Stacey Cole's Nature Talks: Quite possible crows made off with bluebird babies
STACEY COLE | August 09. 2013 6:45PM
"The female, again, laid 5 eggs which hatched on Father's Day and the parents are feeding again."They have become quite tame and will come on call for suet and mealworms. I am sending copies of some photos our daughter took last February. Some unhappy faces, huh? I am also recommending a book: 'The Bluebird Effect' by Julie Zickefoose. Very Good!!!" Commenting on the recommended book, I will add that Julie is both an excellent writer and an especially good artist. She is the wife of Bill Thompson, III, co-publisher and editor of my favorite magazine, "The Bird Watcher's Digest."
In years past, I have witnessed a crow grab a baby robin from its nest and eat it, and later return for another. Those particular parent robins attacked the crow by screaming and dive bombing it, but to no avail.
In the case of bluebirds, usually, after young bluebirds learn to fly, there is a pause between broods. After the eggs of the second brood have hatched, the babies from the first brood will assist in the feeding of the young of the second brood. Although this behavior is not a common trait among many bird species, it is frequently so with bluebirds. The enclosed photos were excellent. I can't recall seeing such interesting bird facial expressions as were depicted in these computer photo-images. My congratulations to our reader's daughter for "catching" them on camera .
It is a fact that blue jays do not like hawks of any kind. During the nesting season, they both compete for young birds still in the nest or floundering about in the trees and shrubbery. With respect to the vocal ability of blue jays, Lang Elliott, author of "The Songs of Wild Birds," published by Houghton Mifflin, wrote: "The blue jay has an extremely varied vocabulary, an immense repertoire of sounds that tend to grade into one another ... there are various squeaking calls resembling the sounds of a rusty pump handle or squeaky gate. In addition, blue jays imitate the sounds of certain hawks and have been known to fool expert birders into thinking a hawk is nearby. There is even a song-like sequence of soft clicks, whirrs, whines and liquid notes ... (an) incredible variety."
On several occasions I have heard a blue jay Imitate a red-tailed hawk that, as Roger Tory Peterson has said of its asthmatic squeal, "keeer—r—r! (slurring downward)." I have not seen the reaction of a red-tail, but have seen birds in our feeding area "freeze," and remain perfectly still.