Friday, October 25, 2013

Eastern Bluebird, Havenwoods State Forest

Coming in for a landing, it's a great day for flying. 
There is not much this young Eastern Bluebird needed to do today, except maybe eat, as he practiced flying. 
Food is plentiful right now for the seed and fruit-eating birds. It seems every other tree or weed has something ripe to eat. The only thing that might make his life easier would be someone to feed him.  
These two juveniles are likely from a second brood for 2013. Their parents probably raised a first brood earlier this spring. They can fly, but felt no need as I approached.  It’s likely they will remain together as a family group for this winter.  There is plenty of food in October, but leaner days are ahead.
Looking skyward inquisitively, this pair was quite content to laze on the rooftop and wait to be fed.   
Probably born in this box, it's the only home they know. This box is one of many boxes placed at Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee and likewise throughout rural Wisconsin.  The Eastern Bluebird has benefited greatly from the nest box campaigns of the 1960-70's, designed to provide bluebirds with nest sites.
Before the boxes were introduced, bluebird populations decreased markedly as European Starlings and House Sparrows out-competed the bluebirds.   Oddly shaped boxes with bluebird-sized holes gradually sprang up along bluebird trails. The shape of the boxes and the hole size discouraged competitors and helped reestablish a thriving population of Eastern Bluebirds. The campaign worked well. Eastern Bluebirds are now listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Content with the comforts of home, they playfully jostle for ownership of the entrance because that is where the food is delivered.

Appropriately named, the Eastern Bluebird wears his namesake from the color wheel well. 

Looking adult-like already, it's unclear just how long food deliveries will continue.
Perhaps it's time for this one to feed himself? 

Click on any picture to enlarge

Practice flying on an awesome autumn day is fun, if one gets bored with eating berries.

Picking the low-hanging fruit is not just a metaphor today.  

It’s anybody’s guess where this Eastern Bluebird family will spend the winter...just not here. More likely it will be in the southeastern United States or as far away as Nicaragua in Central America. 
Wherever they choose, these birds will need fuel for the trip. October is a good time and Wisconsin is a good place to stock up on berries, bugs and seeds. 

Watch for them again on the return trip early next spring.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds. 
International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The Sibley Guide to Birds.

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