held black oil seeds, and let it drop. The bear easily opened the feeder top, then it laid down on its belly and tongued out the seeds. We were both amazed at the bruin's continued gentle behavior. When it finished eating, it slowly arose and walked out through the open gate and headed toward the woods. What a remarkable sight!
In my opinion, since the feeder actually had but few seeds remaining in it when the bear opened it up, the bear would not bother to return. Several days later, the bear proved me wrong. Return it did! However, this time, its prior gentleness turned into a rage and the feeder was almost completely demolished! That behavior was not acceptable. I then decided to stop feeding the birds immediately and, for an indefinite period.
Only a few days passed before no birds visited here any more. I certainly missed them as it became evident that as long as I failed to put out my feeders, the parent birds would not bring their fledglings with them. That thought pressured me to relent and, after one week had passed, I restored the feeders again.
What next? Time will tell.
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A July 11 phone call from a long-time Kingston reader told about a fledgling family of bank swallows that, after leaving their nest hole, alighted in a row on a nearby tree branch. They twittered loudly, flexing their wings while continuing to hold a strong grip with their feet. It was but a short while before they arose one after the other and began doing acrobatic feats in their new found sky, he concluded.
Stacey Cole's address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey 03446.
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