The war is over. The bluebirds and the phoebes, unlike another bipedal species, have managed to keep things just this side of lethal.
The happy result is that a few days ago the phoebes' baby fledged and disappeared with his parents, whose squeaky-hinge cries now sound a new note of urgency: that big baby hopping around in the underbrush needs round-the-clock feeding, protection from frogs, crows, snakes and foxes, and lessons in self-reliance. Summer is half over, and the parents have eggs to lay and another brood to raise.
In the meantime, the bluebird eggs have hatched, though I can't tell how many. A nestful of newly-hatched baby birds just looks like a mass of heaving protoplasm, and that's what I saw two days ago when I stood on a chair and peered into the nest box. Their parents are on the wing, catching bugs for hours on end. To deliver them, the father bird perches on the entrance to the box and reaches his head in, but the mother goes all the way inside, then turns around and flies out.
In past summers the phoebes have used the same nest to raise their second brood. This time, I don't know whether they'll choose to brave the wrath of the father bluebird and return to the nest on the downspout.
But until then, all is calm, all is bright.