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Bluebirds are symbols of good parentingBluebirds are symbols of good parenting

Bluebirds remind us of parental commitments

Ron Smith

June 10, 2019

2 Min Read
A bluebird perches on a limb, beak filled with building material.Ron Smith

Being a parent is hard work.

That’s not news to anyone who has taken on the responsibility of raising children. It’s a commitment like no other — taking a tiny human from total dependence to a full-functioning adult who, I hope, will take care of me when I’m in my dotage.

I was reminded of how daunting a task parenting is this morning as I looked out our sunroom window, sipping my first cup of coffee and watching two bluebirds flying in and out of the birdhouse to feed three noisy youngsters.

The hard-working pair has been at this day-long chore for about a week now. During daylight hours they never stop — one flies out, the other flies in. Occasionally, they veer from feeding duties to dive bomb the cardinals, blackbirds and house finches that stray too near the nest. They are ferocious in defense of their offspring.

The familial duties began several months back. I first noticed the brightly hued male scoping out the bird house in late February. He perched on the opening, stuck his head in for a quick look and then flew off. He made this preliminary inspection several times before the female showed up. She was more thorough. Where he simply poked his head into the box and peeked around, she went all the way in, stayed for a minute or longer, apparently examining the space, looking for leaks and hazards and checking for comfort.

Related:Young man goes back to farm with no regrets

They disappeared for a while. Sometime in mid-March or early April, they began to show a renewed interest in the homesite; they flew in and out, perched on limbs near the birdhouse and began chasing away the finches, who thought they had prior claim since one of them built a nest here last spring.

The bluebirds prevailed and we started seeing them moving in — a stick and twig at a time. Construction seemed to take a long time; sometimes a week would pass before we saw activity. I resisted the temptation to open the hinged side of the box to get a look. Every family deserves a modicum of privacy. I would occasionally peek into the opening to see if I could detect an egg or the female nesting.

Last week my voyeurism was rewarded with a view of three yellow beaks, wide open and screaming for food. Pat and I began to appreciate the daily chore these two small birds perform to keep their small brood fed.

I would not hazard a guess at how many trips these devoted parents make to capture bugs and fly back to the nest.

It reminds me of parenting. Compressed into a few weeks, these bluebirds attend their babies’ every need until they can fly on their own. Our commitments are longer, but we hope for the same result.

Related:Experience comes with aches and pains

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith

Editor, Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

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