FROM READERS: Feeding baby Bluebirds

Monday, June 18, 2012 | 4:41 p.m. CDT
John Hall photographed this bluebird in flight at 5:30 in the morning Thursday.

John Hall frequently photographs his mid-Missouri surroundings, and he has been sharing his images with the Missourian for several years. Hall was also recently featured in a Columbia Missourian article, in which he reminisced about his days as a bat boy in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri Baseball League.

This is Mr. Hall's fourth post describing the action of a Bluebird family in his back yard. You can find the first three here, here, and here.

Whew!! What a week it was being co-daddy to four baby bluebirds. Each morning this week has found Yours Truly at the bluebird home talking with Mr. Bluebird and putting out a meal worm breakfast and hot coffee for the worm provider.

One of the photos depicts the feeding bowl that has been home, for a very short time, to 9,000 meal worms. You may not wish to trust my truthfulness in the amount of meal worms consumed, but I went to the place shown in another photo six times to purchase food for the hungry half-orphan bird family.  If anyone is considering a second job I'd suggest "raising worms." Those things are expensive and even more so if you go to a bait shop. Try $100+ if you are guessing what those 9,000 worms cost. But, orphan babies have to eat so...

Every hour, on the hour, the meal worm dish was generously supplied with worms, which Mr. Bluebird methodically took from the bowl, beat to death on top of the fence and then, after dropping a few, made his way into the nest. Early in the week the little ones weren't big enough to look out of the front window but in the last couple of days they have taken turns sticking their heads out in order to get a peek at the world they are about to confront. When Mr. Bluebird first saw them peering out he shied away from taking food to the nest. I believe he thought the pesky sparrow, who had taken up temporary residence late last week, had returned.

(If you can't see the slideshow embedded above, view it on Flickr here.)

I've been a good landlord and have kept the sparrows out of the nest and the robins out of the feeding bowl to the best of my ability. My wife got rather perturbed at me because of a sinus problem I experienced most of the week and she claimed it was exacerbated by the fact I sat for hours under the Sycamore tree to maintain law and order and to keep the buffet line filled.

In the last couple of days the routine was to go outside only long enough to put food in the bowl and listen to a few tales of the perils of fatherhood from my co-worker.   He truly is the "Father of the Year."

There wasn't much time this week for the wren family problems or the English Cocker Spaniels shown in a number of photos. They were a bit jealous that five birds got more attention than they did. One good thing about being outdoors was that I beat the cardinals (everyone beats that sad variety of St. Louis redbirds) and robins to the blackberries a couple of times. I did stop to take a look at the tomatoes from time to time and they are doing very well this year. It may be a bumper crop this time around.

There are a couple of other photos thrown in to break the monotony of bluebirds.  On one of my trips to the Songbird Station I did share a few photos with some bird enthusiasts. I did a check on their enthusiasm by offering to let each one of them come to my house, sit for free in the backyard under a shade tree and keep an eye out for sparrows and robins and also do the hourly feeding. Guess how many takers I had on that offer? Yep, the same number of people who come around when you're tilling the garden. People only come around a garden when it's time to pick the fresh vegetable. Oh no, they won't pick them but will take whatever you offer them. Well, that is another long, short story for another time.

If any of you have questions about the care and feeding of baby bluebirds, let me know.  

I close this transmission by directing your attention to another photo. It was around 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning when I went out to be sure Mr. Bluebird was awake. He was on the end of the fence watching what I was doing. I had my camera with me, obviously, but I wasn't expecting to take any photos at that time. Without being able to prepare to take that photo, I heard him make a commotion and turned as he headed for me. I shot him and this was the result. I'd give about $1.50 to have been able to focus on him a bit better and do some camera adjustments. The quality of the photo isn't much but the pose is first class.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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