Beau March 9th, 2010
We saw the funniest thing over the weekend. The boy and I were about to have breakfast and I noticed a commotion outside the window. As we looked more closely it was three male bluebirds fighting for the rights to a nest box near the house. I’ve seen them playing like this in the spring, but this was no playful antics by young birds! We have several bluebird boxes around, but that one is a favorite for some reason.
They flew at each other and grabbed claws while pinning each other down on the ground and wrestling furiously. While these two were thrashing about, the third flew up to the box as if to say, “Ha! Ha! I’ve got the box!”
They were oblivious to anything around them, including me! I walked outside to get some better photos, and they just ignored me even when I came within a couple feet. They were so intent that while still locked together, they flew at each other and locked claws again, falling into a big spirea bush… deep in the middle. They just stayed there grasping each other like mad!
Finally I said, “Okay guys, now that’s enough! Come out of there!” Eventually they became aware of me and popped out, flying off a little way to separate perches in an oak tree. As I went inside, they were flying all around the box again.
Now there’s a school mascot for you… the “Fighting Bluebirds!” Just doesn’t sound right does it? These guys are supposed to be happy, gentle creatures! I laughed, thinking of our human labels and stereotypes… they’re just birds, as intent upon their life cycle as the lowly starling or house sparrow… which they also do battle with. But they’re nice to have around :) The rites of spring have surely begun.
We have enjoyed a wonderful stretch of warm days and have begun our “spring cleaning.” I noticed that the frogs have really emerged, and we hear them calling at night. Everything is more active (including me!) and it’s time to really get ready for the growing season.
Even the woodpeckers are more active! (That title above got your attention didn’t it!?) I’m not sure having really active woodpeckers around is always a good thing. I know they serve a purpose and signal a healthy environment, but the pileated woodpeckers can do enormous damage to a tree in short order. To all outward appearances, this oak tree looks healthy. But it may have insects attacking it inside that we just don’t see and the woodpecker does.
In any event, this hole wasn’t in the tree a few weeks ago, but now it’s huge. There is a small cavity inside, and that’s probably what the bird is after. Hopefully the tree will continue to thrive, but when I’ve seen this in the past, the tree has usually died within a couple of years. We have a few dead trees still standing that I thought would serve to help the woodpeckers with their needs.
I suspect we would lose many of these trees anyway, but I really love our old oak trees. The cycle of life continues… Have a great day!
Update: Orin provided a comment about haven taken a video of nesting pileated woodpeckers in 2009. This is great to watch- I had never seen a nesting site for this bird, or how the adults feed their young.