Blue bird of happiness

Published 11:41 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I have always had a complex appreciation for our feathered friends. My awareness of the avian community started as a young child when during a stay at my grandparent’s home. I was told that when I misbehaved a “little bird” would inform my grandmother of my behavior.

This well-intended statement sparked a flame of curiosity inside me to find out who exactly this little bird was. Was it a boy or girl? What did it look like? Did it have a name? Where did it come from? The questions were many and often deferred or redirected to my grandfather. From that point forward, I became keenly aware of birds.

My fascination with birds has stayed with me through the years. My respect and admiration of them growing with every new genus I encountered. I especially delight in the more colorful and quirky ones.

The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) has been a particular favorite for the past five years, since relocating to Virginia. I was astounded at how prolific they are and enjoy observing their daily antics in the gardens and yard.

In addition to their stunning beauty, they have always exhibited a gentle friendliness and somewhat playful nature. They just seemed to be happy all of the time in whatever their particular activity happened to be.

Even when I would occasionally venture a bit too close to the bird house on the climbing rose arbor that they would be nesting in, they would chirp wildly while swooping above my head to inform me that I had violated their space — always with a seemingly joyful undertone.

Recently something has gone seriously amiss in my little bluebird community. To my horror they have decided that it is “open season” on all motor vehicles that travel down the drive and park for a spell. They waste no time apprehending the perceived vehicular intruder and aggressively proceed to peck at the mirrors, windows and tires.

I know that they are territorial creatures and are adversaries with the wrens, sparrows and crows. They nest between the months of March and August and can have up to three broods per season. So my first inclination was that this disturbing behavior was due to them protecting their nests. I am not aware of anything in their environment that has changed that might cause a spike in the territorial aggressiveness. No additional nesting boxes have been placed and I have not noticed and influx in the adversarial bird communities, so my intuition is questioning my initial reasoning on the matter. I am perplexed and long for my “happy” little bluebirds to return.

If you might know or have any thoughts on why these once sweet creatures have suddenly turned into “angry” birds please share with me.

Dawn Conrad is a columnist for The K-V Dispatch. She can be reached at or