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Submitted By

Glenda Simmons

Tallahassee, FL, United States


I observed this, juvenile, Eastern Bluebird, from the previous brood, helping feed it’s younger siblings for 6 days, prior to their fledging. The first time, I witnessed this I thought, perhaps, it was a one time event, since the mealworms happened to be close by, but then saw the juvenile fly to the ground, where he plucked a spider from the grass, taking it back to feed the nestlings, inside the box. After this brood fledged, I continued to see the helper come to a mealworm feeder,I put out in the evenings, and take worms up to a large Oak Tree, where this pair, always led their young for safe keeping the first week, so he, definitely, was a good helper! I knew this behavior occurred, but I have only witnessed it once in 10 years of monitoring.


Eye Witness

The Helper

12 responses to “The Helper”

  1. Emily says:

    Great shot! I’ve observed the same behavior in Western Bluebirds this season, and some older siblings continued feeding the younger ones after the latter are fledged.

  2. Wings42 says:

    Wonderful. With all the horrible news of humanity killing humanity, this is so uplifting. Thanks.

  3. Joanne says:

    It is indeed uplifting — heartwarming – and something to show children — think how that conversation among the children would be.

  4. Laura says:

    What a beautiful shot of nature! I never knew juveniles would help feed a brood. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Mary Miller says:

    I love your two pictures of the juvenile bluebirds–the one with 4 young and the mother, and the juvenile helping feed the young. Would you give me permission to use either or both in my bluebird presentation? I monitor a 51 box bluebird trail in Hillsborough County and give frequent presentations to civic clubs, Audubon chapters, schools, etc. Your pictures would be a great addition to my talk and I would certainly give you credit on the photos.
    Thanks for your consideration of this request.

  6. Kathy says:

    My husband just cleaned out all the bird houses for new birds to build nests. We now have eastern blue birds building a nest in one we call the field garden house. I’m excited to see them flying back and forth feeding their young

  7. Kathy says:

    I should have mentioned we live in central Me, it seems early to have bluebirds nesting but they are and it’s great . We love nature

  8. Bill Herriott says:

    Blue Birds have laid 3 blue eggs in the nest and don’t seem to be sitting on the eggs. I have seen them defend the house but they haven;t been in or out of it for about a week. Do they come back to the nest to hatch their young?

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Bill, Birds lay one egg per day, and while it’s uncommon for them to take a break in laying eggs, birds’ eggs can survive up to two weeks without being incubated. We recommend waiting at least 4 weeks from the last time you saw a female tending to the nest before considering them abandoned. This covers that two week viability period and two weeks for incubation – adult birds can be sneaky and it’s possible this one could be foraging for food when you check the nest. Otherwise, it’s normal not to see much activity at the box when the female is laying eggs and incubating (she’s either returning only once per day to lay an egg, or she’s sitting on the nest all day long, only leaving to forage when needed).

  9. Marianne Winslow says:

    I have a three house bird condo. One house has been used for a few nestlings by a returning pair. Shortly after the eggs hatched recently, I’ve noticed another male sitting atop the condo, fluttering his wings and going in one of the other houses quite often. The pair with the family doesn’t seem bothered by his presence. Does anyone know if this is a common occurrence?
    Jacksonville, FL

  10. Dennis Patton says:

    I have been watching my first brood of juvenile bluebids feed each other while sitting on top of my birdhouses. Today the female was begging the male for food, and he flew down, retrieved a bug, and feed her. This has been happening for a week now, early mornings and evenings. The second pair chose my hanging birdhouse to nest in, while the first pair used my bluebird box.

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