April 11, 2017 at 11:52 am #3583
Okay, so this is the second year I have had eastern bluebirds nest in my nestbox. The pair I have now laid and hatched 6 eggs. The nestlings are 7 days old today. Sunday when we came home I noticed another female with the pair and the pair were not trying to run her off(I’m assuming this may be a sibling of one of the birds because we had 18 babies make it last season & they were here until this pair made them scram for this years nesting). Anyway, the momma bird is upset with her because she is trying, and sometimes succeeding, at feeding her babies for her. (I figured since she has 6 she would welcome the help! Just kidding) Anyway, we are on the third day of this behavior and the male doesn’t seem to mind at all that he has two females trying to feed these babies.
To add to the strangeness, the mother bird has started flying to my back porch window, perching on my chairs, and looking for me through the spaces between the blinds. At first I thought she was seeing her reflection and I feared she would hit the window and kill herself, but the more I watch her do this the more I realize she knows there is a barrier there and she gently flutters to the back of the chairs and peers through the window until she sees me after hearing me talk to her. When I start talking to her she starts chattering back to me and does not seem satisfied until I go outside and check on her babies. I have searched for blowfly larvae, ants, wasps, spiders, snakes, etc. and have found nothing. All 6 babies are developing at the same rate and look very healthy. The only difference is, that there is a second female outside trying to help, so I’m positive this is why she is so upset. Am I just humanizing her behavior too much or do you think she really is trying to communicate with me? Also, has anyone seen another female try to feed another pair’s babies?
April 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm #3585Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
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It is quite common for juveniles from a previous nesting to help feed their siblings in the box. This has been documented – however, I personally have not had this happen. Strange that mama would be upset with this is papa thought it was okay. As far as them going to a window and perching on your chairs, I do believe you are “humanizing” their behavior, as this too is common. They know you are their friend, and this may be their way of communicating – like “I’m here, feed me”. As far as trying to tell you to check on the babies, could be, but probably not. We can always dream, but these really are wild birds for the most part (but I sometimes do wonder).April 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm #3586
Thanks Carol, I initially thought she wanted more worms but she does this behavior only when the other female is present and trying to feed the babies, and often times they still have worms in their feeder. But I am in agreeance that I am humanizing her behavior. It is easy for me to do especially since I feel as though I have a bond with these birds.
I was fortunate enough to see fledglings feeding their siblings last year when we had 4 broods in the nestbox by the same pair, but I am fairly certain this is a sibling of the female that is here. I believe we had the momma to all the fledglings attempt to nest this year in February, but I believe she was somehow injured or killed because she had completely abandoned the nestbox for several days before I removed the nest that contained 5 eggs. I videoed the nestbox for several days and there were no visits by the female, only the male, and by the next day he was already paired with another female and they chose the other nestbox. I only believe it was not the same female because the eggs and nest were undisturbed from the first attempt and the current female that laid 6 eggs wanted no part of the nestbox that contained 5 eggs.
I am not sure of too much except that I really enjoy watching the bluebirds and am happy they feel safe enough to reproduce in the bluebird habitat that we worked so hard to create for them.April 11, 2017 at 9:37 pm #3592
Let me add to my previous post in response to the removal of the nest with eggs in it in February. The female was on day 8 of incubation when she disappeared. I didn’t want anyone to think I had removed this nest without being certain that she was gone, or that she had delayed incubation.
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