“The birds richly repay you for the trouble you take in attracting them and looking out for their interests.”

– Joseph H. Dodson, Your Bird Friends and How to Win Them, 1928


Here we go!  The WHBBT is ready for action!   Stovepipe guards are reinforced.  I have finished prep for all trail boxes to deter wasps, removed winterizing/roosting material, have cleaned the boxes, trimmed tall grasses and thorns near the base of the poles and — guess what — saw and heard the bluebird males out and about and telling me they know I am there.  While all this is going on, I am hearing them singing loudly and watching me work from the tree branches and nearby fence lines.  It gave me such a good feeling knowing they were around—it gave me such comfort.  It’s as if they were thanking me for helping them get their nesting site ready just for them!

On my next trail visit, which will be during the last week in March, I’ll be taking new photographs of my tweaked trail—a few boxes have been moved to new locations.  This will be updated on The Nestboxes tabbed page shortly.  While there, I’ll open the boxes looking for new nesting material.  I always note this on my new trail notes–my first notes of the season.  I look at the date, if the nest is completed, and what material the nesters used—soft grasses or pine needles.  It will depend on habitat near their nestbox of choice!  On my trail, if pine needles are nearby, those are their choice #1 if they can get them!

Of course, I check for species nesting.  It will either be the Eastern Bluebird, the Carolina Chickadee, the House Wren, or in one location (the “two-hole” test box near town), possibly a House Sparrow (HOSP).  That nest will be removed!  Today, I removed another HOSP nest from that box.  I saw the HOSP fly out of the box—the female.  I also noted bluebirds in the trees above, watching me, and singing their hearts out.  I can only hope the bluebird will try to win over that box on my next check.   It probably will be a battle for it this week.  I will know next week on my next stop at that location.  During 2009 and 2010, back-to-back years, the first egg laid on the WHBBT was the exact same date—April 8.  I wonder what will happen this year?  Seeing the first egg laid every year is my most exciting moment of all on my bluebird trail.  To me, it represents renewal and hope.   I feel so light and airy, as if I could fly myself.   Corny–yes–inspiring–oh YES!

I am working on my next presentation to the Patrick County 4-H Club teens at the PCHS.  This is a collaborative-effort with Primland Resort’s Golf Superintendent.   Primland, with my guidance, has commenced a small trail for this season on their grounds somewhat off the golf course using Virginia Bluebird Society’s nestbox plans and TWO predator guards—the stovepipe ground guard which hangs below the nestbox and the Noel hardware cloth guard over the entry hole.  I have seen them—they look terrific!  The trail will be monitored weekly and statistics forwarded to me at the end of the nesting season for coordination for the VBS state records (and for NABS).  This is such good news to get more monitors for bluebirds!  I’m looking forward to training Primland and the local 4-H teens–learning about proper protocol of monitoring bluebird nestboxes at Primland’s new trail sometime in the next month or two while there are baby birds growing inside the boxes.  Primland is working hard to create nature events and programs there for the 4-H teens.  There will be a live walk to the boxes as I show them “demonstration style” how fun it is to see our native cavity-nesting birds use the nestboxes to bring their young into the world through the nesting cycle.   I send out my thanks to Primland for their outstanding efforts for Eastern Bluebird conservation in their gorgeous habitat!  Good job!  Thank you for helping bluebirds!

For more information on this beautiful resort, here is their website:   http://primland.com/experience/land/

Happy Bluebirding, everyone!

While the female rests on the roof, the male is removing the fecal sac to help keep their young's nesting material clean. This couple seems to enjoy the Noel hardware cloth guard here over the entry hole. They use it as a "porch", rest inside while they guard their box. The Ron Kingston design stovepipe guard below the box is 7-8" wide, wobbles, and deters most ground predators from climbing to the babies and causing them harm. It is very effective on my trail from most Black Rat Snakes--indeed the expert climber of the snakes here! (Photo by Christine Boran on the WHBBT, 2010)

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