Bluebirds remind us that happiness comes in small packages. Nancy Myer Witmer, who is a regular contributor to the Lancaster County Photography Facebook page, agrees with that sentiment, as she loves to “capture” the Eastern Bluebirds that visit her East Hempfield Township property.
Bluebird Questions for Nancy:
Q. How long have the Bluebirds been visiting your property?
A. I’ve had Eastern Bluebirds raise nests of babies on my property twice in the last eight years. Actually, they come and check out the nest every spring, but the very aggressive House Sparrows usually chase them away. I’ve been at war with the House Sparrows forever and haven’t been very successful at keeping them away from the Bluebirds.
Q. Are the Bluebirds year-round visitors?
A. This was the first winter that I’ve seen Bluebirds in my yard. It’s also the first year I’ve put out mealworms – the Bluebirds love mealworms. For our 2021 family Christmas gift exchange, I asked for mealworms as my gift. I know it doesn’t sound very glamorous, but the mealworms brought the Bluebirds and the Bluebirds bring me joy every time I see them.
Q. How large is the flock?
A. I’ve seen 10 to 15 Bluebirds at one time in the yard or in my tree. They don’t get along very well at the feeding dish so they usually eat individually or in small groups. They are interesting to watch. They patiently wait on each other until the feeder is vacant and then the next one flies to the dish and eats.
Q. Do other birds visit your property?
A. When I have bird seed or suet cakes out, I have lots of other birds visit. Cardinals show up but they don’t like my camera; I have a difficult time getting photos of them. I also have Woodpeckers, Finches of all varieties, Carolina Wrens, Dark-eyed Juncos and the ever-pesky House Sparrows. In February, Robins showed up; they discovered my mealworms and have been chowing down on them along with the Bluebirds.
Q. What’s your strategy for photographing the Bluebirds? How close do you get? Are they accustomed to seeing you?
A. The Bluebird house is about 25 feet from my home office window. When they are nesting in the summer, I keep an eye on them and take photos while I’m doing bookkeeping for our small family business. Their feeding dish is on my deck railing and I can watch them and take photos from my living room. The Bluebirds aren’t tame but they don’t seem to be afraid of me.
I’ve changed out their feeding dishes to add some variety to my photos. They cooperate and eat from any dish or cup that I set out as long as it’s filled with mealworms.
What type of camera/lens do you use?
A. My camera is a Canon SX60 with an incredible zoom lens.