Pivot while perching. Hopping develops by age 16 d Krieg Flight height is generally low in open areas, about 10—12 m off ground. Longer flights are higher. Clean remiges and rectrices by drawing them through their bills Krieg Two phases of bathing: 1 individuals lower their heads and breasts into water, while shaking their heads and beating both wings; 2 raise the top half of their bodies out of the water, lower their vents and rumps into the water, spreading their tails and fluttering their wings Krieg Scratch their heads by moving a foot up and over their drooped wing.
Nestlings flap their wings when they stretch and flap them vigorously to arrange flight feathers and to shake off dust from emerging feathers, most often in the final days before fledging. Wipe their bills after a successful capture and ingestion of insect prey and after dropping fecal sacs collected from nestlings. Stretch when their wing is drooped while extending their leg on the same side, after which they then raise and half open both wings behind their body.
Often rest communally on high, protected perches.
In captivity, will rest close to each other, usually about 0. While resting their legs may be fully flexed, with their abdomens touching the perch. Individuals may tuck a foot into their ventral feathers Krieg Young nestlings sleep with their heads drooped or held limply; nestlings 13 d old begin adult sleeping patterns with their heads resting on their scapulars. Adults sleep in nesting cavities or on protected limbs of trees, sometimes communally. Sunbathing includes responses to concentrated light sources. While sunbathing, individuals raise their crests, and direct their body at right angles to and tilted away from the light source.
When sunbathing, their feathers may be ruffled and their wings spread completely so that each primary is exposed, and they may droop the wing feathers, spread their tails, raise their crests, and ruffle their body plumage Krieg There is a notable peak in feeding activity, especially by females, in Sep and Oct. Males spend For detailed, operational descriptions of motor patterns, see Krieg ; for experimental evaluation of functions of breeding-season aggression toward conspecifics, see Gowaty , Gowaty and Wagner , and Gowaty et al. During fights, individuals face each other, grappling with their feet, sometimes falling to the ground.
Against immobile models made of bluebird skins mounted in life-like alert positions, individual bluebirds will land on the back of a model and peck at the head. In supplanting attacks, one bird flies toward another perched individual who vacates its perch. Supplanting attacks are the most frequent form of aggression.
Once individuals make contact, both combatants may strike one another with their wings, grab feathers with beaks, and grapple with their feet at each others' bodies. Individual bluebirds also head-peck during fights. Head pecking appears highly motivated in that it is often done rapidly as if to a staccato rhythm PAG per obs.
Fights are often extended, with combatants falling to the ground, paying no attention to their surroundings.
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Males are more likely than females to attack potential nest-site competitors Belser ; females seem somewhat more willing than males to attack species with similar foraging requirements. Most interspecific aggressive encounters occur during the breeding season. During migration, when Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor pass through southern and middle portions of eastern bluebird breeding ranges, chases and fights break out between Tress Swallows and Bluebirds PAG. On the breeding ground, early in the breeding season, fights are common.
Threat displays include Facing, Gaping, and Wing-Flicking see below. Appeasement displays include Turning-Away and Fluffed Posture. In Turning-Away, eastern bluebirds fluff feathers, then turn their heads away from the opponent opposite-sex members of pair, or combating males. Appeasement displays occur during territorial disputes and agonistic encounters between pair members.
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When in a Fluffed Posture, individuals retract their heads and fluff their feathers. The Fluffed Posture appears similar to resting, and during nesting cycle, either member of pair may assume the posture. In Facing, one individual turns their head to face their opponent. Facing usually occurs when an individual distance is violated. Gaping is like Facing, except that beak is open. During high-intensity Gaping, sleeks head and neck-feathers and leans toward approaching bird.
In Wing-Flicking Wing-Waving , bird is perched in oblique position and flicks both wings rapidly out to a plane that is level with body. May fan tail; display accompanied by Warbles and Chatter see Sounds: vocalizations, above. Gives Wings-Out Display when facing opponent: Legs fully flexed, body horizontal, plumage sleeked, wings out horizontally to side; never given to conspecifics.
Usually followed by Alarm Scream and aerial attack on predator or potential predator. Gives Head-Forward Display while facing opponent: Body horizontal, head retracted, tail slightly lowered, legs flexed, body feathers sleeked; Gaping see above , bill snap see Sounds: nonvocal sounds, above , and Rasp see Sounds: vocalizations, above , often given at same time as Head-Forward Display; this display often precedes supplanting attack. Two bill-raising postures Krieg : In Oblique Bill-Up Display, body is oblique with head, tail in plane with body, tail slightly raised.
In Horizontal Bill-Up Display, legs extended, neck stretched, head and bill pointed upward; black chin-stripes of both sexes are exposed to opponent's view. Most frequently, males are aggressive to males; females are aggressive to females. Both adults can be aggressive to juveniles of either sex. Instances of male-to-female and female-to-male aggression also occur, but rarer than intrasexual aggression.
In a comparative study during , male aggression to females was distinctly more frequent in Athens, GA populations than Clemson, S. Carolina populations Gowaty, unpubl data , perhaps because during females fertile period, females were foraging off territory more often in Athens, GA than in Clemson, SC.
The differences may have been due to differences in arthropod abundance with greater availability in Clemson, S. Experimental evaluations Gowaty indicate male-male aggression most likely serves to protect threatened paternity, because male-to-male aggression is greatest when females are fertile, whether for first or later nesting attempts. Males are aggressive to other adult males usually in defense of paternity; resident males are most likely to respond aggressively to other males when females are fertile Gowaty Experimental studies have shown that male-to-female aggression occurs infrequently in some populations but not at all in others Gowaty , Gowaty and Wagner Male to female aggression is facultative occurring during the breeding season as an optional aspect of pair formation and initiation of breeding cycles.
For example, in a systematic observational study controlling for time within the nesting cycle and year of observation and methods, rates of male-to-female aggression were significantly higher in Athens, GA, than in Clemson, SC PAG unpubl. In experimental field tests in Clemson, SC, male aggression against females was infrequent Gowaty , Gowaty and Wagner In Pennsylvania, males chased females most during pair formation Krieg , but actually attacked females most during nest-building, when males may have been attempting to condition females' ranging behavior or perhaps even attempting to dissuade them from recruiting to the cavities the aggressive males were defending.
Females are also sometimes aggressive to males. Experiments revealed that aggression of adult bluebirds to same-sex conspecifics is situation dependent. Aggression is induced and modulated by the time-dependent threat a particular conspecific. Experiments indicate female-female aggression protects nests from conspecific nest parasitism Gowaty and Wagner and, in S.
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Carolina was unlikely to occur in contexts in which paternal contributions to parental care were threatened by interloper females Gowaty and Wagner Earliest report Pettingill indicates that an intruder female won a fight with an already-crippled resident female, took over nest cavity, and bred with resident male. In New York in a systematic observational study during breeding season, 1 female was supplanted another 41 times within 1 h Krieg Severe wounding, maiming, or death of females as a result of female-female fights noted in many populations Nice , Pettingill , Laskey , Blake , Gowaty and Wagner and personally observed PAG.
Anecdotal records suggest that after having over-wintered with fathers with little or no agonism, yearling males are aggressively repelled from breeding territories of fathers and their mates in subsequent breeding season Pinkowski e. Females are aggressive to juveniles usually when they are feeding nestlings in earlier broods; rarely occurs during latest broods PAG, JHP unpubl.
Sometimes on wintering grounds 1 or other sex is excluded from access to food or roosting sites by aggressive postures, calls, or motor acts of others. Experimental evaluations of variation in aggression in breeding territories during winter are consistent with year-round defense of nesting cavities Plissner and Gowaty Juvenile-juvenile aggression, usually chases and supplants, rarely between siblings, usually between juveniles of different ages, may function in establishment of dominance hierarchies in nonbreeding season flocks Plissner Once it came up and you could see the extent of the damage, I just knew it had to be restored , which is what is happening now.
I think I will feel only relief once that has finally happened and I see Bluebird back on the water again. Erin Baker. Chris Knapman.
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