This is a Peterson slant box with a noel guard and a stovepipe guard. The stovepipe guard has slipped down a bit. I would prefer it to be higher up closer to the base of the nest box. The box is in a lower field near a creek that flows into the Missouri river. This area floods with some frequency, but rarely gets high enough to flood the actual box. I keep areas mowed here, but leave clumps of brush and trees that are used by warblers and other birds for nesting. Truth be told, my “farm” is far from optimal bluebird habitat. I have very little in the way of large expanses of short grass, but I still manage to raise a few bluebirds.
This was another mother bluebird that was not inclined to leave the nest as I checked it. You can see the box number partially covered by her tail. I usually just number my boxes with a “sharpie” marker. The numbers on the outside of the boxes fade every year. I have started marking the inside of the boxes as well. These numbers do not fade so quickly and also give confirmation of which box was photographed.
I was eventually able to catch a glimpse without her on the nest. Five blue eggs. So far so good.
At this point I was not certain if the other eggs would still hatch or not. I was also concerned that this might be a cowbird, but I had never seen a cowbird egg and we went from 5 eggs to 4 eggs and a hatchling, so I was still hopeful.
Still just one hatchling. At this point I am starting to abandon hope that the other eggs will hatch.
No doubt at this point that this is in fact a bluebird. I have no idea why the other eggs did not hatch. It is amazing for me, to realize that this bird was actually small enough to fit into one of these eggs only about a week and a half earlier. That is an impressive growth rate.
When I checked the box again on May 14th the nest was empty. The unhatched eggs were gone as well. For record keeping I am inclined to tally this as one bluebird fledged, but the little scientific voice in the back of my head reminds me that I can not be entirely sure that a snake did not empty out the box. I would love to have 24 hour wireless infrared camera surveillance for all of my boxes, but I do not think my wife will go for that. Perhaps ignorance is bliss and I will stick to my image of a nice fat fledgling with two parents attending to his every need.