We must have set some kind of success record, finding 6 of 8 nest boxes with Bluebirds successfully nesting in them. One had eggs only. Another had new hatchlings with their eyes still closed, which we counted by finding the yellow beaks. One little guy was completely buried under his siblings. Another box had one hatchling and a few unhatched eggs. Two other boxes had old nests, but were vacant now.
Bernheim installed a nest cam in a box just outside the education center. Unlike many online cams, this one has a live feed to a monitor in the education center so you can see every movement happening in the box. Mama Bluebird came with a juicy grub, but all the babies were napping, so she ate it herself. Can't let those grubs go to waste!
Another box held babies with their eyes open, and they showed no interest at all, either panic or joy, in the large hand entering their world and moving them around to search for a buried Bluebird sibling. Look at the blue tips on their developing feathers. Mr. Bluebird says that when they are ready to fledge they just burst out of the box and fly away. There is no room inside to stretch and exercise those flight muscles.
We discovered that the ninth box held a nest of Tufted Titmouse babies when the Titmouse mother scolded and cursed at us as loudly as she could directly over our heads. We finally took pity on her (and spared ourselves a dive-bombing) by leaving the box unopened.
As we walked up the hill a way, Mama Titmouse immediately entered the box with a tidbit for the babies, then hurried away to find the next serving.
Thanks, Mr. Bluebird, for a terrific afternoon learning about Bluebirds in wonderful detail. I greatly admire his skill in determining how to open each box, since each was different. His tool of preference? The handy, dandy Swiss Army knife, of course. I was also interested to see the various stages of development in the different nests. My favorite story was when he reached into the nest under a sitting mother, lifted her up to count the eggs, and she didn't move a feather. We didn't find any birds actually on the nest today, but we had a bonus with no House Sparrows in any of the boxes!
Our friends from Raptor Rehab of Kentucky attended Bloomfest with some of their favorite birds and mine.
Green Dragon Blossom
After the great birding opportunities, as the crowds started to trickle off, my flower buddy and expert, Tavia Cathcart, asked if I'd like to go hunting Green Dragons. Dragons? You mean the fire-breathing kind of dragon? No, this is a flower, one I've never seen before, and she was very excited about it.
Most Jack in the Pulpits are finished blooming by this time, but Bernheim's Jacks are in good shape. This one is a Jack in the Pen apparently. Can't imagine was sort of natural law it broke to land in jail!
Flowers and birds weren't the only attendees at Bloomfest. This insect arrived early in the morning, and seemed fascinated with leftover stickiness on the plastic tablecloth I brought from home. Our favorite blossom is the Wren Flower--a unique forest beauty found only at Bernheim Forest and Arboretum!