As I have watched this family of nine adapt to the loss of the female parent, I have marveled at how quickly they have reorganized their family behavior.
Since the female has been absent (last seen June 8th), these juveniles have rallied around the male. Not only are they steadily present, they are keeping watch over the nest area, sounding alerts, chasing away intruders (titmice primarily). And as of yesterday, everyone of them is feeding the nestlings and with greater proficiency.
In yesterday's video below, watch as one of the juvenile females, the last to begin feeding the nestlings, struggles to figure out how to reach the nestlings with the food she has brought. While she is figuring this out, you will see the juvenile male enter to feed first, followed by the adult male. The female juvenile is determined and persistent and tries every angle available to reach the nestlings from her position.
This is the stuff that tugs at the heart-strings. It certainly suggests that there are complex emotions and motivations driving her effort. The male is patient with juvenile efforts, waiting for them to feed, watching as they try to contribute and encouraging with chattering and wing-waving.
The nestlings are popping their heads out of the nestbox to receive food now and are calling when they are hungry. This call is only heard when they haven't been fed for a while and stops soon after feeding begins. I am feeding generous quantities of mealworms several times a day and the family arrives immediately, sometimes before I leave the feeder, eager to begin feeding. Family members are not dependent on the mealworms, however. They are also hunting individually and bringing a variety of other foods.
Today the nestlings are sixteen days old, an age that falls within the 15-18 day range for expected fledging.
To see last year's juvenile's bathing visit: Juvenile Bluebirds Enjoy the Water, and to see last year's juveniles feeding their younger siblings, visit: Juveniles Helping Parents. To see all my bluebird posts visit: Bluebird Family.
Visit this link to learn how to make the predator guard that protects my nestbox residents from cats and raccoons.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.