YRK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — For the second time this week, we bring you a video of baby birds being fed by their parents. First up were European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris); This time they’re Eastern Bluebirds, (Sialia sialis).
Bluebird parents can be told apart by their colors. Males are the gaudy ones; brilliant blue on head and back, a reddish-brown on the breast, and a white tummy. The females are more subdued, being predominately gray, with a little blue on the tail and wings. The fledglings have gray with spots on their backs and chests, blue on their wings and tails-and wide-open beaks.
Bluebirds hatch out blind, with only a few tufts of down. By the time they open their eyes around eight days after hatching, they’ve already grown a fair number of feathers. After about two weeks, they are ready to leave the nest and make their first flights.
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Not that they’re going to fly far. They’re still under the care of their parents which, among other things, means mom and dad are still stuffing food down their beaks. The fledglings here are displaying “begging behavior” common to many species of birds- opening wide, fluttering their wings, and yelling their heads off.
But some of these fledglings are already taking the next big step. While still begging, they’re also starting to peck at the mealworms themselves. They’ll get the hang of it eventually, and be ready to go out into the big wide world.
In many societies, bluebirds are symbols of good news, hope, and optimism. The fact we have bluebirds to photograph at all is good news in itself. In 1970, bluebirds were in serious decline. In some areas, the numbers were down as much as 70 percent. One of the biggest reasons was competition from starlings (an introduced species) and house sparrows (another introduced species). Another big reason was humans cut down trees with the cavities bluebirds nested in.
But across the country, people started putting up bluebird boxes, providing the birds with a cavity nest and an entry hole big enough to let bluebirds in, but keep larger birds out. By the mid-2000s bluebird numbers were on the rebound.
To see a growth chart of bluebird babies, click here.