For the last couple of days they had been sticking their heads way out of the hole, exactly like cuckoos in a clock. I tried take a picture, but every time they saw me come out with my camera they dove back inside, like their parents told them to:
There were five eggs in the clutch and I can see four birds clearly in the photo: three eyes and somebody's back next to the opening. I want to believe that there is a fifth one in that mass of plumage. The nest box faces west, and how they survived those 90F+ afternoons last week I can't imagine.
For a while I was also worried about the parents, who were bringing in bugs and carrying out poop for hours on end in the heat and the downpours. And I was worried about the snake that lives in the flower bed beneath the box and had been waiting patiently for the moment of fledging.
But there was no helpless fluttering on the ground for these babies, who are a grayish brown and larger than I expected. The minute they came out, they flew right across the yard and up into the trees. Now I hear them calling in unison, in a sound that reminds me of sleigh bells, at the edge of the woods.
The successful rearing of this brood vindicates the father bluebird, who's been banging on our window for two straight summers and about whose mental faculties I had developed serious doubts. But summer isn't even half over, and soon the bluebird pair will be starting all over again, courting, laying eggs, brooding, and then feeding, feeding, feeding.
I hope that when fall finally comes they'll take off for some island where they can lie in the sun and listen to the waves and have meals of bugs brought to them on a platter. They deserve a rest.