photography by King Davis | bye-bye bluebird babies

bye-bye bluebird babies

May 28, 2015  •  2 Comments

Please note: this post not intended for the tender-hearted.


small -6066small -6066bluebird chicks

In the year of our Lord 2015, as spring progressed, i increasingly believed this might be the first in many years there would be no new batches of bluebirds in my tenant housing.  For weeks i had seen prospective couples checking out the listings in my yard, but only about three weeks ago did i realize i had some takers.

small -5605small -5605male bluebird flying home

The happy couple was in a home that had never been occupied.  I had assumed it never would be, as the local tree rats took the liberty of remodeling the front door soon after it was built, quite a few seasons back.

small -5601small -5601feeding bluebird chicks

But here they were, shuttling food in…and waste out.  I eventually was able to see five little beaks, courtesy the squirrelly architecture.  This added to my amazement, as three is the most i’ve ever observed in a brood.

small -5679small -5679Female bluebird taking out the trash Photography began as a serious pursuit in my mid-teens, coinciding with my stint as a disc jockey.  In both applications, one learns that timing matters.  To photograph the birds as they mature and leave their box would require patience of course, but at an even more obvious level, i would need to be around at the right time…something over which i don’t always have control.

small -2803small -2803Female bluebird bringing worm for chicks

But as the days marched on, it seemed as if the timing might work favorably for getting good imagery.  By Memorial Day, when i would be afforded a block of time to watch and wait, the babies were big, and flapping their wings inside the box.  The camera was on the porch, the gopro a couple of feet from the box, and i thought the exodus might happen at any moment.  Instead, rain happened, and following that, the night.  So on Tuesday i was up early in hopes of not missing the event.  The morning was spent getting stills and gopro footage and then as noon approached, so did the rain, again.

feeding bluebird chicksFeeding bluebird chicks

I saw the shower as opportunity to eat lunch, as there wouldn’t likely be any effort to get the kids out during the downpour.  When i came back out, the yard was in an uproar.  Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird were raising a racket (which i took to mean they were coaxing their kids to come out).  But in addition to the parents, there was a bevy of birds, boisterous as could be: nuthatches, robins, warblers and cardinals.  So my second thought was that the bluebird parents were uptight because they wanted their cousins out of the picture (and of my pictures  : )

small -6506small -6506brown-headed nuthatches small -6433small -6433warbler(?) small -6474small -6474Robin

But it took a few moments for me to realize there was something different about the bluebird box…as the garbage truck was coming by, i saw the reason for the ruckus from the residents:

small -6452small -6452snake in the box small -6466small -6466snake in the box

A loop of snake torso bulged out of the formerly safe sanctuary, and after overcoming my shock and dismay, (the anger was not overcome), i got on the stick:

snakesnake in the box

My neighbor, Bob Chatfield, came over and assisted me as we hauled the gopro around to try and get a shot or two of the chicks that made it out alive.  In addition to a furious pair of adult bluebirds, most every other bird within a one block radius of my house was close at hand, gawking at the crime scene, and sharing in a sort of wake for the deceased chicks.

small -6497small -6497Male bluebird with purple ('house') finches For those whose voyeuristic needs must be satisfied, here lies the villain with the two known victims (one internal, one external)  

small -6471small -6471Snake with victims Please don’t take my disdain for what happened as an invitation to lecture me about the roll of reptiles in the ecosystem, or ‘the circle of life.’  I work for a hospice, after all.  Some people like coffee, others hate certain sports teams.  I believe it within my prerogative to detest snakes and wish they didn’t exist.

small -2814small -2814Female bluebird

The evening in my neighborhood—after yet another rain, provided cool, moist air, a brilliant orange-pink glow in the gray clouds at sunset, and very pronounced, reverberant sounds of adult blue birds, calling to their young.  My reading from this morning included the first two chapters from 1st Samuel, which contains poignant reminders of God’s sovereignty.  For those who choose to ponder, there are apparent metaphors here for the taking.  Effects of sin touch all creation.  There will still be bluebirds…and some will still be eaten by snakes, until He determines otherwise. 


thankful He is in charge,


small -2817small -2817Male bluebird bringing home food




Harvey McKinley(non-registered)
Good pictures and interesting nature survival for both the birds and the snake. I guess the snake survived. Harvey
Oh...sad day. I am in agreement with you. Snakes just should not be.
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