As we segue into late summer our Western Bluebird couple, Blue Ivy Carter, the dad, and Sage, the mom (named by students last year), have successfully fledged two families of bluebirds, one in early June and the other in late July! Six babies from the first clutch dispersed shortly after fledging in early June, you can see five of them resting on a branch of the Jacaranda tree east of the Sacred Heart Chapel.
The mystery of the whereabouts of the fledged babies has not been solved, Ian Kimbrey, our Bluebird Box creator and overseer of our birds, said no one really knows where they go. None of the first family members stuck around Campus, according to birders looking for them, while the second clutch of five babies hatched in late July. Four of the five fledglings are still being seen on Campus the beginning of August, and will probably move on to find their own territory later in the year. Ian said it is not unusual for these birds to “double–clutch” if it’s been a good year with plenty of food – which our 2022 winter rains probably provided.
Because the LMU Campus is so “birdy” (we have over 160 species of birds recorded and the Campus itself is considered a birding “hotspot” on the eBird website, we also see other birds, such as our resident Great Horned Owl couple, who recently fledged two babies who have been roosting in the big pine trees along side the Sacred Heart Chapel. Just as the second clutch of bluebirds was about to fledge some of the juvenile owls started exploring their surroundings, roosting in the Jacaranda tree where the bluebird box is! That made for some tense observations, not knowing if the owls were just snoozing or planning on making the bluebirds part of a meal! Luckily, we think they were just curious and moved on to look for meatier pray (we hope).
Oh, and it’s important to point out that the amount of live and dried mealworms we feed the birds while observing them is actually insignificant in that they can survive perfectly fine without our supplements. Attracting the birds to feeding stations on Campus gives us an opportunity to observe and study them more closely. It’s also part of a bigger picture where we hope to be studying bluebirds in the area next year. Our site at LMU is one of over 30 in Southern California that Ian Kimbrey manages. Currently there are 35 breeding pairs among nearly 50 nest boxes.
CURes is very grateful for the funding provided by the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust to support Ian Kimbrey’s efforts in the field the past two years, and we are very excited to continue our work in years to come by expanding our research activities at LMU to include banding the birds and following them more closely. Because of Ian Kimbrey’s CheepCheep Homes Nest Box program, which started in 2009 with a mere 3 boxes along the north side of Penmar Golf Course in Venice (resulting in six chicks successfully fledged from one nest box) and then expanded over the years to include Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica and boxes up in Santa Barbara, the total fledges in 2021 were 144 – taking the total number of fledges past the 1,000 mark in 12 years! Last year’s total was 171, and with two nests just counted today, August 4, Ian is reporting that the current tally for 2023 stands at 188. Wow, that’s a lot of bluebird babies!
Another fun fact about bluebirds is that they seem to enjoy being around people, and are not fazed by humans checking their nest boxes. Aren’t we lucky at LMU to have them! Of course, as the old saying goes, “luck is preparation meeting opportunity”, and that’s exactly what we did two years ago when we put up our first bluebird nest box in July of 2021 after seeing Western Bluebirds on Campus. Thanks again to Ian’s herculean efforts and the support of the Stern Foundation!
Now, for fun please feel free to go to these YouTube video links below to see how our LMU bluebirds behave – and be sure to check out Barbara Weaver’s fantastic flickr photo stream vignette of her visit to see the 2nd brood of baby Bluebirds on Sunday, July 16 peeking out of the nest box (having not yet fledged) – and an unexpected appearance of one of our resident juvenile Great Horned Owls in broad daylight! Crazy! Go Bluebirds!
Sexing the Fledges – July 21 2023
LMU Bluebirds Second Brood Assembly Line of Feeding – July 14 2023
First Brood Babies Learning to Eat on their Own – July 3 2023
LMU Bluebird Parents Teaching First Brood how to Eat – June 28 2023
WEBL Babies have Hatched May 15 2023
Western Bluebird Male Gorging on Live Mealworms May 2023
Western Bluebird Female Gorging on Live Mealworms May 2023
Western Bluebird Courting Behavior at Feeder in March 2023