Do bluebirds consider real estate options like we do...neighborhoods, appearance and the like? They definitely move house sometimes, I've seen it.
The bluebirds had moved in to the red bird house outside my Batch studio. I was thrilled. Happy that a pair had chosen to come to the old red, bluebird box again. Bernie had been telling me about his plan to take it down. A pair had raised two sets of chicks there the year before so it wasn't very hard to convince him not to. When a pair was seen fighting off other bird box seekers and bringing plant material and bugs to the hole, Bernie snuck over and shored it up for them instead of taking it down.
I was thrilled. From my painting desk I could see a flutter of blue as they came and went. How fine they looked sitting there so blue next to their little red house on the twigs above our tiny garden.
My studio is small, round and open most days on both ends. It resembles a giant section of culvert. It is so alive with life.
The bluebirds bustled to and from the red box just feet from my desk. A king bird had already hatched out her chicks above the door, less than 4 feet away. I would hear the babies peeping for her to return with food.
Hummers zoomed through the open doors, making a high speed short cut through the Batch instead of flying around it. One day a dragonfly hovered next to my ear for a moment like he was looking at the painting I was working on. I loved this surrounding life, especially the bluebirds.
Bernie was thrilled that I was happy about the bluebirds. One day, after work, he decided to make another nesting box. He used what he had around for material. By wine time he had a beautiful old wood and copper-roofed bird box.
We stared at it over our wine and decided it was so fine it should be hung on the telephone pole that we see from our deck where we eat diner. No time was wasted. A ladder was fetched and the box hung high on the pole next to our clothes line.
The next morning there was a male bluebird sitting on the clothesline, cocking his head and eyeing the box as if contemplating moving in. Around lunch, to our excitement he was spied flying in to and out of it. At the end of the day, we spotted him on the clothesline looking at the box.
We were excited. Was he going to move in? It felt like fishing when a big fish is about to bite the lure.
The next day there was a female sitting on the line next to the male. They were both looking at the box. It looked like they were talking and he was trying to convince her they should move in before someone else did.
To our great joy, we noticed that both birds were soon coming and going from the hole. Yay! They had moved in. We had another pair to watch.
This is when I discovered things were quiet at the red box in front of my studio. Where were my bluebirds? Was she quietly on the nest? After a day or two of seeing no action, I gently knocked on the box. No flight. No peep. No answer of any kind.
My bluebirds had left the old red house and all that they had prepared there, for the new one with the copper roof.
Was the fancy new house with the copper roof just too irresistible? Can a bluebird suffer the same weakness of desire for the “shiny new” that humans can? That sure seems like what had happened.
Then as quickly as the bluebirds had moved in...trouble in Paradise. They left and returned to the red house. It sure made them look inexperienced and flighty. We wondered if perhaps the copper roof made the box too warm in the direct sun.
I started thinking of how bluebirds learn lessons and what later might become good experience in nest site choice. They had been silly to move I thought. But then...
The lively king bird babies went missing from their nest before they could fly. That's when I thought of my big black resident snake. Perhaps the bluebirds were trying to move away from a dangerous neighborhood.
The bluebirds raised another set of chicks back in the old red box. They went missing. Sometimes no decision is going to be the right one.