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CHRISTY'S BLUEBIRD PROJECT

PUB PG 2

Continuing to Spread the Word - Bluebird!

More articles which were written by Christy for Myakka Livin' Magazine, or newspaper articles written about our Project.

WHERE, WHEN, AND WHO,

WILL HAVE THE FIRST LAID BLUEBIRD EGG OF 2004!

JANUARY 2004

One month from now we could hear that our first Bluebird egg has been laid. Remember that last year the first laid egg of 2003, for the whole United States, was laid just north of Hunsader Farms. You too can be part of this expected bit of excitement. The Bluebirds first breeding season will start in our area the middle of February to middle of April, with March being the most active time. This will be the time when most of our new baby Bluebirds will fledge.

By now you should have your boxes, which should have been up cleaned, and any fixing done. Also always work on any Red Ants in the area, the birds main predator. Starting in February, if you have had a problem with frogs in your boxes, you may want to early in the mornings get them out of your birdhouses. This could give the birds a chance to go into any box and not be bothered. Once a pair is using a box they will handle the frogs. (Cuban Tree frogs have no predators and are known to eat eggs and fledglings.now that is one Bad Frog!)

Keep you eyes open for spotting of Bluebirds around your property. Many Monitors get addicted to looking, and the addiction grows if they actually see them going in and out of the birdhouses. If you do not see the Bluebirds do not feel bad, you also want to keep your ears tuned for listening for them. They have a very distinctive sound and it is loud and clear. Many pictures of Bluebirds have them found at the very tippy-top of a tree singing out. You can hear what they sound like on the Internet. Use a Search Engine for: Bluebird call sound

Once you do spot a pair, you should look for a few of their mating habits. The male will go in and out of boxes trying to get the female to follow, which she might. The female is the one who picks the box and as Sherry Miller, our M 10 trail Monitor can tell you, the female can be very picky. Sherry had different pairs going in and out of her boxes for weeks, but they never did choose one to stay in. The birds put in a lot of work looking, and so did Sherry running out to look for claim staws, but she does have a large population of Cuban Tree Frogs in her boxes now!

While the pair is looking at boxes, the male will go to wires or a high tree and sing to impress the female. They also have a different type of sound, which I hear is like a chortle or bubbly chatter back and forth as they talk to each other. The male will also when standing, lift and wave his wings, first one then the other. Waving the bright blue wings is a way to get attention. That is why we also put a tie of blue plastic under the boxes. A Bluebird might think that blue plastic or ribbon, which waves with the wind, is another Bluebird and come to investigate.

The female will do most of the nest building, but they both get involved. If the box is to be used right away they will start a nest, and if in a hurry could finish in a few hours or work on it for a week. Above I mentioned a claim straw, which is a long piece of straw left in the box. The claim straw is thought to be a type of reservation and is saying that box is going to be used by a pair. They then could lay eggs right away or start laying in over a week.

The end of the second week of February is a good time to check for the first eggs being laid. One to six eggs could be laid with 4-5 being normal. The female is the only one who can sit on the eggs which takes 14 days to hatching, and then 18 days to fledging or flying out of the nest. Then the pair may wait two weeks or three days and they start all over again. They can mate up to four times a year with three nesting being very good and two times is normal. Whew!

There, now you know most of what you need to know about Bluebird breeding. Monitoring is just as easy to learn and do. Come and join in the fun of getting a little closer to nature and helping your birds have a successful breeding season. Give me a call or e-mail if you have any questions. Let us again find the first laid egg for the US this year. I need your help to report what you find in your boxes. To be part of the Christys Bluebird Project, I would like you to have 5 boxes, which would become a numbered Bluebird Trail. This year if you have fewer boxes and you will also faithfully report weekly what is in your boxes you too can join. Your only cost is a little time for the health of your birds, and the information will help Cornell University with their continuing gathering of box information from all over the United States. So far this year they have had over 7300 box reports sent to them. We report any type of bird found in our boxes.

If you would like a Trail, I make at no profit 5 boxes, 5 poles, and 3 predator guards for a cost of $75.00. For that special offer all I ask is that you faithfully Monitor your boxes weekly and report by e-mail or phone what you find. Remember to .THINK BLUEBIRD!

Call: 355-5265 E-mail: ke4fej1@email.msn.com Web Site: http://ke4fej1.tripod.com

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Time for the First Breeding Season to Begin!

FEBRUARY 2004

Within days somewhere a Bluebird in our area will start building a nest, and laying eggs. Could your property have the First Egg Laid in the United States for 2004? Wouldnt that be a wonderful memory. Again, are your birdhouses cleaned out and ready for tenants? Do be a part of this free fun, and also give a bit of help to nature. Our project now has 43 Bluebird Trails and 268 boxes, which should all be ready for the start to the season. We have added a few more Trails on Verna Bethany Rd., and our latest ones in The Panther Preserve and on Saddlebag Creek Trail. We also have added a Bluebird Trail in DeSoto County, which is our 6th county.

Trail Monitors have been contacting me getting ready for the season. Maria and Horst in Hardee County have added five more boxes to their Trail. They are trying the new National Geographic box, which is being sold at Lowes. I have not seen it, but have heard it has an additional sliding side which has a plastic piece, which lets you see the babies without opening the door. Plus, many new Bluebird Trail Monitors have been building their own boxes. It is fun to try different styles of boxes. If you have Bluebirds in your area, and they need a nesting site, the Bluebirds probably will not be too picky. Nesting boxes can be of a design the Bluebirds dont like. Give them, for our heat, a bit more room than 4" x 4" bottoms, and more ventilation at the top, and make sure there is good drainage in the bottom, and a 2 to 3 inch overhang in the front, which helps make shade from the sun.

Our very first Trail M 1 or Manatee County Trail one, told me she through the fall and winter she has been looking into her boxes. She does have some boxes which hang on a tree and on fence posts, one box seemed to be a bit heavier when she went to check.. She got all excited. But, when she looked to her surprise there was a Rattlesnake curled up inside the box! She then told me that is was probably only a foot and a half long. What I wanted to know is how did she get it uncurled to know? Yes, finding a snake in your box could happen. This is the nature of the land you live on. I do have to say this is only the fourth story I have heard of this happening in over two years, and I listen to people from all over the country. I would suggest that when you check your boxes that you do not immediately stick your face up to your box. Open slowly and lift up the door standing back and to the side. What you may find more often are Wasps and Hornets, you also do not want them flying right out at you. I have had a frog leap onto my face: I was not checking boxes at the time. All the same, I would hope you never know what it is like to rip a frog off the middle of your face, that happening alone was a heart stopper. If you ever do find a snake in your box, I would suggest to let go of the door and move a good distance away from the box. Let the snake go on its own way.

Remember it is never too late to put up a Bluebird house. Last year most of our 185 boxes were put up toward the end of the second breeding season. Only 25 of those boxes were used, and with most being used in the first breeding. Do come and join our group of Monitors and take the time to learn how to care for your birds. There is no cost to letting me know what you find in your boxes, just a weekly call or e-mail. Any information I have is yours for the asking. Out of our 43 Bluebird Trails I have visited all but about five. I have truly enjoyed meeting all of my Trail Monitors, and visiting their property. For every e-mail which is sent I usually send one back. What I do find that is sad, is that due to new Trails being added weekly and materials to buy and boxes to build, I have only had the luxury to go back to visit about three Trails. We are a Project Group, but what many of you probably like is that their are no meetings, no dues, no contact with other Trail Monitors. A Bluebird Trail is about you and the birds found on your property. I only e-mail if I do not receive your reports, and I will only e-mail when I think you would like to know a special bit of information. I do not want to be a bother.

Contact me at anytime. I am not an expert, but I will help you all I can and as long as it takes you to help you and your birds. Anyone can join our Bluebird Project, and if you have five boxes I will assign you a Trail number if you promise to report weekly. I do have Trail setups 5 boxes, 5 poles and 3 predator guards for $75.00, or we can talk about other boxes you might use. Give me a call at 355-5265, or e-mail ke4fej1@email.msn.com and do look at our web site http://ke4fej1.tripod.com/     

THINK BLUEBIRD!

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ONE BLUEBIRD YEAR LATER . . . by Christy Packard

April 2004

It has been one year from March 15 which was our First years Official Reporting date. We started last year with 99 boxes to check. This year we started with 350 boxes, which represented 51 Bluebird Trails. Some Bluebird Trails have 5 to 20 boxes in them. We also have a few individual boxes being reported. There are also 10 boxes which were built by Judy Andersons home schooled young people, which are also 4-H members. The youth installed their boxes on the new Audubon property in Parrish. Two of those young people also entered in the Manatee County Fair their Bluebird Posters, which is one of required projects in the 4-H Bluebird Booklet that I wrote. They are first in the country to follow these instructions. Great Job!

Another first and 5 more boxes, is Ian, a 10 year old 4-H member of the Stock 4-H Club. He put his completed Bluebird Trail up, and within a couple of days reported the start of a nest. He is the first 4-H member to report completing setting up his project box, pole, and predator guard. By doing so he received the very first 4-H box number to be issued 4-H 9 41 1-5 in connection with the 4-H Bluebird Project Booklet. Congratulations Ian for this great beginning! At the moment I know of 2 other 4-H boxes just about to be put up and there should be 20 or more boxes once the other 4-H youth have set theirs in the ground.

I have Bluebird Trails to be delivered to the Pomello Ranch area, State Road 70, and on 675 for another 15 boxes. You can see that makes around 400 boxes that the Bluebirds now have to use with over 300 being in the East Manatee area. We have four times the boxes we had last year, thanks to the many new Trail and Zip Code Monitors, and the 4-H and Audubon!

We had a surprise of a new first found egg date being reported, when the Monitored eggs turned the next day into baby Bluebirds! M 35 Todd Davis had four babies, and the first egg should have been laid on February 15th. M 7 Jenny in Panther Ridge had four eggs which were to have hatched March 7th. One baby started to come out of its shell but, the next day was found dead, and the other eggs did not hatch. This could have been caused by the small cold spell we had the week before. M 4 on 675 eggs were laid at the same time as M 7s but we do not know at this time if they did survive the cold spell.

As of March 14, with most of the 51 Bluebird Trails reporting in, almost half have some type of Bluebird activity. We have over 60 Bluebird Eggs found in over 34 nests, and a total of over 47 nests involved. We also have one House Wren nest. People are helping cavity nesting birds, by putting up nesting boxes and Monitoring. Look at the numbers grow. Over a year ago most of us never saw a Bluebird and now reports are coming in from all over our area.

Win a Bluebird House! This Contest starts when you receive the magazine and closes on April 15th. You have two items to guess - 1. How many Bluebird eggs will we have this season? 2. How many Bluebirds will we fledge? To enter you can send an e-mail with the word CONTEST in the subject and then put your name, phone number and your two best guessed numbers within the body. If you do not have e-mail you can call 355-5265 and leave a message. Only One entry per household please. The best guess of both questions will win someone one of our Bluebird boxes. Entries are for Myakka City area and other Monitors only. (Note: If you win you do not have to become part of our Project and report, unless you want to.)

More planning is going into our Bat Tube project. Billie Sunday is working away at his Bat Tube design, which is an 8" PVC pipe with 3 chambers inside. At this time we have our first one installed, and many of our Monitors have shown interest in putting them up. Florida has 17 different types of Bats, and they need our help to grow in numbers. Bats are very beneficial in eating crops pesky bugs, mosquitoes, pollination and reseeding lands.

We are also have plans to expand our Project to also include a study of the Cuban Tree Frog, which is a major predator and threat to all bird eggs and the babies.

We had a wonderful year last year, but this year is starting out fantastic! We are going to have lots of Bluebirds, helping the Bats, and hopefully finding more information on the Cuban Tree Frogs. This is all just too much fun! Come and join in our Project anyway you would like. I will find a place for you. If you would like a Bluebird Trail or Boxes do get in contact with me at 355-5265 or e-mail ke4fej1@email.msn.com Let us see what we can do for you, so you too can enjoy nature a bit more! Take a LOOK at our Web Site: http://ke4fej1.tripod.com/ where you

ONE BLUEBIRD YEAR LATER . . . by Christy Packard

It has been one year from March 15 which was our First years Official Reporting date. We started last year with 99 boxes to check. This year we started with 350 boxes, which represented 51 Bluebird Trails. Some Bluebird Trails have 5 to 20 boxes in them. We also have a few individual boxes being reported. There are also 10 boxes which were built by Judy Andersons home schooled young people, which are also 4-H members. The youth installed their boxes on the new Audubon property in Parrish. Two of those young people also entered in the Manatee County Fair their Bluebird Posters, which is one of required projects in the 4-H Bluebird Booklet that I wrote. They are first in the country to follow these instructions. Great Job!

Another first and 5 more boxes, is Ian, a 10 year old 4-H member of the Stock 4-H Club. He put his completed Bluebird Trail up, and within a couple of days reported the start of a nest. He is the first 4-H member to report completing setting up his project box, pole, and predator guard. By doing so he received the very first 4-H box number to be issued 4-H 9 41 1-5 in connection with the 4-H Bluebird Project Booklet. Congratulations Ian for this great beginning! At the moment I know of 2 other 4-H boxes just about to be put up and there should be 20 or more boxes once the other 4-H youth have set theirs in the ground.

I have Bluebird Trails to be delivered to the Pomello Ranch area, State Road 70, and on 675 for another 15 boxes. You can see that makes around 400 boxes that the Bluebirds now have to use with over 300 being in the East Manatee area. We have four times the boxes we had last year, thanks to the many new Trail and Zip Code Monitors, and the 4-H and Audubon!

We had a surprise of a new first found egg date being reported, when the Monitored eggs turned the next day into baby Bluebirds! M 35 Todd Davis had four babies, and the first egg should have been laid on February 15th. M 7 Jenny in Panther Ridge had four eggs which were to have hatched March 7th. One baby started to come out of its shell but, the next day was found dead, and the other eggs did not hatch. This could have been caused by the small cold spell we had the week before. M 4 on 675 eggs were laid at the same time as M 7s but we do not know at this time if they did survive the cold spell.

As of March 14, with most of the 51 Bluebird Trails reporting in, almost half have some type of Bluebird activity. We have over 60 Bluebird Eggs found in over 34 nests, and a total of over 47 nests involved. We also have one House Wren nest. People are helping cavity nesting birds, by putting up nesting boxes and Monitoring. Look at the numbers grow. Over a year ago most of us never saw a Bluebird and now reports are coming in from all over our area.

Win a Bluebird House! This Contest starts when you receive the magazine and closes on April 15th. You have two items to guess - 1. How many Bluebird eggs will we have this season? 2. How many Bluebirds will we fledge? To enter you can send an e-mail with the word CONTEST in the subject and then put your name, phone number and your two best guessed numbers within the body. If you do not have e-mail you can call 355-5265 and leave a message. Only One entry per household please. The best guess of both questions will win someone one of our Bluebird boxes. Entries are for Myakka City area and other Monitors only. (Note: If you win you do not have to become part of our Project and report, unless you want to.)

More planning is going into our Bat Tube project. Billie Sunday is working away at his Bat Tube design, which is an 8" PVC pipe with 3 chambers inside. At this time we have our first one installed, and many of our Monitors have shown interest in putting them up. Florida has 17 different types of Bats, and they need our help to grow in numbers. Bats are very beneficial in eating crops pesky bugs, mosquitoes, pollination and reseeding lands.

We are also have plans to expand our Project to also include a study of the Cuban Tree Frog, which is a major predator and threat to all bird eggs and the babies.

We had a wonderful year last year, but this year is starting out fantastic! We are going to have lots of Bluebirds, helping the Bats, and hopefully finding more information on the Cuban Tree Frogs. This is all just too much fun! Come and join in our Project anyway you would like. I will find a place for you. If you would like a Bluebird Trail or Boxes do get in contact with me at 355-5265 or e-mail ke4fej1@email.msn.com Let us see what we can do for you, so you too can enjoy nature a bit more! Take a LOOK at our Web Site: http://ke4fej1.tripod.com/ where you can look at over 50 photos and see exactly what is happening.              Think Bluebird!

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Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Home is where the eggs are

A Manatee woman provides sturdy, affordable, single-family housing -- for bluebirds.



Experts told Christy Packard that bringing Walt Disney's favorite songbird this far south couldn't be done.

Bluebirds never travel south of Ocala, they told the Sarasota County resident.

But Packard, who had seen a bluebird in her back yard, was undaunted. She built and installed more than 350 bluebird boxes throughout six counties in Southwest Florida. About 35 boxes have nests and Packard has counted more than 100 eggs.

Now, those same experts call Packard "The Bluebird Lady."


The lesson she's learned sounds like something from a Disney movie: "One person can make a difference. All you have to do is start," she said.

When she first saw the tiny bird, Packard, 54, was struck by its bright feathers. She decided then and there she wanted to see the birds more often. The DeSoto Lakes resident began a personal crusade to build up the bluebird population in her spare time.

"I'm a little on the obsessive side," Packard said.


Packard, a deputy circuit court clerk, spends hours a day in her two-car garage building bird boxes. She wrote a book for the 4-H about how to do a bluebird project. She even writes a monthly column for the Myakka City community magazine about the newest eggs and bluebird sightings.

She spends about 15 hours a week updating her Internet site with details from the bluebird project.

"It's a lot of hours," she said. "I don't consider it a job, as far as bad work or anything."


Most of Packard's bird boxes are in the eastern parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties. Although there are no bluebird boxes currently in Charlotte County, Packard said she is hoping to find people willing to place boxes in their yards.

Those who agree to put up the boxes also need to monitor them and send results to Packard, who collects the information for Cornell University.

She's been so successful with the project, she said, because she knew exactly where to start. Packard, who was involved with the 4-H as a child, went to the organization for help in her efforts.


Children in 4-H in Sarasota and Manatee get free copies of Packard's book, and more than 30 members built the bluebird boxes.

"It's a very worthwhile thing," said Marcia Morris, a 4-H agent for Sarasota County. "It provided a lot of interest."

The low-cost project can become a family activity, which helps sell it to 4-H members. Morris said 4-H wants the project to go statewide. But the state needs nearly $5,000 to handle the editing and printing costs of providing 67 counties with copies of Packard's book.


Her project is not just local. Packard hears from people throughout the state who see her Web page, "Christy's Bluebird Project."

"I still feel like we're pioneers," Packard said. "Not everybody gets to land on the moon. You don't have to do great and wondrous things all the time, but there are accomplishments to be made."

The makings of Packard's accomplishment fill her two-car garage.

Nearly 30 PVC pipes lean against a corner wall. A pile of 2-foot stove pipes sit nearby. The pipes, capped with hardware wire, are predator guards, Packard said.


About ten bluebird boxes line a metal shelf she pulled from a neighbor's trash pile.

Boxes of Grip Rite Fas'ners, wire cutters, pliers, a hammer and cans of brown, black and gray spray paint, used to number each of the boxes, line the shelf.

Packard said she'd never used a hammer before she started building the boxes. She can now build a red cedar bluebird box in 10 minutes.

Myakka City resident Sherry Miller is among those Packard has inspired to help entice bluebirds here.


Miller got her boxes from Packard in February of last year -- a week after she saw her first bluebird.

"I was out in the back, feeding the animals and the male flew and sat on the fence," Miller said. A female soon joined him.

"I just kind of stopped and held my breath because I was scared they were going to fly away."

A pair recently made a nest in one of the six boxes Miller placed on her 10-acre property. They now have a half-dozen eggs.


Each day, Miller watches the nest from her dining room, where she keeps a journal and binoculars on her table.

"I was tickled to death," she said. "If you've never seen one, you can't imagine how blue they are. And the noise that they make, it's the prettiest sound that you hear out here."


Last modified: March 27. 2004 12:00AM

23 DOZEN BLUEBIRD EGGS AND MORE!

June 2004 for Myakka Livin'  by Christy

What a fantastic breeding year so far! As of May 10th our Monitors have reported just over 281 Bluebird eggs, that represents 171 nestlings and 116 have fledged. There have only been a few eggs which did not hatch, and 2 babies died in hatching, and 10 died by a raccoon getting to them. There has been 4 Yellow Rump Warblers fledged off Singletary Rd., and we have a nest of 5 eggs from a Carolina Wren which is our first nest found on a golf course; the Meadows Golf Course in Sarasota. There are also three different nests of the Tufted Titmouse, and 5 of the 11 eggs have hatched. Very few Monitored Bluebird Trails in the United States have turned in their records, but of those who have once again Myakka City has the first Bluebird Egg laid February 19 off of State Rd 70 Trail M 35 Monitor Todd Davis, and first Tufted Titmouse egg March 13th on Rye Rd in Parrish Bob and RJ Gwode Bluebird Trail M 23. Way to go! Good Monitoring!

The past two weeks I have been making a dedicated effort to collect the rest of the initial $3500.00 needed for the 4-H Bluebird Project Booklet. Hydro-Taste and Hydro-Stacker, Inc., found on Verna Bethany Rd., jumped right in to start off my quest. Hunsader Farms on 675 has also joined in. I did hear from about 10 other businesses which I will report on later. We are now over $2000.00. Please if you have been putting off writing a check take the time now to help make this a done deal. Once the initial $3500.00 is collected Gainesville 4-H will bring the Booklet up to state standards. The booklet will then be sent to all 67 counties. My hope is that it could be ready for the next years breeding season. Every little bit will add up. I am listing individuals last names and businesses on our web site and those businesses who have a web site I will be linking their site to their name. Be a part of 4-H History in getting this new printing fund collected, send your check to: Florida 4-H Foundation PO Box 110225 Gainesville, FL 32611-0225 ..mark the bottom of the check to go to the "Bluebird Project Printing Fund".

Our four reporting 4-H youths have already fledged 16 Bluebirds, and are now getting their nests for the second breeding. Any 4-H young people who have not ..reported to me that your box is up, please do so. I will then give you a box number, and you can then report in your box information so that I can send it to Cornell University. Call 355-5265 or e-mail ke4fej1@email.msn.com I will get back with you. I also will answer any questions you may have at any time until you are comfortable with your boxes and the birds. By the way I do the same for any of the adult Trails. I am always there to help you when you need information.Contest Winner is. Jenny Super of Panther Ridge! She is the winner of a Bluebird box. She and her four girls will be receiving their 7th Bluebird box to add to their M 7 Trail. Since it was Jenny, I am going to give a cut box which the family can put together, and this is a different style than they are using. There are dozens if not hundreds of Bluebird box styles. The boxes you see at Wal-Mart and Lowes are what is called a NABS approved box. NABS stands for North American Bluebird Society, and they have proven that the Bluebirds like to use a box with those measurements. Thank You Jenny for your entry, and your families great Monitoring!

Thank You, to Todd Davis and Billie Sunday. They both went to the Buffalo Creek Golf Course Bluebird Trail, and reset and Monitored all of their 10 boxes. Thank You, to Sherry Miller. She has taken over the Monitoring of M 33, and S 8 a total of 25 boxes along with her M 12 Trail. Thank You to Ann who is now Monitoring our Meadows Golf Course, and will be looking in on Tatum Ridge and Misty Creek Golf Courses all found in Sarasota.

Thank You PR Distributors of Sarasota off 12th St. They donated to our Project 20 feet of 6 inch of PVC pipe, which we will use in making more of the Bat Tubes. We have three tubes already installed. Two are on Wachula Rd., and one on State Rd. 70. Two bat houses in our Hb 2 Trail in Lutz, FL, told me they have counted 217 bats in their boxes! Now you say, how can you count bats? Seina and Mike are so smart, they used their VCR and filmed the Bats coming out of the boxes, and then counted them in slow motion. Do you have Bat boxes, or Bats? If you would like to join in the Bat part of our project call or e-mail.

Thank You, to the Florida Pine Sawmill on 675, for letting me pick up scrap pine wood to make boxes. They say there is a pile of scrap wood created everyday which usually has to be burned. Do you want to make your own boxes? You might even find a post pole to place your box on. This is a great way to recycle. Lots of natural cavities are being cut and burned out your way to make way for all the new housing which is going up. It is sad to see how the land is just striped for building. Putting nesting boxes up is something we all can do to help our feathered friends.

Remember ..anytime.. is a good time to put up a nesting box! Do it now and you still have time to find you have a Bluebird nesting on your property. Even if you think you will not get Bluebirds this year, your boxes need to be up and out so that when the Bluebirds fly around they can see where they might like to nest next year. The Bluebirds are spreading out this year. Verna Bethany Rd. to 675 from State Rd 70 to 64 is still busy. The Singletary Trail M 33 has had 13 of the 20 nest boxes used so far, and they never had seen a Bluebird their way. At the moment the second nest is being built at Marthas on Wachula Rd. Marthas Trail M 11 was one of what I believed to be the hardest to attract Bluebirds. Bluebirds can happen on your property too!

If you have not joined in our Project fun dont put it off. Need boxes or information give me a call or e-mail. Give your name and phone number and I will get back with you. You can also find more about Christys Bluebird Project by going to our web site, which you type in the address line exactly as you see here http:ke4fej1.tripod.com/         Think Bluebird!

WATCH OUR NUMBERS GROWING!

July 2004 by Christy for Myakka Livin'

Locally we have had about 220 reported Fledglings since the middle of last month! There has now been 443 Bluebird eggs having been laid, and 50 other types of bird egg laid. These are only those being reported in to our Bluebird initial Project. There are many more boxes out there also getting successful nestings of Bluebirds. Last year for the entire year we had 59 fledged. The birds can continue their breeding until the last week of August, which is usually the time the last of the babies are getting ready to fledge.

I am always hoping more people will join Christys Bluebird Project. You may have boxes but, do you really know what you should do to have the best chance of a successful breeding? You can read The Bluebird Monitors Guide, which is the best Bluebird book for all parts of Bluebirding. You can do what you have always done in the past, which may or may not be what you should be doing. Call or e-mail me to ask any questions. I would love for you to join our Project especially if you have 5 or more boxes which is a full Trail. There is no charge or fee to join in, and all I ask is that you send in an e-mail to me once a week to tell me what is happening on your Trail or in your boxes. Why? By joining in you can learn even more of what to do for your birds, and I am able to submit your information into Cornell University so they can study our areas Bluebirds. Anytime is a good time to put up a Bluebird Box and get started. Join us!!!

Those who have joined us this past month are the Laniers off of St Rd 675 and the Birds off of Verna Bethany Rd. Eli Miller in Sarasota has his Bluebird Trail now up, and also is getting his 48 Martin homes up, and he had reported Martins in his boxes already!

The big news is, that I contacted existing Bluebird Trails, asking that we band together to send in our information to Cornell. Bring our box setups up to the best they can be by box repairs, and to using predator guards, and doing the best Monitoring we can, plus to help spread the word Bluebird! First I contacted the Avon Park Air Force Range Bluebird 100 box Trail, Monitored by Willie and Kacky Williams. Outside of that park area, Allen Trevelyan Monitors 2 Trails, the School Bus Trail, and the Trev Lay Trail with a total of 56 boxes. One of his Trails is connected with the Forest Department. Also joining us is the Ona Florida Bluebird Trail just over the Hardy County line with 25 boxes Monitored by John Barrows and John Maddox. In Tampa, Sandra Reed is going to be the first official Monitor of two Trails of a total of 80 boxes, the Balm Boyette Trail, and the Flatlands Trail. Delilah Gwaltneys 18 yr. old Trail found at the intersection of I-75 and St Rd 44 outside of Wildwood, FL will be bringing her older 100 box Bluebird Trail back to life.

Now that we all will be working together to do the best for the Bluebirds, we can now add their Trail boxes with our boxes for a total now of 787 Bluebird boxes, and that makes 68 Trails and we still have 10 individuals and 4 4-H boxes reporting to me for Cornell. I still have hopes to make Myakka City the Bluebird Capital of Florida, but we need more boxes reporting in our area so that we will be out producing Bluebirds in this area compared to the above Trail boxes.

Once we get the existing Trails up to par, my hopes are to continue connecting all of our areas together with more individual homeowners. Look where we have come in two years. It was two years ago at the end of July that I put up the very first Bluebird box over on Bear Bay Rd off of St Rd 64. So in less than two years we are now Monitoring 787 Bluebird boxes. I believe many more boxes and more good things are to come. This is Florida Pioneer Bluebird History in the making! Come join in now!

Also this past month Monitors have been mailing in the used nests of fledged birds to a Dr. Terry Whitmore in Washington state. He checks the nests for free, and is looking for parasites. He has spent his life working on looking for Blow Fly and other parasites in all types of bird nests. He has never proven Blow Fly in two states and Florida is one he believes to find it in but, has never proven it to be here. Now with all of these Trails in the many areas, I have hopes that we can also be a part of Science History, and that we can help him find this bug he is looking for. So far he has found two nests with Flesh Fly in the old nests. This is a wonderful way to help a scientist. How often do we as just an individual get to be a part of documented science. So far, many of our local Monitors have been sending in their nests, and the Avon Park Air Force Range has also sent in a box of nests.

In the past few weeks I hope you may have seen an article in the newspaper on Bluebirding and 4-H. At the moment Ian Wilson has three nests filled with baby birds. He is having fantastic luck with 4 of his 5 boxes so far this year. It is also neat that he checks his boxes on horseback! Ian also received a Blue ribbon for the great work on his Bluebird Project Booklet. He is one of the first to ever turn in this Bluebird Booklet for review. Joy Jordan of the Gainesville 4-H department said that the Bluebird Project Booklet is now ready to go into the process for printing.

Again, dont wait to join us in being a part of Floridas Bluebird History, and learning how to properly take care of your birds. Call or e-mail me 355-5265 or ke4fej1@email.msn.com And take a look at our Web Site with over 60 photos found at http://ke4fej1.tripod.com/ Find out how you can get started today!                  THINK BLUEBIRD!

CAVITY NESTER’S BREEDING FOR THIS YEAR

IS JUST ABOUT OVER

Aug 2004- by Christy for Myakka Livin'

The end of August will bring about the end of all the breeding of cavity nesters, like the Bluebird. Why? I hear some say their harmones are running out. But, just think of having three or four nestings happening month after month, which could give a possible twelve to 20 babies. And they have to keep predators away, find enough food, survive severe weather, and always there is the unrelenting heat! Plus, the young birds slow down breeding, because they are new Moms, and the older Moms are too old to just keep producing.

The Bluebirds will stay around our area all year long. John Barrows of the Ona Bluebird Trail in Hardy County, made the comment that other Bluebirds will come from the Northern areas, and fly among our Bluebirds in the wintertime. You will be seeing Bluebirds in larger flocks of birds, as they fly from property to property looking for new homes for next year.

Many have asked about the Purple Martin, and that they have not seen them around. They come to our area starting in January and leave at least by late June. By the middle of July, they have flown on to the Louisiana area, and meet in the numbers of thousands for their flight to Central America. I just read where Shreveport, LA is a good place to view this gathering.

A Carolina Wren just finished a nest of four fledglings. Over on Rye Rd, Chris, Bob and RJ Gwode’s Trail M 23, had a late nesting of them. Along with the Carolina Wren and the Tufted Titmouse will both stay in our area, but are through breeding until next year. The Great Crested Flycatcher which nests one time, came to our area the end of May, and it too is through breeding. Mari Grosse’s Trail M 34 off State Rd. 70, should have their woodpecker and it’s four babies just finish fledging.

This is not the end, but another great beginning! We have had many new Monitors this year as our Trail numbers grew. I also know there must be many of your who have not joined our Project, which also have boxes you look after. There has been a lot of hands on Bluebird education this year because of so many nestings. Also, so many of the nests have had many birds fledge from them. All that is left now, is the reporting paperwork to be finished. Now is also a great time to make those corrections/repairs to your boxes or Trail.

If you do not have a Trail, now is an excellent time to get ready for next year. Yes! There is only just over 5 months left until breeding season starts again! It will be here just that fast. Think about that. Take out time for Thanksgiving, and Christmas, Holloween, getting ready for school,… well you can see we all stay very busy. If you want Bluebirds, and other cavity nesting birds, you have to stop and make time to fit caring for them into your life. Whether you put up your own boxes, or join our Bluebird Project, those boxes need to be looked after, and you have a responsibility to know what you should do. I would like to help you.

At this end to the season, I am now completing, our almost 800 Bluebird boxes, worth of information to Cornell University. At the time of this writing, we still have 22 boxes with eggs and babies in our immediate area. Monitor Sherry Miller reported starts of new nests on Billie Sunday’s M 33 Singletary Rd. Trail. These nests will be complete about the third week of August. I have been working with the older existing Trails on the gathering all of their Trail information, and I am making sure that we all are reporting as to the way Cornell University needs for their Bluebird research.

Other happenings are the nest project, which Willie and Kacky Williams of the Avon Park Trail, and John Barrows of the Ona Trial, along with a few of our other smaller Trail Monitors, have been sending in their used nests to Dr. Terry Whitmore in WA, where he is looking for Blow Fly. No Blow Fly yet, but he has found three nests with Flesh Fly, which also can hurt the babies. The 4-H Bluebird Project Booklet has been sent off to the State 4-H in Gainesville, where it now will be looked over and made ready for printing. We did not meet our printing fund goal yet, but they wanted to get started. So continue to get your checks in. Do check out our web site at http://ke4fej1.tripod.com/

Our Bluebird Project is not slowing down, and I would hope that you would give me a call at 355-5265 or e-mail ke4fej1@email.msn.com to ask any questions. I would like to see everyone with boxes reporting their box information. Remember it is all free, just a little time each week. I have three Trails ready to go out now, 5 boxes and poles and 3 predator guards for $75.00. I would also like to hear from anyone that has boxes and birds between I 75 and State Rd 675. I am looking for reports of Bluebird nestings or sightings. Please help us out and report what you see. We are spreading the word …………..THINK BLUEBIRD!

 

Where Do Birds Go In A Storm?

October 2004 - by Christy for Myakka Livin'

What a time every living thing has gone through these past weeks! I hope you and yours are all well and came through these hard times. I pictured bird boxes flying through the air, and all the past two years work would be gone. After hurricane Charley, I contacted all of my Bluebird Monitors. I found as a total, hundreds of trees were lost on properties. As to structures, on State Rd. 64 our Monitor of M 6 Bambi, lost a 3000 sq. ft. shed. In Hardee county H 1 Maria and Horst, lost their huge carport and patio. The Ona Bluebird Trail was in the direct line of the eye, and as of yet I still do not have a report if it made it, but we had our doubts. The Monitors of the Ona Trail, both John’s had the roofs on one bedroom in each of their house’s break through or off. I have not heard nor wanted to bother Ken of our Arcadia Trail, because of so much destruction out their way, that checking on a few Bluebird boxes just does not seem that important.

After Francis I heard from Avon Park Monitor’s and Kacky and Willie, they say that they will have to repair some of their large cone predator guards, but that their 100 boxes are fine. I did not hear of any other problems. I believe that at most we lost only 35 boxes, and plans are started now on how to replace that loss.

The end of September is when the years breeding records were to be in to Cornell University. We were doing fine on reporting until the storms, and now it is only the large Trails which yet have to report. We have had a fantastic year even with Mother Nature making a violent visit.

So where do birds go in a storm? I can’t say I have found any written information, nor have I heard from other experts from around the country as to an exact answer. Some thought that perhaps the birds can sense the change in the drop of air pressure and instinctively know something is going to happen, and then know what they are to do. I wonder with Charley if that could be true because of the sudden change in direction and the very fast track it made through the state. How could a bird pick up the change, and then fly as many miles as it would be needed in so little time? Now then in Francis the storm took longer to arrive and it could be possible that birds would know to fly out of an area. But, then do the birds really fly as long a distance as would be needed?

I believe in hurricane Charley that many birds were killed. We all saw the pictures of the winds as they ripped through the trees. There was no holding on to limbs. In Francis, with the exception of the West coast areas, but through the state and on to our coast, I believe there was a place for birds to still hide in the trees. In hurricane Francis, I saw a hawk on my neighbors power line. The hawk then flew to my fence line, where we looked at each other for a long time. Then the hawk flew within 8 ft. to my house’s electric pole line. We again watched each other. It was like it was trying to ask for help as it’s feathers were being blown every which way. I also saw how Blue Jays were only hoping about a foot at a time moving through my back bushes. Another lady told me that looking in the tree next to her home, she saw five hawks on the lower limb of a tree, where they were all huddled together. Her house was possibly blocking much of the winds. She also stated that the tree was filled with other types of birds.

In Gulf Breeze, Florida, is the Tiger Bay Golf Club Bluebird 50 Box Trail. As of this writing no word of the Monitor has been heard of yet. Aerial views do not look good, like most other pictures we have seen. Both this Trail, and the Ona Trail had very high winds, and I believe there was great loss of Bluebirds. Next years breeding in these areas should be of great interest, because we will be able to see if these two well established Bluebird Trails will have the returning nesters. We may be able to supply new information to Cornell University on what 80-135 miles per hour winds do to an areas birds. THINK BLUEBIRD!

ALL CAVITY NESTING BIRDS NEED OUR HELP EVEN MORE

November 2004 - by Christy for Myakka Livin'

Much lost of natural habitat occurred during our pasted storms. Now is the time, especially for the Bluebirds to be out and about, looking for the place they might like to have as their nest site, for next year Their favorite tree, or tree stump, or tangle of roots may have been ruined. Possibly even their manmade boxes have been destroyed, like some boxes were on our Ona and Arcadia Bluebird Trails. Did you lose any of your own manmade Bluebird houses during our past violent weather? It is very important that I find out from anyone out in our Myakka Livin’ areas, if you did have any of your Bluebird boxes ruined. All I need for you to do is call me at 355-5265 and leave short message. If you would leave your phone number and name, I will call back just to ask the details of your loss. PLEASE, do give me a call if you lost any of your Bluebird boxes. The results of next years bird count could be affected with these losses, and I would like to be able to turn in to Cornell University all the information about our cavity nesting birds that can be gathered. I need your help in this area.

Do you realize it is only three months until the first Bluebird egg will be laid once again! Todd Davis just off of State Rd 70, and before Verna Bethany Rd, reported the first egg last year. How exciting to be able to say he had the First Bluebird laid in the whole United States in 2004! What a wonderful memory. It could be YOUR Bluebird box with that first reported egg this year. Are you ready? Do you have your Bluebird box or boxes up? Are you making plans to build or purchase boxes? Any time is the best time to put up Bluebird boxes, and especially now would be a perfect time to get ready for next years breeding season. How many Procrastinators do we have out there? Did you miss the start of last years breeding season? Did you keep putting off, putting up your boxes? If you do not make a little extra effort, it seems that time passes, and the job does not get done. I know I say it many times, but now is the time to put your boxes up. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming and you know you will not have time, and January can get too cold and windy to be out digging holes and putting up boxes. Why not be all ready to just wait for the arrival for your nesting birds. Do not miss another year of the fun and enjoyment of watching your own Bluebirds.

I do hope all of the our existing Project Bluebird Trails will continue to report to me next year, so that I will be able to continue to report what is happening with our Florida Bluebirds. We are making Bluebird History here in Florida, and our 3rd Year is going to be even better. Next month I should have our year end totals from this past breeding season. I am always looking for new Monitors. A Bluebird Trail is 5 boxes placed in one general area. To be in our Project I ask that you report what you see once a week from February to July, by e-mail or by leaving a phone message. You can make or purchase your boxes. I have 4 complete trails ready to go out, which is 5 boxes, 5 poles, and 3 predator guards for $75.00 delivered. I am always an e-mail or phone call away for all of your questions. Call 355-5265 if you have questions or would like a Trail.

We now have close to 800 Monitored Reporting nest boxes in our Project. My Goal, for next year, is to get that number to 1000 Monitored boxes with the information being reported to Cornell University. Our area, and Christy’s Bluebird Project is actually getting to be known through out the United States. And the most important part is that we are known for our Monitored Boxes. A monitored nest box’s information from reported nestings of the past, shows that a monitored box has a better chance for a larger overall total of successful nestings. This year we added Bluebird Trails which have been around for many years, but now with regular weekly monitoring, the Monitor found that boxes which they knew had eggs in them, and they thought Bluebirds were having fledglings from, were actually being hit over and over by predators. These boxes probably had be attacked the same way for years past. Remember once a predator finds your nest box, that predator usually will continue to come back over and over again. When you find this out you need to put up a Predator Guard, or move the box to a new location. These Trail Monitors did not believe that predators were actually making such a big difference in the success of their birds fledging. Our Goal is to Fledge more birds, not to help feed the predators. Yes, it is a part of the life cycle that predators eat birds, and they will eat some, but your box/boxes should not be attacked repeatedly. You need to know if this is happening, and be responsible to try and solve the problem.

Are you ready to start your Trail and get your boxes up? Are you motivated to get your old boxes cleaned, repaired, and ready for next season? I am afraid Florida lost a lot of cavity nesting birds this summer, and we need to also help them repair or get new homes. Bring some extra happiness into your life. Once you have Bluebirds breeding on your property, I guarantee you that you will be hooked on Bluebirds forever. THINK BLUEBIRD!