Wilson Post Blogs
Our Feathered Friends - March 21
By RAY POPE
With spring fast approaching, I finally got a Bluebird house put up at Judd Sellars' Funeral Home. While there, a song greeted me from on high. It was my first Purple Martins on the new year and I'm sure they will start filtering in all over Wilson County. I'm still waiting on my Martin house to have it's first occupants. Martins can sometimes find themselves in dire straits if while nesting has begun, extreme cold weather comes, which can stop the bug world in their tracks. Since they only partake of flying insects, its a possibility the newly hatched young might find themselves starving.
Walking back home from my Bluebird construction project I noticed hundreds of holes and tunnels all over the hugh field that backs up to my property. Field Mice or Voles were underground at the time, probably numbering in the thousands, but it had never crossed my mind till now. There are a few American Kestrals found in the neighborhood constantly on the wing, hovering and watching, and finally eating. Most of the time you will see them sitting on powerlines all over the county. Just a few weeks ago, Karen Franklin wrote about this special bird. This field is seldom used for anything except for hay. This would also make a good home for our snake species. When winter arrives these these Field Mice somehow make their way into our home. Try setting a mousetrap with only one functioning hand, makes your fingers ache even more.
People setting out homes for Bluebirds should take a few precautions for the safety of their families. Place the birdhouse on a pole or t-post where there is clear open sky above the house and you can place out several boxes in different areas. The Bluebirds will nest in one box and guard the others. You might get lucky and get Tree Swallows in the others, look for feathers, a sure sign of Swallows. Once you have a family of Bluebirds on a nest, a good idea would be to place a squirrel baffel about a foot below the nesting box. This will also keep snakes from getting to the babies. My former neighbor, Al Ashworth lost a clutch of baby Bluebirds to a snake several years ago. Snakes can test the air with their tongue to determine when there are live birds in the box. Once a pair of birds lose their family to a snake, the same pair will not use the nesting box again.
There is usually three broods reared by our Bluebird here in Wilson County. Care should be taken when we clean out the old nest. If we leave the old nest in, they will build on top of it and soon place the babies too close to the entrance. I have seen other birds take young from the nest, mostly Starlings and Bluejays.
Last October I had a run in with a nasty bacterial infection called Psittacosis which almost took my life. I couldn't even breathe on my own and had to be on life support. Two whole weeks of my life, I was in a coma at the ICU of University Medical Center. This infection was caused by breathing in particles of bird droppings. One should wear a mask when cleaning out your birdhouses, so you don't get in the same shape as I did.
I received a nice letter from my friend Grace Farrar with her trying a new recipe using fine bread crumbs and peanut butter for a bird treat. They were completely ignored for a couple of days. Grace also tried a package of meal worms and mixed them in with the aforementioned treat now containing black-oil sunflower seed. The birds picked out the sunflower seeds and left the worms and peanut butter treat. If you want to have good luck with meal worms, buy the live ones, and you will not be disappointed.