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Baby Bluebirds!


Gerry Stewart, in northern Middle Tennessee, had a family of bluebirds nest in her birdhouse this spring (2003). Gerry had just bought a new digital camera, so every day she went out and took a photo. She writes, "The bluebird nestbox has a door on the side which opens upwards. So I took the camera with me for daily monitoring checks (to make sure no House Sparrows or parasites were causing problems), and took a few photos each time. It would not have been possible to take a picture through the entrance hole, and in fact, it was a challenge for me to position the camera correctly even as it was. I think I got better at it as time went on."

Gerry Stewart took the adult male bluebird's photo on the fence. On the post to his right you can see the nest box, and the photo also gives you an idea of the habitat. Next you see the female bluebird on the five eggs, and the five babies the day they hatched (though they're not easy to count!) Click on any photo to see it enlarged.
This shows the babies on days 3, 4, and 5. Notice their large, colorful mouths, which make an easy target for their parents to shove food into. At first, the babies detect their parents' presence by changes in light and by the sound of the parents flying in. Soon they'll be seeing them quite clearly.
Look how many feathers the babies are getting by days 6 and 7! Both parents spend most of the day looking for food and feeding them. But now and then, even the busiest mother needs to take a bath!
The babies have grown so very much since hatching! These photos were taken on days 8, 9, and 10. The feathers are getting pretty thick now.

Every day the babies get bigger, and their feathers thicker and bluer. The third picture, from Day 13, was taken the last day that Gerry could monitor the babies safely. After that, she just watched things from a distance until the babies fledged five days later. The reason for the cut off in monitoring is so the babies don't get scared and leave the nest too early. Gerry was glad they stayed in the nest those last five days--there were storms and even tornadoes those last days.

Once the babies leave the nest, they don't return to the bird house. Nest boxes are too dangerous after they can fly, because flies and other insects will gather in them. Gerry said that as soon as the nest was empty, she was going to clean out all the nest materials so the parents would have a nice, clean room to raise their next batch of babies. All five of these babies survived and fledged successfully. Hooray, Gerry!

The adult female is posing, and taking a little break.


Try This! Study YOUR Backyard Birds!
Some nesting birds are easier to study and to photograph than others. Usually birds nesting on or very close to houses allow people to watch or photograph them without becoming too stressed, as long as the people pay attention and pull back if the bird seems at all agitated. Can you take photographs of your backyard birds? Keep a journal, so you can see how things change from day to day. Baby birds develop fast!

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