Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Bird Brains

Bluebirds are in residence here year round. It is a joy to watch them swooping from the trees on the edge of the north ravine, pausing to perch on the power line or spend a moment swaying at the tip of the 'Jane' magnolias. 
Bluebirds became nearly extinct in Vermont, although they were present during my long-ago childhood.
In our dozen years in Kentucky we have not witnessed this frantic behavior of a bluebird male at nest building time.
This bird is demented!
Sitting at my desk on Sunday morning I became aware of a 'tapping' sound, first behind me on the west-facing bedroom window, then moments later on the horizontal window in the bathroom. Several cats were bounding from one room to the other, leaping across furniture, batting at the windows.

After several hours of this, J. went out to the shop and returned with a hastily constructed birdhouse, having googled the proper diameter for the entrance cutout.
He placed it high on the edge of the house, not far from the front porch.

I had my doubts about this location--too near where the cats are apt to lounge in the sunshine, however I wasn't consulted.
Almost immediately the pair of bluebirds investigated the new residence and Mamma Bird seemed intrigued. She even fetched a few wisps of dried grass and poked her little bundle through the door.

Meanwhile, Poppa Bluebird has continued to bash endlessly at windows. The window of the shop is a favorite; when he flaps around pecking and bashing he also lets loose with streams of poop!
I've cleaned the screen and the sill twice. 

When I venture close with my camera he flies up to the edge of the roof.

After the first clean-up of the window I hung an aluminum pie pan on a length of garden twine, hoping that the rattle and motion would discourage the bluebird. That worked for nearly an hour.


Meanwhile from inside, each flash of the bird's wings near the kitchen window sends a cat or two hurtling across the counter to take up a look-out post.
J. shouts at the cats to 'get down!'
I am becoming exasperated with the mess and the uproar, but these are birds and cats, both behaving as their instincts dictate.

Thus far the birdhouse seems to be used as a perch for a moment's rest in between frantic swoops.

J. parked the Honda in front of the house so he could back out one of his trucks that was sharing the garage alley.
[These are zoom shots which make it appear that the shed below the west meadow is near the house.]

 Immediately Mr. Bluebird investigated, leaving his tell-tale calling cards.
What does his reflection signify? Does he believe he is seeing a potential mate? A rival?

There's nothing like a bluebird at eye level while working at the kitchen sink.

After returning from errands I parked my car in the long garage/shed that parallels the workshop, wiped down the splooges of bird do with vinegar and water. 
Beautiful birds--but--four days of this madness and mess is enough!
Whatever faze of bluebird courtship is happening we're ready for something calmer.


  1. What a mess!! I think Bluebirds are lovely and all but I think if I were in your situation I'd want them to move farther from the house/vehicles.
    We don't have Bluebirds here in the Fraser Valley but we've often seen them in the interior of the province. Granny M

    1. G.M.: I think we have a classic situation between humans and wildlife. I remember that in Wyoming the mule deer were bold enough to eat flowers from the front porch planters. Here we have the possums and racoons who are prone to ravaging the garden just as the melons start to ripen. We don't shoot or poison creatures so I guess we will have to endure messy windows.

  2. A couple of years ago, we had a pair of bluebirds that took over the place just as you are describing. With the first morning light, the male would start beating on our bedroom windows. Sleeping in just a bit became a thing of the past. These birds did not behave like our old favorite eastern bluebirds so I began to do some research. It seems there is a more aggressive cousin that is actually taking over housing and breeding territory of the beloved bluebirds. I am still confused about all this, but am thankful that the bluebirds here this year seem normal. Good luck!

    1. Mary; Thank you for that information. I don't recall seeing a western bluebird during our 12 years in Wyoming--and I think I would remember. I've been outside observing our resident manic bird--definitely the orange coloring on chin and breast, so an eastern bluebird. This is not 'normal' behavior compared to what we've noticed other years. Perhaps there are more birds in the immediate area and this has sparked a more aggressive mode.

  3. They are SO beautiful, so . . . BLUE! I think he sees a rival in the reflection in the glass - we had this down at mum's flat - the kitchen window - with a little Goldcrest one year. He bounced up and down and along the climbing rose and was incandescent with rage as his rival wouldn't go away! I imagine the hurtling cats and Bluebird poop are annoying though :)

    1. Jennie; How quickly this has gone from an opportunity to see the bluebirds close up to a rather aggravating and messy situation! The bluebirds have previously spent their time on the power line that crosses the dooryard or perched on branches of trees overlooking the edge of the north ravine. I think bird do is damaging to automotive paint so I'm out there with my spray bottle and rags to clean up after them.