Steve Greer Photography Blog

A bluebird sees the outside world for the first time

As the walls in their home press inward, the nestlings continue to jostle for a comfortable position.   The chicks take turns carrying out vigorous wing flapping exercises several times a day to strengthen their wing muscles.    This youngster takes the inchoative of his or her new found strength to climb to the edge of the nestbox entrance to see what is happening outside.   A little hesitant to make that momentous jump, the chick decides to stay in the safety of the nestbox a little longer.

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May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The bluebirds have opened their eyes

All the chicks’ eyes have now opened and they are almost completely feathered.  They’re now sporting a narrow ring of white feathers around each eye, and their breasts are speckled with gray.

The nestlings are standing more during the day, while continuing to preen and do wing stretches.  Some of the scratching around the eyes could be due to a blow fly larvae infestation.  So far, it looks as though the youngsters are able to cope.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How much can a bluebird eat?

It’s now day 10, and the warmer temperatures have returned.  This means insects are easier to find, and they are bigger.

This is good timing as the chicks are becoming more vocal in their demands for food.  In this clip, no insect is too big for this youngster.  He, or she, is determined to gulp this worm down, even it means being uncomfortable.

The chick continued to gag, slowly working the worm down it’s throat over the next several hours.  And even though there was no way to cram any more food into this chick, it continued chirping for more with every new delivery of insects.

Notice that their feather sheaths have started to disintegrate (leaving a white dust behind) and wing feathers have begun to emerge.  The nestlings are now preening, and doing some stretching and hopping a little to strengthen muscles.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The bluebirds first feathers

The weather has changed, and with it the abundance of food has dwindled.  It has now been raining lightly for 2 days with daytime temperature averaging 60 degrees.  It’s harder to find insects in the damp weather.  But even with the less frequent feedings the babies continue to grow. Their first feathers have burst from the tips of their sheaths.

Now that they are beginning to spill out over the nest cup, the adults have little room to sit on the side of the nest.  More often, the adults are feeding from the entrance, and only jumping in to turn around making it easier to jump back out.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds | Leave a comment

Bluebirds feeding chicks

The parents are now arriving to the nest with insects on average of 1 per minute.  Now that the chicks’ digestive tracts are fully developed, and their always increasing appetites, the parents are removing their fecal sacs (60 to 70 bundles a day)  Both adults keep the nest clean by picking up the chicks’ feces, which are wrapped in a mucous membrane.  The chicks instinctively know to deposit their waste outside the nest cup.  As the chicks continue to grow the parents will take the fecal sacs and drop them in the forest far from the nest – see video no.2

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds | 1 Comment

Bluebirds trying to stay cool in a sauna

This is now day 6 in the nestbox.  Daytime temperatures are now in the low 80’s. I estimate in the heat of the day the inside of the box to be around 95 to 100 degrees.  The chicks’ mouths stay open in an effort as to not overheat.  Birds lack sweat glands, so they don’t sweat to cool off like people do. Birds pant like dogs. By opening their mouths and breathing faster, they can increase the airflow, which causes more moisture to evaporate from the mouth, tongue, throat and respiratory tract.  Evaporation of moisture has a cooling effect on the body.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds | 1 Comment

Night time in the Nestbox

I’ve just finished editing a typical night in the nestbox.  The female keeps the chicks warm during the cool nights by sitting on the nest.  This is called brooding.  Over the course of the 8 hours, she got very little sleep.  The chicks were constantly wiggling and poking themselves under mom’s tummy   While it may look like she is tucking her head under her wing, she is actually resting her head on her shoulder while tucking it is under the tuff feathers that drape over each shoulder.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds | Leave a comment

Bluebirds growing in proportion to their appetites’

This is now day 4 and the chicks continue to grow at a fast pace.  They have grown four times from their original size in four days.  Food is in abundance.  You can see their contour feathers begin to develop.  The soft gray down is now along the edges of the wings, the head and spine. Always ambitious, the chicks are now competing for a prize grasshopper that is as big as they are.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds | Leave a comment

Bluebirds Feeding Chicks

Even though both adults bring insects to the nest, at this stage it’s often the female that feeds the chicks – especially when the chicks are this young and overnight temperatures are in the 40’s.   In this highlight, the male gets more involved.  He is not merely satisfied with the typical handoff of food and climbs into the nest before he gives the insect to the female.  He almost seems curious to see how his young family is doing.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds | Leave a comment

2nd. Chick Hatching

This is a highlight of the second chick hatching.

Watch as the egg begins to rock back and forth, then crack open with the chick falling out and flailing around, and then collaping on top of the other eggs in exhaustion.  The chicks are born naked, blind, and unable to maintain their own body temperature.  They are totally helpless.  The female bluebird eats the egg shell essentially because it’s a great source of calcium.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Bluebird Video Highlights, Bluebirds, Uncategorized | Leave a comment