Tag Archives: seasons

All I planned to do was clean up the bee hives. But four hours later having moved on to meadow clipping, I was startled to hear Bluebirds calling, Bluebirds fighting to be exact. Two males kept flying into each other, their wings whacking, while a female looked on. From time to time, a male would land on one of my Bluebird boxes. Then they’d fight again.

“I have three boxes,” I called out, “you needn’t squabble.” But there was only one female. The fight was over her not the boxes.

Find the Bluebird?

Meanwhile the Red-bellied woodpecker was picking away for the third day at a nest its making in the old Norway maple. In between pecks, it examined the perfectly round hole it has made and screeched with satisfaction.

Even a slow circling flyby on the part of the Red-tailed hawk could not deter the mating and nesting.

(You have to take my word for all this bird activity. My camera battery was dying and the birds are too small and distant for my point-and-shoot. I wished for the camera and their operators from the Panama birding team!)

The bad news, beside the dead bees, is that lots of Bittersweet stems still have life in them. But maybe an equal number of stems snap when touched and roots shed their orange sheaths when pulled from the ground.

My scratched wrists attest to the successful overwintering of lots of Dewberry. Its red stems are easily visible in the brown debris of last year’s foliage. I snipped 3 wheelbarrow’s worth of its prickly branches in the area to the south of the bee hives. While it grows together with the Bittersweet in that sunny, dry and sandy part of the meadow, I found almost no Dewberry when I moved to the south west corner of the meadow where its shady in the morning and again by mid afternoon and the soil is loamier and retains more moisture. Maybe that’s another piece of good spring news.

An Eastern bluebird alighted on one of the nesting boxes in the meadow. It was 15 January.

Last year, I saw a bluebird on a box on 2 April. That’s more the season when it might build a nest. But no bluebird honored me with a nest in one of my boxes last year.

The Eastern bluebird who came last spring but did not stay to nest.

This year’s bluebird might well be roosting here for the winter but might fly north later for nest building. The bluebirds looking to nest will come up from somewhere further south in the spring. After this year’s bird had flown, which also happened to be before I could snap a picture, I checked the contents of the box. A House wren had left behind a layer of twigs from an unfinished nest that I had not yet removed. But the twigs now also had some small blue feathers on them. Was the Bluebird adding insulation to a roost?

I checked the 2 other boxes. The middle one still had a Tree swallow’s nest from last season. That nest, lined with magnificent owl feathers, was such a gem that I had not wanted to remove it. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act prevents me from collecting feathers but I can leave them in the nest.

Owl feathers from a House wren's nest

The third box, with its special 1and a half inch diameter entry hole fashioned by a carpenter working on the house renovation of 2009-10, was empty. I had removed the wood chips that the House sparrow deposited last year when chiseling that special entry to a size that better suited him. If the House sparrows are gone, maybe a bluebird, maybe three bluebird families, will feel more comfortable and nest in the meadow come spring.