Bluebirds might hang around this winter
Published 5:45 am Saturday, September 30, 2017
At least five of the eastern bluebirds on Charlie Brown Road did not “migrate” during the winter of 2016-17. As devoted readers of this column already know, Ma, Pa and three of their kids (two girls and a boy) stuck around all last winter. It’s looking like an identical scenario is set to repeat for ’17-’18.
Just before spring arrived and love was in the air, last year’s young ones finally moved away and there is no way of knowing just how far. Nor is there any way to know if they came home on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, Ma and Pa raised eight new youngens (two broods) that grew to adulthood this year. The parents and tree of the offspring (two more girls and a guy) are still here. It is very easy to tell the difference because Ma and Pa are not nearly as brightly colored as the young squirts. Nor is there any way of knowing if the on-lingerers are from the first or second broods. We do know, for sure, that at least three of the first brood this year helped raise their second brood siblings but, by the end of August, it was impossible to tell which was which.
All we know is that, around Labor Day, we had 10 very active bluebirds, including Ma and Pa, roosting in either the nest box or the trees that surround it Now we’re down to five again and we’re assuming, because we are uber-optomistic, the other 5 have departed to someplace warmer than they expect central Kentucky will be over the next several months. Surely, we have to believe, snakes or hawks have not made meals of five young bluebirds on Charlie Brown Road.
Last week, we started to believe that we had discovered a brand new species that we were dubbing the rare and elusive purple-faced blue bird. But that was before we noticed it was simply the resident juveniles pigging out on polk berries that grow in the fencerow and alongside the road. Polk berry juice was once used as a dye by our ancestors and it seems that younger blue birds can’t eat polk berries without getting the juice all over their bills and facial feathers. Or maybe they’re simply getting an early start on Halloween. All the big box stores have been at it for weeks. For that matter, even the match box and cracker box stores have seemed overly focused on Halloween and all things autumn since before Labor Day.
But we won’t grouse about that right now because we’re having too much fun with bluebirds. Some would say, we have way too much time on our hands. When we point out that bird scholars are paid big bucks to make astute observations such as the fact that a blue bird devouring fat, late season, grasshoppers is the human equivalent to eating whole turkeys, including heads, feet and feathers, several times a day, someone we know and love is apt to suggest that we run up to UK and see if they’ll put us on the payroll.
But that would take all the fun out of it. We are supposed to be retired.
In the meantime, yet again, we are left to wonder why the bluebirds never come to the feeders we have hung about any time there’s snow on the ground. Even when we put out suet laced with crickets, grasshoppers and meal worms, the resident bluebirds seem more content to fend for themselves. We’d call UK and ask if we might get paid to do a study on that phenomenon but we’re pretty sure they already have it solved and, like crossword puzzles, it’s far more amusing to figure some things out ourselves without relying on the internet or a dictionary.
Finally, this is the last time you’ll hear me say that if you don’t show up for Village Fest in Historic Paint Lick on Oct. 7, between late morning and dusk, don’t blame me when everybody starts telling you what a great time they had. You might even see some bluebirds flitting through the pines there in front of The Denny House Bed and Breakfast Inn.
Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.