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: https://goo.gl/photos/F87v9R9WgvbTd4Y38. 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 -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --