Spring Bird Sketches

This time of year is full of distractions for me; I sit down to read a book, but the bird activity outside every window draws my attention and makes it hard for me to focus on the written word. I am occupied nearly all day long “reading” the wonders of nature, of new life and of hard-working parent birds, in addition to the glories of spring flowers of all sizes and colors. The birds are singing their most vociferously, and they are coming and going from our feeders all days long.

This spring we have a Robin pair nesting in the entrance to my garden shed, right under the deck below our front door. I’m trying to minimize how much we go in and out that door, so as to lessen disturbances that frighten the mama off her nest. When she’s not on her nest I sometimes slip over quietly to take a quick photo so I can then sketch the nest. I prefer to sketch from life for my sketchbook, but I can’t see into the nest without disturbing the mother, so photos have to suffice in this case. (If you click on the image you’ll be able to read my notes about when the eggs were laid and when they hatched.)

We have two pairs of Bluebirds nesting in natural holes in stumps of dead trees in our woods. One pair is in the woods on the western side of our yard and the other in the woods on the eastern side, across the stream.

The nesting hole of the Bluebirds on the western side of our woods (BW) faces east toward the back window of my bungalow where I start my mornings in prayer and Bible reading, and they have provided plenty of distraction, since I can watch their comings and goings unobserved. I watched early on as the female was clearly spending most of her time incubating eggs, with the male going back and forth, then I was able to see the last baby being fed before he (or she) finally left the nest to join his siblings in the trees. Now the parents are constantly back and forth from our deck, filling their beaks with seed or suet, then flying back to the trees.

The Bluebirds on the eastern side (BE) have their nest higher up in a much taller, thinner stump. Their nest hole also faces east, so I haven’t been able to observe it easily, since I have to go way back in the woods to see it. What I have been able to observe, however, is the differences in behavior of the two pairs.

The BW male seems to be dominant, and he frequently perches on top of the tall corner posts of our deck, from whence he chases the BE male away. Once I saw the BW male chasing the BE female away, and I’ve seen the BW female chasing the BE female away. The BW male also seems to have become so territorial that he often starts tapping at his reflection in or kitchen window. Fortunately leaving the kitchen lights on seems to lessen the reflections enough that he desists from that vain effort and returns to feeding his family (and fortunately our lights are LED’s so they don’t use much electricity and don’t generate much heat).

We’ve also been enjoying the beautiful singing of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks! On April 29th we had a beautiful, mature male stop by. We haven’t seen him since, but a female showed up briefly on May 5th, and then yesterday and today we’ve had a first year male singing off and on all day, including while standing atop out feeder pole! I haven’t sketched him yet, but here are my sketches of the mature male. As with all the Bluebird sketches, the sketches were done from life, with color added later.