It’s April and the bluebirds are back. This time every year they show up from wherever they spent the winter, and start flitting around with the finches and sparrows at the feeders.
Eastern Bluebirds aren’t like the other birds that show up at our front door in the spring. The female is hesitant and indecisive. The male is nurturing, conciliatory and unbelievably patient.
The male lands on the birdhouse hanging from the Japanese maple and pokes his head inside for an assessing look around. She perches on a distant limb and glances around in total disinterest. Even when the male pops his head out of the house and whistles for her to come and take a look, she ignores him. Baffled, he shakes his head and flies off.
They’ll return two or three more times with the same result. My daughter has bluebirds at her home in Missouri. She has erected three bluebird houses at strategic locations in her back yard.
Her birds are just as persnickety as ours. The male checks out first one house and then another. She reluctantly follows, sniffing at each house and then flying off to sit on a limb and pout.
After a week or two of this, the female finally picks one of the houses, and the male starts hauling in twigs and grass for a nest. During the summer, the eggs hatch, the young fly away, and the parents do the whole thing all over again.
My daughter’s birdhouses are designed and built specifically for bluebirds. Somebody figured out that helps the female make up her mind, I guess.
I have blueprints for bluebird houses, but the one hanging in front is just a simple Cub Scout project that I put together a couple years ago.
For the next two or three weeks, the bluebirds will look without buying, and ultimately a pair of wrens will move in and set up housekeeping.
Last year when the wrens were busy finishing their nest, the bluebirds showed up and announced they were ready to move in. There were several loud discussions and a couple of angry skirmishes before the wrens finally chased the bluebirds away.
I plan to build a couple bluebird houses this summer. I’ll put them in strategic locations in the yard and wait to see if it helps the female make up her mind next spring and avoid another battle royal with the wrens.