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In some cases, you may not know the hatch date of the young, and my need to estimate their age.  This table gives some guidelines.

Day 1

Bright coral-pink skin, eyes sealed, down in sparse tufts.

Day 2-4

Wings, head , spine look bluish due to developing feathers under skin.

Day 5-7

Feather sheaths begin to emerge on wings. Eyes still closed

Day 7

First feathers burst from tips of sheaths, Eyes open as slits. Brooding by female stops.

Day 8-11

Eyes fully open, Feathers continue to burst sheaths.

Day 11-12

Feathers of wing and tail reveal cobalt blue in males, duller gray-blue in females.  Female Eastern Bluebirds show white edging on outer tail feathers.

Day 13

Cut-off date for box checks.  Fully feathered young become increasingly active, and may fledge prematurely if box is opened.

Day 14-22

Fledging and first flight.  Empty nest solid, flattened. Young remain in cover while parents bring food.

Day 28

Fledglings fly strongly, following parents who feed them.

Day 30, on

Fledglings feed unassisted.

Try to keep written records.  Even if you monitor a single box, it is good to keep records and not trust y our memory.  It’s important to know how old the young are to avoid causing premature fledging by opening the box after Day 13.  Styles of record keeping differ, but you’ll want to record the following:


Weather, time


Note inches of material, whether cup is lined, condition after fledging.


Number, whether warm.


Number, age (count hatch day as Day 1)


Type, any measures taken


Number, date of fledging (if known), post fledge sightings.


Presence of adults, competitors, behavioral notes, other observations.

Many trail operators keep a spiral-bound notebook with a page for each box, and refer to the last entry before approaching the box.

Article from Bird Watcher’s Digest

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