Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 8, 2013

Elmwood Township Bluebirds: 'This is Our House'

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Anton and Judith Trubiroha have enjoyed a beautiful outdoor setting at their Elmwood Township home for the last 35 years, but they’ve never witnessed anything like thsi spring’s backyard goings-on.

The Trubirohas are dealing with the most aggressive pair of bluebirds they’ve ever seen.

“It starts at about 6 or 7 in the morning,” Judith Trubiroha said. “They come sit on the window of our bedroom, and they start pecking.”

The pecking by the male and female bluebirds doesn’t stop, Judith said, until she gets out of bed.

“They wake me up in the morning and won’t let me sleep,” Judith said. “This morning I was really tired out, I really needed my sleep, and I could not sleep. They just kept fluttering and pecking at the window.”

The Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah hijinks don’t stop there, though.

The Trubirohas said the bluebirds are so aggressive the couple must tread cautiously whenever they park their vehicles in front of their home. Without fail, the two bluebirds swoop in for a visit, then perch on vehicle mirrors and rooftops as if to send a message: ‘this is our house, not yours.’

“If you leave your car out, they’ll do it all day long,” Anton said.

The birds’ behavior had visitors to the couple’s recent yard sale all atwitter. Bargain hunters pulled into the Trubirohas’ driveway to check out their used goods, only to find themselves literally face-to-face with a bluebird.

“Every one of them got right up close,” Judith said. “Twenty-some cars ... 20-some different times.”

“The birds had a good time,” Anton joked.

Sure enough, the bluebirds immediately greeted a Record-Eagle reporter who stopped by the Trubiroha residence on Thursday.

Their behavior leaves the Trubirohas and others to wonder if the birds are angry, down in the dumps, or just in search of some sort of medical tweetment.

None of the above, said national bluebird expert John Rogers of Central New York.

“It sounds to me like these birds are seeing the reflections in the mirrors and the window, and they are seeing possible competitors into their territory,” said Rogers. “These birds are very territorial. They’ll defend their territory of up to several acres.”

Rogers said Eastern bluebirds, like the ones at the Trubiroha home, are fascinating creatures that once saw a dramatic population decline because of human contact. But now they’re making a big comeback, in part because of human proximity. Folks like the Trubirohas set up backyard birdhouses to attract insect-eaters like bluebirds.

There are now an estimated 22 million eastern bluebirds in America, Rogers said.

“We love to think they are our best friends or pets, but we need to view them as wild creatures,” Rogers said. “They do adapt to human presence, no doubt about it, at different levels of ability. Some are much more inclined to associate with humans.”

The Trubirohas suspected there was some natural reason for the birds’ act.

But Judith Rogers also entertained one other possible explanation:

“Maybe they are just wacky,” she said.