Upon accepting my position as horticulturalist at the inn I took on a unique responsibility, bluebird monitoring. This bluebird project has become quite an exciting and educational endeavor I mistakenly assumed would be fairly simple. I have a passion for plants, gardening, and being outdoors and now this new undertaking has opened my eyes to yet another avenue in which I can dedicate my time and effort into conserving and enhancing the greatness of our surroundings.
Yes, I enjoy birds. Their sounds, colors, and movements are a constant lively surround. However, I had never disciplined myself into expanding my bird knowledge past the point of naming the major species (cardinals, woodpeckers, finch, etc.) and filling the feeders when it threatened my allowance as a kid. As I began researching for this task, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information and duties, not to mention I had less than a month to get ready for the nesting season! I hurriedly familiarized myself with the basics: printing charts, loaning library books, making lists. I’m on a constant search for more books, websites, and information that can help me provide the best conditions for our bluebirds. It’s a learning process not only for me, but also for researchers and experienced bluebirders who continually look to offer the best of nesting conditions and assure the bluebird population stays strong.
So why the bluebird trail? At one time, the bluebird was the most common songbird in rural Ohio territory. Population took a devastating hit due to the importation of aggressive European starlings and House Sparrows, heavy chemical use in the agriculture industry, and loss of open farm fields and natural nesting sites due to urbanization. These trails serve to provide bluebirds with protected nesting cavities and are fun for all ages to monitor and enjoy.
There are 20 boxes on our bluebird trail. Beginning in March, I began monitoring twice a week. Early in the month my tasks included cleaning boxes, repairing holes, ensuring proper predator protection, and other general nest box construction maintenance. In late March bluebirds began pairing. My observations and recordings continued as nests were constructed and the first eggs were laid.
The feeling of seeing the first few eggs in nest‐box #5 this season overwhelmed me with pride and joy.
As the weeks have passed, many of the nestlings are on the brink of fledging (leaving the box). I no longer open the boxes for their own safety, but monitor from a distance to ensure parents are still coming with food. This little one was eagerly waiting!
My journey as a bluebirder is teaching me much about diligence and attentiveness. Though not as simple as a task as I had originally assumed, the work is so worth the reward. I look forward to many more successful fledges and the opportunity for these captivating bluebirds to call the Inn their home.
“I don’t ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or the rising of the sun on a misty morning. There they are, and they are beautiful.”