As in previous years around the end of March, the 4H kids from Black Forest and I are planning to do a day of repairing and cleaning the blue bird houses in the Preserve to get them ready for a new season.
During the winter, the 4H group works under the guidance of Frank Puckett in their woodwork shop/class to build these bird houses to specifications published by Donald and Lillian Stokes, authorities on the subject. The bird houses are built with raised metal screen floors to keep parasites at bay, ventilation holes, slats on the inside below the entry hole for the young ones to climb, and small entry holes with predator guards to keep bigger birds from accessing the houses and robbing the brood. Even so, the gentle Blue Birds have to share the houses with Tree Swallows, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Wrens which all seem more aggressive.
Most of the frequent hikers in the Preserve excitedly share the news with each other about the first spotting of the Western Blue Bird. They may not be the swallows of Capistrano, but for the Preserve they are the messengers of spring.
Over the last 15 years that I have monitored the nesting boxes, the “blue bird trail” has grown to over 20 bird houses. It is very enjoyable to have these colorful birds around.