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For the past week, Eastern Bluebirds have been bringing their fledglings to our feeder for dried mealworms. It’s been an eventful week. So far the parents have introduced them to the mealworm feeder. Two fledglings discovered a sprinkler. And one fledgling almost strangled himself in a feeder pole.
Bluebird Parents Introduce The Mealworm Feeder
Back in late winter/early spring, two bluebird pairs arrived and I think there are two families of bluebirds in the neighborhood now. The first pair’s babies fledged about a week before the second. Mom and dad bluebird number one sat their three fledglings high up in the trees at the edge of the yard. The fledglings waited there while their parents flew over to the feeder.
First the female ate while her mate kept watch, sitting on top of a nearby shepherd’s hook pole. Then she would fly to the fledglings with a beak full of dried mealworms. Dad would then take his turn, eat and bring another batch to the little ones. And the cycle would repeat.
The second bluebird family arrived several days later. They saved themselves some flying time by settling their two fledglings in the tree where the mealworm feeder hangs. Again, the parents took turns bringing mealworms to the fledglings. I haven’t seen a fledgling inside the feeder yet, although they’ve sat on top.
Bluebird Fledglings Discover Sprinkler
After several days, the first bluebird fledglings seemed to branch out with a little more confidence. One day, a pair of fledglings was hunting bugs at our sprinkler.
We have two Yard Enforcer sprinklers in our back yard. They are motion activated and have two purposes. One is to discourage the local groundhog from eating in my flower and herb gardens. The other is to discourage neighborhood cats from wandering into the feeder area.
Like most hose related things, if the connections get loose, the sprinkler will leak. One morning I realized that there was a steady stream of water flowing out of it, so I went over and tightened everything up to stop the leak.
There was a puddle left around the sprinkler and afterwards, several kinds of birds were poking around there including two Eastern Bluebird fledglings. I think the damp ground may have been a good spot for bugs.
The two little bluebird fledglings were there for about half an hour poking around at the ground. Their parents flew over to bring them dried mealworms at least once, although they didn’t seem to be feeding them quite as often as a few days earlier.
Every now and then a bird would fly on the other side of the sprinkler or a squirrel would run past, setting off the motion sensor. The sprinkler would kick in for about fifteen seconds and all the birds would scatter. The little bluebirds apparently still liked the spot because they returned a bit later to poke around some more in the muddy ground right at the sprinkler base.
Bluebird Fledgling Caught on Feeder Pole
Another day I went out to fill some of the feeders. Motion a few feet to my left caught my eye. A bluebird fledgling was caught by the neck in the gap between the extended dual shepherd’s hook poles of the feeder there. He was flapping his wings frantically but slipping farther down into the gap which was getting tighter around his neck.
My first reaction was, “Oh my god!” I put down the seed I was carrying and reached out to gently grab his little body. I gradually lifted him up very gently so he was clear of the pole. Then he was able to very energetically fly off. If I hadn’t happened to come along right then, I think he would have been strangled.
I’ve had these poles and the extensions for years and this has never happened before. I really don’t think it was the fault of the poles. It was pure bad luck (and fledgling clumsiness) on his part that it happened and also pure good luck that I was there at the right time.
Now I am deciding how to tweak the poles so it won’t happen again. I may try to securely tape the bottom of the two metal bars tightly together. Or it might just need a little paracord wrapped around them to block access to the gap. That will be the subject of another post when I figure it out.
Fledglings Keep Things Interesting
Bluebird fledglings are a joy to watch. They have so much to learn and need to learn it very quickly. Mom and dad seem to teach by example. And soon enough they are on their own, feeding themselves.
Learn More About Eastern Bluebirds
All About Birds Eastern Bluebirds section.
Attracting Eastern Bluebirds blog post.
Erva Mealworm Feeder Review blog post.
Erva Mealworm Feeder and Dried Mealworms blog post.
Learn More About Maryland Birds
See my post on Central Maryland Backyard Birds.
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