Not a Bluebird of Happiness

June 09, 2008

Well, today I got an unfortunate example of nature red in tooth and claw, and the effects of an aggressive, invasive species. The painting above was done as a commission. The person that commissioned the piece from me, did so as a gift to his parents. His parents had put out a bluebird nesting box on their property. Bluebird populations had been dwindling for sometime, but this year they were delighted to discover a nest in their box, and it's dedicated parents. That's when this painting was commissioned. I had just shipped off the painting today, when I got an email stating that his parents had noted some House Sparrows trying to get into the nest. They seemed to be successfully staved off for awhile by the bluebirds, but alas, to no avail. They had been out of town, and when they returned, they checked the nest box to find the bluebird chicks pecked to death inside. I had heard of this kind of House Sparrow behavior before, but never quite believed it until now. It's hard not to anthropomorphize such behavior sometimes. I once heard Julie Zickefoose in an NPR interview allude to some of her culling practices for House Sparrows. I was mildly apalled. Even though I know the havoc introduced species like starlings and House Sparrows can wreak on native populations, I don't have it in me to be killing the little buggers with my bare hands, or by any means, for that matter. After today, well...hmmm.


  1. That makes me so sad. My grandpa showed me a bluebird egg when I was little, at his house in northern Calif. As I got older, I realized I never see bluebirds anymore. This just makes it even worse!

  2. Wow, I had no idea that House Sparrows could be so mean. We just had a bluebird hatching in our box about 10 days ago, and I was feeling all protective against snakes. Little did I know what the winged neighbors could do...

  3. Such a beautiful painting! Bluebirds make my Top 500 Birds list easily and it pains me that they (and so many other bird populations) are decreasing.
    We lost a nest full of white-winged dove eggs to some house sparrows this last spring. I watched them pick up the eggs and drop them onto the cement with horrifying efficiency and precision. Pretty birds, but nasty little buggers...


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