I bought Deb a few Blue-bird houses for Christmas and in the stark of winter, with cold, rocky ground to contend with,....I dug a hole, placed in a pole....and hung the houses. We awaited for Bluebirds to take root as we could watch them just outside our windows. There were three bluebirds who stayed the winter, two males and one female. During this time they found a home someplace, a few backyards down. They would visit our suets so why not our houses we wondered?
Back in Jan/Feb, activity became apparent on top of the bird houses. Chickadees, robins, cardinals and yes, even the bluebirds would sit on the top of each house. Cool....there were events to come it would appear.
A little over a month ago nature made inroads. Chickadees adopted the houses. Both..... Both houses of congress were now under the influence of Chickadees. The one closest to our window was packed full of nesting material overnight. The second house was stuffed so full of Chickadee nesting material it buldged from the bottom as I forgot to clamp it shut. Chickadees....sweet little guys who would poke their heads out and visit our feeders and then return. A quick shoot 'to and fro'... Although black and white, they have an air of color to them.
Today....just this morning they woke up to a world that changed their life. Catastrophic events ruled their life now..... For the Bluebirds decided to displace them. There were two males and two females vying for the house. One male bluebird would enter and wait for the female who came in with a beak full of new nesting material. Why she was inside, the male bluebird would 'take out' something. Whitish, like a cotton ball. This must be a fecal sac as they clen the nest but the existing young in the nest are chickadees, not bluebirds. So are they taking care of the Chickadees, thinking that they are Bluebirds?
This continued all morning with one of the couples winning out over the other. They defended their new home. The Chickadee...oh the sweet Chickadee would venture back to the house and then poke it's head inside to be immediately prompted to scram. Sometimes the Chickadee would come with a mealworm or some enticing moth to feed the young. But on all occasions, no luck...no entrance, no free pass...just a cruel awakening. So sad to watch. And yet it was only a few months ago that we wanted the Bluebirds in the house but now, in order to have that occur, we must accept the demise of the innocent ones. The ones on the lower end of the pecking order. Mother nature....
After a few hours of this towards mid afternoon, the Chickadee would pop by with something in it's mouth and would enter when no Bluebird was present. Then come out again, empty beaked. The female Bluebird would come by with a spider or the like. Enter the nest and come out empty too. Were both birds feeding the Chickadee young? Not sure. But some activity continued in the nest and both species were upon it. UPDATE (5/28/17) Bluebirds 'out', Chickadees 'in'.
Have you wondered about this pecking order? Who comes first...who is the top bird and how is the lowest. The lowest on the pole who might vie for a 'casa' are the Prothonotary Warblers, followed by the Carolina Wren..... Then the innocent Chickadee. I call them innocent for I remember an article by Peter Dunne upon his retirement that stated how he just wanted to watch the innocent chickadees.
Following the Chickadee is the Nuthatches, then the Titmouse, the Tree Swallow and finally the Bluebird. At times, the Chickadee does 'win' back' their nest, as evident by our recent adventure with them. But moving on the order continues to House Wren, perhaps a woodpecker, house sparrow (this is one bugger of a bird and is one of the worst birds to have at your feeders) and finally the starling. But, it does depend on the size of the hole, or if it is a tree cavity etc. The houses have pretty small holes so some of the latter ones such as a starling might not have a chance. ...
Hopefully, we have witnessed the last of the 'changing of the guards'.... or is that Advanced Guards? Do you recall that song as they looked out the window and saw the tall grass in the winds; just standing there like advanced guards, waiting for the battle to begin.