Lady Bluebird is diligently incubating her eggs now. I sometimes see her in the mornings peeking out of the nest box hole. The incubation period is critical for female Bluebirds because they like their privacy and do not like being disturbed. So, when I go out in the yard to refill the bird feeders, I try to tiptoe past her box and pretend that I don't see her inside.
Lady Bluebird's mate (I still call him "Mr. Bluebird"), also seems to be doing fine. He has been hanging around since May 10th, the date that he and his previous mate took over the first nest box. Poor little fellow! He's been through so much, losing his first mate, who ended up abandoning the nest.
Just a few minutes before I took this photo, Mr. and Lady Bluebird were guarding the second box. The photo below shows them around that box.
In the meantime, we now quite a number of swallows flying around -- three different species in all, including Barn Swallows, the birds I wrote about in my book. The other morning, all three species were flying above the yard.
The few Barn Swallows that arrived in April have now fledged their first broods of the season. It is easy to recognize the juvenile Barn Swallows flying high in the air because they are slightly smaller than the adults and must flap their wings more rapidly.
To the right are some juvenile Barn Swallows whom I was able to photograph on June 22nd. Although their wings are already rather long, their tail feathers have not yet grown to the adult length.
Tree Swallows comprise the second species that was present the other morning. Six Tree Swallows were flying around the second nest box, the box inside which their eggs went missing about a week or so ago. It was quite a decision for me to remove their nest and clean the box after I discovered their eggs to be gone, but a major factor was that the pair of Tree Swallows were no longer hanging around the box. To see photos of Tree Swallows, you can go to my post of May 17th.
I thought that removing the nest in the second box would help deter House Sparrows from nesting in the box, but, judging from what I observed this morning, I might be incorrect about that. I observed a pair of sparrows perching near the box, and the male even went inside the box and came out again.
The same morning when I spotted the Barn and Tree Swallows flying around, three Cliff Swallows flew up to my porch nest. House Sparrows are currently using that nest, but the nest is actually a Cliff Swallow nest. It was a Barn Swallow nest until July 2013, when Cliff Swallows arrived and remodeled it. The nest was used by Cliff Swallows in both 2013 and 2014. More about this in a future post.
If you have enjoyed these photos, you might want to check out the 117 photos in my book, Bonding with the Barn Swallows. Many of them show close-ups of the baby Barn Swallows that were hatched on my porch during 2011 and 2012. There are also photos of the parent swallows guarding the nest and feeding their young. As an extra bonus, the book includes photos of five different juvenile Barn Swallows, just ten days after fledging. You will be amazed at their varied markings. The book describes how one special male Barn Swallow communicated to me by his body language on the utility wire and how, only two days later, I discovered what he was trying to tell me. The book is available by clicking on the image to the right.