Monday, February 22, 2010

Bluebirds

On Monday I attended the monthly meeting of the Montgomery County Master Gardener Association. The speaker was one of our members, Mrs. Linda Crum. Linda is an organic gardener, composting wizard, and lover and protector of bluebirds. She gave an informative and entertaining talk and showed some beautiful photographs. She is an officer in the Texas Bluebird Society, of which I am a member. The illustrations on this page are collages that I made in 2009 and 2010 to donate to the TBS silent auction.

Bluebirds are members of the thrush family, as are robins. There are three types of bluebirds -- eastern, western, and mountain bluebirds. Here in our part of East Texas we have eastern bluebirds. Bluebirds are beautiful birds, and their numbers are declining because of lost habitats. They are secondary cavity dwellers, meaning they nest in holes made by other species, such as woodpeckers. Their little beaks are not strong enough to peck out a nesting hole. Because we now cut down most dead trees, and use materials other than wooden posts to build fences, it becomes harder and harder for bluebirds to find a suitable nesting spot. They are also frequently the victims of a variety of predators, including hawks, cats, snakes, and even other birds such as house sparrows. They also fall prey to weather, especially severe weather in the spring. The little darlings need our help!

Many bluebird lovers put up special birdhouses called nestboxes to entice bluebirds to their yards. These houses can be built at home or purchased, but have very exact specifications as to size, shape, ventilation, drainage, etc. as well as how and where to mount the box, all of which should be researched before building or purchasing. The different bluebird societies are excellent sources for house plans or nestboxes. We have three nestboxes on our property, and now is the time of year when we start seeing bluebirds. Last weekend I saw a male sitting on the roof of one nestbox that we have out in a field, and I'm hoping that Mrs. Bluebird will approve the house and start making a nest. We had our only successful fledging there last year. In the past I've seen bluebirds around our second house, but we had a sad event there two years ago (rat snake!) and last year chickadees moved in. That's OK -- I like them too. Our third house has never been inhabited; I think the area around it isn't open enough. It's where I would prefer bluebirds to nest -- it's fairly close to the house and I could watch them from the porch. Apparently they don't have my wishes in mind when they pick a location!

If you are interested in helping bluebirds, you should contact your local state bluebird society, or the North American Bluebird Society. They have a wealth of resources to share, and bluebird people are nice people!




2 comments:

paula said...

these collages look like antiques! very cool cynthia!

Cynthia said...

Thanks Paula! They are made of a variety of things, including vintage greeting cards, so it's not surprising they look old! thanks for your comment -- always appreciated! ;-D