Bluebird Nesting at ACLT in Pictures July 1, 2020 By Community Relations Manager Anyone who has come to visit ACLT’s northside trailhead and Double Oak Farm has undoubtedly noticed the birdhouses nestled along the edge of the woods. These nesting boxes have been built and placed specifically for Eastern bluebirds. You may have even seen a bluebird or two flying about and a feathered head poking out, but just what goes on inside? To one of the volunteers, this time is especially meaningful. Sandy Foley, Master Naturalist and avid hiker, faithfully watches the bluebird boxes around Double Oak and elsewhere in the Parker’s Creek Preserve. She speaks as if these little birds were family, and anyone who knows her would agree. Watching the birds move into their box of choice and lay eggs and then following the babies as they hatch and fledge is really heartwarming to see. Photo credit: Bob Field A picture is worth a thousand words and thanks to Sandy, we have a number of pictures from this spring to show you exactly what goes on inside of bluebird nesting boxes. Inside of this box, you can see a completed nest carefully woven from dried grass and thin twigs. It is actually the male bluebird that picks a nesting site with the hope that a female will come to join him in completing the nest. After the nest is built, the female bluebird lays 4 to 5 little blue eggs. She will sit on these for about 12 days while the chicks inside develop and prepare to hatch. In the days following their hatching, bluebird chicks will continue to grow in the nest while being fed insects and berries by both parents. These hatchlings in Box X at Warrior’s Rest have not yet opened their eyes or developed flight feathers, leaving them totally dependent on their parents for survival. After another week, the chicks are fully feathered and closer to leaving the nest. It takes about 20 days after hatching for bluebirds to fledge. Earlier in the season, there were 4 hatchlings in Box 9 at Double Oak, 4 hatchlings in Box W at Warrior’s Rest, and 10 hatchlings in Boxes A and C at the South Side, along with two new nests in additional boxes. Currently, there are 4 eggs in one of the boxes at Double Oak, another 5 eggs in a box at the South Side, and 5 hatchlings in a box at Warrior’s Rest. Bluebird nesting and fledging will continue throughout the early summer and into July. You can still see the bluebirds flying around and visiting their nests in boxes around ACLT. Stop by Double Oak Farm and the Griffin Meadow Trail on the North Side to view them during your hike from easily accessible areas. We only ask that you leave the nesting boxes with mothers and babies for our trained volunteers to check. These nesting boxes provide important habitat for the local bluebird population. Thank you for your support from all of us at ACLT! You can find out more about Eastern bluebirds and how to build your own nesting box at MDNR’s Eastern Bluebird – Maryland’s Wild Acres information page. Listen to the song of the Eastern bluebird here.