Mar 20, 2013 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, Spring 2013

2012—A Great Year for Bird Babies

Three juvenile eastern bluebirds enjoy time spent at the birdbath.

The year 2012 was quite busy for us mainly due to the building of our dream home. Finding time to photograph wildlife seemed to take a back seat to more pressing matters. When able to venture out to our country property, I enjoyed watching many birds build nests and tend to their eggs, nestlings, and fledglings.

At the beginning of spring, we were thrilled to see that a familiar pair of eastern bluebirds set up home in the same nest box they did last year. The beautiful couple were successful with the first brood of five—then, the second crew of five—and a third group of four!

Our resident eastern phoebe pair spent time nesting as well. This rather tame couple decided to build a nest inside the garage of our house (currently in the process of being built). They did not seem to mind the daily din of construction noise and workmen milling about.

Juvenile phoebe perched on the scaffolding with quite a catch.

The eastern phoebe youngsters grew up quickly. Soon it appeared that they were too big for the nest!

I guess it was hard to resist that cozy nest made up of dried grasses, moss and fur from Honey and Bear, our two young akita/husky/shepherd mixes.

After the brood of five fledged, Bruce noticed the adult female phoebe sitting on the nest again. To our delight, five eggs were laid and another group of phoebes were born. Meanwhile, the first crew of juvenile phoebes were often seen hunting for food in the surrounding forest.

Plump insects for the babies.

Many house wrens inhabit our country property too. Two of the seven bluebird nest boxes were occupied by house wren couples. I never did peak inside the bird houses but I know the wren parents were extremely busy tending to the boisterous, hungry youngsters.

The house wren parents were especially attentive to their nestlings, feeding them continuously all day long.

This rather disheveled young male ruby-throated hummingbird guarded his feeder valiantly. Note the existence of pin feathers on his face.

And then there were the hummingbirds! These diminutive, zippy birds were plentiful in 2012. I usually hang 15 hummingbird feeders out on our property during the spring, summer, and fall months. We have so many ruby-throated hummingbirds pining for sugary sips of nectar that it is impossible for us to count all of them.

After the babies are born and leave their nests, there is pandemonium at the feeders. Young hummingbirds can be spotted everywhere, zooming from one feeding station to another.

Ruby-throated hummingbird nestling.

One of the highlights of 2012 was finding a hummingbird nest outside of the garage at our home in Chicago. I followed the flight of an adult female hummingbird after she finished lapping from one of the feeders. She flew to a nearby magnolia tree and seemed to be poking around on a branch for several minutes. I brought out the binoculars to get a closer look and saw a little beak pointing upward from a small nest. Joy!

About Julie A. Gidwitz

Julie has been a nature enthusiast since childhood, forever enchanted and captivated by nature's splendor. With her blog, Julie hopes to share her bird, wildlife, and nature observations through photography and writings. Visit Julie's blog at

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  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021