On Tuesday afternoon, Amy Lockwood’s science class watched in awe as little beaks started breaking through two light blue eggs.
The bluebird babies were finally here.
Earlier this spring, Lockwood installed a bluebird nest box outside Bruton High School in upper York County with a small camera aimed on the nest from above.
Within days, two mating bluebirds arrived.
“We choose that spot and set it up and it wasn’t but a week later and we had bluebirds,” Lockwood said. “We put it up and two bluebirds found it, a male and a female found it, and they started laying eggs.”
Students left for spring break with five eggs piled up. While in class Tuesday afternoon, two eggs started hatching. By Wednesday morning, the other three chicks had emerged and were moving about the nest.
The camera is hooked up to a TV Lockwood pulls out into the hallway each morning, so every passerby can see the action. The screen is black and white and a little blurry, so kids have to stand back to get a full picture. When the mom is sitting on the chicks, she takes up the entire screen.
“It was amazing, they were excited,” Lockwood said. “Kids were asking to come look at the monitor and they were asking questions about what the male is supposed to do, what the female does. They were definitely curious about the birds.”
Now students keep an eye on the chicks, which are covered in a thin fur, yet to grow feathers. They watch the mother sit on them for hours, keeping them warm, and see both parents feed the chicks by regurgitation — digesting an insect or plant into mush and hacking it back up into a chick's mouth.
Junior Isaiah Gist said he missed the hatching. Watching the chicks ever since has been interesting, though he said he isn’t thrilled by their feeding methods.
“I think it’s kind of cool, but mainly disgusting,” Gist said. “It’s one thing to see a video or read a book (about birds' lives), but to actually see it — it’s completely different.”
Lockwood applied for a grant for the nest through the Virginia Bluebird Society, which gives schools the nest box materials, a predator guard and the camera so students can see into the birds’ daily activities.
The Eastern Bluebird calls many open woodlands, farmlands and orchards east of the Rocky Mountains home, according to the Virginia Bluebird Society Website.
Lockwood said the chicks will stay in the nest for about 21 days after hatching.
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.