Friday, February 17, 2017

Two Beauties to Start the Bird Count

On the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count, a worldwide happening,  I had no exotic entries -- mostly just the usual mourning doves, chickadees, and Carolina wrens that love my backyard feeder. However, on a morning dog walk around the perimeter of a large community baseball complex, I did spot two beauties that don't often venture to my feeder:  Eastern bluebirds. I have seen them (and no doubt others) before when Elliedawg and I venture to the track around the fields for a change-of-pace walk.

Why do the blues favor the fenced-in sports complex? Well, a check of my bird books gives me the answer. Bluebirds love untoppled dead trees for their nesting cavities. On the far side of the fields is a swampy area with many such trees. So that solves the mystery. My "South Carolina Birds" (Lone Pine Publishing) guide notes that the widespread removal of standing dead trees was a serious threat to the bluebird population; however, the placement of nest boxes on fence posts by bluebird conservationists has helped in gradually increasing the numbers of this gorgeous bird.

It really is a day brightener to see these little fellows with the bright-blue upperparts and chestnut underparts flitting around. For me and Ellie, the bluebirds got our tiny corner of the global bird count off to a great start. It runs through Monday, and you can count for as little as 15 minutes on any day. Go to birdcount.org if you would like further information.

                                                © Robert Gray Holland  2017

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