Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, January 31, 2014

Bluebirds in the garden

Bluebirds have been visiting the birdbaths for the last few days! They're year round residents in Middle Tennessee and often travel in small family groups, but, this could be a part of a migratory flock that's passing through. I hope a mating pair settle into the garden this year, the beautiful flash of blue at the birdbath is a delight.

Bluebirds like wide open spaces, so I've placed the bluebird box in a clearing with a tree near enough for perching. They've reared their young here before and I am hoping this year that one of the males will find the bluebird box in the front garden to his liking. He can then use his persuasive powers to convince a female to move into his thoughtfully chosen nesting site. I've never seen their courtship, but, read that it's quite charming and when I stumbled upon this "romantic" description, I had to share it!

"The male usually arrives a few days ahead of the female, selects what he considers to be a suitable summer home, and carols his sweetest, most seductive notes day after day until she appears in answer to his call. Then he flutters before her, displaying the charms of his widespread tail and half-opened wings, warbling in delicious, soft undertones, to win her favor. At first she seems indifferent to the gorgeous blue of his overcoat or the warm reddish brown of his ardent breast. He perches beside her, caresses her in the tenderest and most loving fashion, and sings to her in most endearing terms. Perhaps he may bring to her some delicious morsel and place it gently in her mouth, as an offering. Probably he has already chosen the cavity or box that he thinks will suit her; he leads her to it, looks in, and tries to persuade her to accept it, but much persistent wooing is needed before the nuptial pact is sealed." (Arthur Cleveland Bent series on Birds of North America) 
That cute bird bottom belongs to a nuthatch that also stopped by for a drink
Let's hope a Mr likes it here and can persuade the Mrs to move in. It's a great neighborhood, with insects, fruit and berries for them to dine on, fresh water and a lovely, well maintained bluebird house. Of course, the landlady will respect their privacy!


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. How fortunate you are to have them visit you!

  2. Those are so very sweet! Your photos are wonderful. I wish we had some here.

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  4. Beautiful photos!
    I do hope a pair will stay with you.
    Driving down the street earlier this week, I saw a robin. Spring will be here soon!
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  5. I definitely hope so for you too. Those photos are fabulous!!!!!

  6. I long for the return of the bluebirds. Do you have tree swallows there? We have to put two boxes right next to each other so that the tree swallows take one and the bluebirds get the other.

  7. Great photos, especially the bird butt. I hope you manage to attract a nesting pair.

  8. Beautiful photos, Gail. Is that a heated birdbath?

    1. Yes, it's heated and it worked very well in single digit temps.

  9. They're beautiful, Gail. I don't see a lot here, but we're pretty woodsy, with lots of houses. Great shots!

  10. Wonderful! I had a nesting pair of bluebirds last year and they were such fun to watch. Jewels in the sky! I do hope they choose your neighborhood. They really would be foolish not to.

  11. I hope you get a nesting pair this year too. They are the most fun to watch. I have had them in the open lot beside my garden before, several times. They don't like my shaded busy garden for nesting. I put a box up that points out toward the lot. So I am also waiting and hoping for a bluebird family to move in.

  12. I hope a pair of bluebirds settle in my garden this spring. I saw a male a few years ago checking out a nesting box, but I don't think he like it because I just saw them once.

  13. can hardly wait until I spot them here by the woods.
    thought I saw a Robin the other day
    but may not have.
    sleeting here at the moment :)

  14. I love bluebirds too! They are so beautiful and so cute all at the same time. Great pictures. You really captured their sweetness. I hope you get a nesting pair soon!

  15. I can't believe Mr. Bluebird wouldn't pick your choice garden to build his family....they are my fav bird and I am so glad our state bird too!! I have been seeing a small group of bluebirds all winter...they built a home here and are raising a small brood. I wonder if the young ones from the summer will make their home here too!!

  16. Such sweet photos, Gail! I've always wished we had bluebirds here; I did read somewhere that we do have bluebirds in Illinois, but I've never seen one. Love the story about about their courtship ritual; I hope they decide to move in at Clay and Limestone!

  17. Nice post , i hope everyone , will like your post

  18. Oh Gail ~ your fabulous bluebird photos are a balm to my soul. I can't think of a better place to nest than C&L. They would get the juiciest, most organic insects around to nourish their young. I hope you get a pair in your box. We used to have the mountain bluebirds nest in our garden when we lived in Wyoming. We had a field behind our house so it was the perfect set up. I miss seeing them here.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving me the nice comment. It's good to "see" you again. Hugs.

  19. Gail these are the prettiest bird! One we never have in my zone.Only blue bird we have is the Bluejay.How wonderful that you get to see these beauties every day! Happy birding! No snow in your part of the world I see.
    I have enough here for us all!

  20. We had a flock of bluebirds pass through last winter. I'd love for them to visit again this year. Maybe I will add a bluebird box to my new meadow garden!

  21. Never saw them in my yard, but a local wetlands preserve here places boxes in fields at the edge of the wooded areas. I have heard they prefer the boxes that face a certain direction - east maybe?

  22. I can't get over how sweet they are. I've never seen them here. Am leaving my computer straight away to work with my hand weights. I've been inspired by that nuthatch - can you believe how strong those little toes are? I've definitely got some work to do.

  23. My heart skips a beat every time I see a flash of blue flying through my garden. We had a pair nest last year but one brood died and the other eggs were eaten by a snake. It is tough being a blue bird! I hope you have better luck! Love the shot with the birdie bottom!

  24. They are so gorgeous...and you got photos. Until last summer at the farm, I had only ever heard about the mythical blue bird...and then walking through the asparagus farms near the edge by the road, a flash of blue. I raised my lens as fast as I could, and caught a tiny whiff of blue.

    You are so very fortunate.


  25. I get so happy when I see bluebirds in my garden--anywhere really and Tennessee is really blessed with a pretty good population. Too cute on the female drinking while the male stands watch!

  26. What lovely charmers they are! I've never actually seen bluebirds in real life, can you believe it? But here in suburbia they are rare indeed.

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"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson