For the August Bethlehem Star. From Rev. Van Oort
Bluebirds Again (Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.) Matthew 6:29
This time there were four eggs. The first clutch fledged on June 9th, 16 days after hatching on May 23. The parents did feed the first fledglings for two or three days after they emerged from the nesting box. After the first brood was on their own, the parents took a couple of weeks off. Then they started a new nest in a different nesting box near the first one. By June 26 there were four eggs and on July 11 four new tiny bluebirds had emerged from the captivity of the bright blue eggs.
The nesting box for this brood was right next to the vegetable garden. This garden was no longer a garden, as a family of woodchucks had taken residence under the garden shed. That was convenient for these garden raiders, because the shed was a mere ten feet away. There was also a regular group of foraging deer, known by their hoof prints left in the snow of winter past. This group of deer consisted of a doe, a yearling and now likely this year’s fawn. They finished off what the woodchucks had left before capping off their garden feast with lily blossoms. When I was County Fair Standardbred Race Day NY State inspector, I would yearly bring home one or two exotic lilies from a grower in Caladonia, NY, the home of the Livingston County Fair. So, we have a more than modest lily garden. We fleetingly enjoy seeing the blossoms before they become fodder for the deer herd within hours of bursting into glory.
The two bluebird parents can be seen flying above the eight decapitated tomato plants, racing home to the waiting nestlings with insects in their beaks. Those sightings more than compensate for the absence of green beans, lettuce, and the promise of tomatoes. All of those can be bought at the grocery store, but you cannot buy the sight of a brilliant blue streak carrying food to nestlings every couple of minutes.
A two-strand electric fence, two and four inches above the ground around the garden shed and garden, too lately placed to save the beans, appears to have been an adequate eviction notice for the woodchuck family. The next door neighbor just down the lane, a day after the fence was put into service, saw a large woodchuck followed by three half grown offspring headed down a path past their house toward a large swampy area a hundred yards away. The neighbor thinks he heard them whistling “Don’t fence me in” as they went. Woodchucks are known for their whistle-like vocalizations. I hope the eviction lasts. The lilies will bloom again next year, and if only for a day or even a few hours will proclaim “look my way.” Together with bluebirds on the wing, they will provide food for the soul.