At 12:40  PM on Saturday, a yellow-gaped, gray-headed EASTERN BLUEBIRD
nestling appeared at the hole of our nest box in northeast Ithaca.  This
was the first time I had ever seen the face of any of these nestlings, so I
thought it was just taking a cool breath or impatiently looking for a
parent.  But then, to my delight and astonishment, I watched this bird
haltingly get its footing on the threshold, lean forward, and fly out of
the box on beautiful, long, new blue wings.

Over the next 40 minutes, my wife Miyoko and our son Tilden and I watched
the other nestlings gradually muster up resolve, hesitating and retreating
like little kids on a three-meter diving board.  The parents continually
voiced encouragement nearby, and still came to deliver food a couple of
times.  Finally, a nestling pushed off from the hole and spread its wings
to the air.  Another followed a few minutes later, and then another.  The
mother bluebird went to the box with a green caterpillar after the fourth
fledgling’s departure, but finding no recipient, flew away with her bill
still laden.  This would seem to confirm that we did see the last bird
fledge.  It also suggests to me that the mother could not or at least did
not count her fledglings.

Here are some mediocre but somewhat illustrative photos:

And here is my best attempt at an estimated timeline recap:

Nest-building first observed on May 2, continuing through at least May 4

Completion of egg-laying around May 11

Hatching around May 25

Fledging on June 11

We think that this is the first time that any of us, even Miyoko the
ornithologist, has ever witnessed the very moment of a bird’s first flight
from the nest.   What a miracle!  We feel very lucky and fired up!!!

Other recent bird notes:

* On Friday, I witnessed copulation between a pair of House Wrens,
including our tailless yet dauntless male, for the second time in three
days, on the same favored hookup post on our deck.

* On the Woodleton Boardwalk in Sapsucker Woods on Saturday, I heard and
saw several VEERIES issuing many familiar vocalizations (descending song,
plus “veer,” “vurt,” and “jeewurt” calls), but also quite a lot of high,
thin, waxwing-like whistles.  This is the second strikingly different Veery
vocalization that I’ve learned in the last two weeks (along with the very
surprising parrot-like squawk that we saw a Veery making at the High Vista
Nature Preserve on May 28).

Mark Chao


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