Such an absolutely beautiful March day today, I was in something of a quandary.  Owning a small business, I need to continue making sales calls, listen to my voicemail every hour, and keep in close contract with the office personnel.  But it was such a beautiful day.  What to do?  I decided to compromise.

     I went birding.

     Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Common Snipe were all nice surprises though I did not see Lawton's Scissortail nor Red Slough's Cattle Egrets.

     At the very end of the day's entrepreneurial compromise, I found a couple of Eastern Bluebirds (m/f) working atop a pipe.  The pipe is 7' tall and 5" diameter.  They were quite busy with the female doing the work and the male obviously energetically supervising.  As I watched, they flew off into a tree a few feet away.  Before I could put my binoculars down and head home, I was surprised to see a Carolina Chickadee land atop the said pipe and aggressively begin nest preparation.  The Bluebirds and I watched.  I have no idea what their emotions were but I was intrigued.  Soon the Chickadee disappeared out of sight down inside the pipe.  Immediately, the female Bluebird flew to the pipe and began again working on the nest site while the male fluttered around, as does any male who is "in charge" of something a female is doing.  For three minutes, the female Bluebird worked on the nest, finally resuming her position in the nearby tree, with the male joining her as if his presence was some kind of commendation for her efforts.  A minute later, the Chickadee popped out of the pipe, made a few downward pushes with her beak, and flew off.  The female Bluebird immediately flew back to the pipe, with the male taking his position close by and fluttering around in an obvious attempt to look busy.  The Chickadee flew to the bush where the male was and took a branch close to him while watching? waiting? wondering? as the female Bluebird busily worked away at the unseen nest.

     So, the question.  What's going on here?

     First, maybe they are working on the same nest.  Sounds unreasonable.  It would be like Tom Daschle and the court-appointed-President-until-Democracy-works-again President deciding to build a house together halfway between their seats of power, say, Omaha, NE.  Just can't see it unless each thinks he is building his "own" house while working together on the same house!  But....

     Then why did the Chickadee go down into the pipe and the female Bluebird immediately begin working on the nest while said Chickadee was "in the pipe"?

     Could there be two nests in the pipe? one lower than the other?  If that is the case, then how does the upper nest accommodate access to the lower nest?

     Haven't the slightest.  Credit it to March madness.  Any ideas of what's going on other than what I have offered?  I will continue to monitor the pipe and see what end result is there.  Until then, all speculations are welcome.

     Good birding, friends.

"Strange BedFellows"
March 26, 2002
<< back to homepage
<< to Phil's birding page
<< more EOER stories
The pipe
Edge of the Earth Rd. Journal
(c) Copyrighted by Phil Floyd 2002