22 March 2016
As regular readers of this blog will know we have been installing nest boxes at SpruceHaven in an attempt to help cavity nesting species which often have difficulty finding nest sites.
Eastern Bluebirds Sialia sialis are not only very appealing birds, they are also subject to intense competition from introduced species such as House Sparrow Passer domesticus and Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris. They really do need help from their human friends.
When I mentioned the idea of starting a bluebird trail to Dave, Sandy and Jamie, the proposal was greeted with great enthusiasm, and we determined to start with six boxes. We will be vigilant in keeping the House Sparrows out of these boxes, but we will be quite happy if Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor grace us with their families in a couple of them.
John Lichty, ever willing to help, came out with his usual reservoir of enthusiasm and resourcefulness and the task began. Sandy and Jamie were there to help carry the requisite poles and boxes to their appointed spots.
Before long the first pole was pounded into the ground.
John drilled the holes into the boxes, carefully lining them up with the holes in the poles.
The boxes were then mounted on the poles.
Conventional wisdom has it that the boxes are best mounted in tandem; often one side is then occupied by bluebirds, the opposing side by swallows.
John and Jamie quickly formed a working alliance and everything proceeded smoothly and quickly.
Jamie was adept at using the post pounder to drive the poles into the ground. We first pounded snow fence posts into the earth, then the aluminum mounting pole was driven in over the top of it. The snow fence pole thus stabilizes the mounting pole and holds it in place.
Here is the line of six boxes, all equidistant from each other and as straight as we could get them. Sandy was reluctant to let us get away with even a minor deviation from centre.
John and Jamie seem to be congratulating each other on a job well done.
Both Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows will be returning over the next two to three weeks and we will be anxiously checking our boxes to see whether we have been successful.
As always, kudos to Dave, Sandy and Jamie for their commitment to wildlife, their stewardship of the land and the vision they have for a harmonious relationship with all the organisms with whom we share this planet.