Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blue bird, blue sky

A brilliantly blue sky might be the only thing bluer than an Eastern bluebird. Here on Roundtop, bluebirds may be the most common species found year-round. Chipping sparrows and American robins are more common during summer, but they don’t spend the full year here. Chickadees and tufted titmice are pretty common, too, though they are spread out all over the place, so actual numbers for them are difficult to determine.

Bluebirds are both numerous and easy to quantify. They are easily visible as they ply the grassy ski slopes of summer. It’s not uncommon for me to count 20 of them in a single evening just along the mountain’s western slopes. No nesting boxes are found here. The dead or hollow branches these birds like are also numerous, as evidenced by the one in the background of today’s photo. It’s just as well no one has placed nest boxes for them here at Roundtop. There’s already plenty of them, and more might just result in over-crowding.

In winter, when the slopes are covered with snow, the birds still remain here, though they can be harder to find then. Often, they join up with other species, sometimes with the few over-wintering robins, to forage in winter flocks. They are quick to find any open water or wet spot, and I may see a dozen or more around the tiniest. I routinely put out fruit for them in winter, but truthfully I’ve never had one show up at my feeders. I think the cabin sits too deep in the woods for them.

Near the cabin, but at the bottom of the lane, I often see them in early morning heading out of their roosting tree, where they all seem to sleep. The tree is about 100 yards from the ski slopes, along the power line. Usually, I hear them before I see them. They don’t seem to emerge all at once, though they usually leave within a few minutes of each other. Then they head back to the slopes again, commuting, as it were, back to the grass and then returning each night to their sleeping tree.


The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I almost never see a bluebird around here; just not the right setting. But I'm surprised they're perhaps your most numerous year-around species. I'd have never thought that—though off the top of my head, I don't know what I'd have guessed. Chickadees and titmice might be mine, or house finches, or nuthatches. There's not a moment any day that I can't look out the window and count multiples of each.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: I'm not sure bluebirds are my most common year-round bird, but they have to be very close. Chickadees and titmice come from a decent distance to visit my winter feeder. I've seen them coming from down in the valley up to my feeders. But I've never had more than 6 at one time sitting at the feeder. So to see 20 bluebirds at once seems like a goodly number, even considering that there are certainly titmice and chickadees that don't come to my feeder.