I was thinking about what I was going to write about at Beautiful Wildlife Garden Blog this week when I decided on eggs. I have 5 bluebird eggs in the nest box close to hatching in a few days. And, I knew the mockingbirds had set up shop in my neighbor's oak tree that is about 5 feet from my side gate.
The mockingbirds had a little help from me in choosing this site since they were initially trying to build in one of my wax myrtles but were attacking the bluebirds. That shrub is somewhat close to the nest box...at least according to the mockingbirds. My concern was that the bluebirds only nest in the nest box and the mockingbirds could pretty much choose any tree or shrub to build in. Mind you, last year I had a brood of healthy bluebirds that hatched on March 17th. This year they were barely able to start building by then...despite the fact that 2012 is considerably warmer. I attributed the delay to the mockingbirds being territorial.
Soooo, as the mockers would bring nesting materials to the shrub, I would remove it. They tried several times, with me taking away small bits of pine needles each time. After a while I decided to remove the branches that seemed so enticing. That's when they moved "out of the area" and started building a new nest in the oak about 120 feet away. There was a leftover nest from a successful brood last year and the new one was fashioned a few branches closer to the ground.
Back to my article idea! I carefully opened the bluebird nest box after I saw mom leave for a minute. I quickly snapped a shot of the eggs and closed the door just as quickly. I then headed over to the oak tree. Since I couldn't see inside the nest, I just held up my camera over the nest (I could reach up that far) and took a quick photo. I was pretty shocked when I pulled the camera down and looked at the screen. Instead of eggs, there was one gaping baby and a few others snoozing away. I thought about taking another shot to see if I could determine just how many nestlings there are in there, when suddenly, mom and dad arrived in B52 formation zeroing in on my head. Luckily I was wearing my garden hat which protected me as I quickly raced to the gate to give them room.