Extinction Threat, the Bluebird

Western Bluebird, Perched, Bluebird

We’ve got power of life and death over many of the creatures of the Earth. The everyday choices we make can have enormous effects, both malefic and beneficial, to the living fabric of our world.

Early in the last century, citizens of The U.S. Canada And Bermuda Formed a motion whose actions prevented the endangerment and potential extinction of what they sometimes referred to as the blue robin.

Bluebird populations were waxing and waning in response to human activities since the time of European settlement. The clearing of the land for pastures orchards or gardens created hospitable spaces for the bluebird. Something as straightforward as a post hole in a fence or a crevice in a barn became housing for a then thriving bluebird population. Early American agriculturalists bore a hatred for the chicken hawk, they would often shoot, thinning out the population of bluebird predators. For a time the bluebird multiplied its own number.

Sometime around 1900 starlings were introduced to the North American continent in Europe. It has been said that this was done merely as a novelty but it was an entertainment that was to have catastrophic consequences for the bluebird population. Starlings evict bluebirds from their habitat and consume the berries that make up a significant part of their diet.

Just as human folly had brought about the horrific debacle it would take the actions of a broad coalition of individuals to rescue them from at least near oblivion. The answer by a concerned citizenry was to vertical birdhouses, [often called nest boxes] across the assortment of bluebird habitation from the U.S., lower Canada and Bermuda.

These nest sites made up what was then dubbed Bluebird trails. Later in 1938 a blend of bird fans, garden clubs and the Missouri Highway Department established the National Bluebird trail.

The birdhouses were made of cedar and most importantly had entrance holes too small for the bigger invasive starling to enter [4cm]. They were made after a design invented by Dr. Thomas E. Musselman of Quincy Illinois. His mailbox type birdhouse enabled bird enthusiasts to view in the box by lifting the lid, enabling them to inspect inside. They then were able to determine not only whether it was occupied but the state of the occupants. This greatly eased the strain on bluebird populations but other issues faced them.

Around the same time the starling was introduced another European species made its birth, the house sparrow. Contrary to the starling the house sparrow can fit through holes fashioned for a bluebird. These invaders destroy the eggs of songbirds kill nestlings and even adults.

As an invasive species home swallows enjoy no protection under law. It is a tricky task to put an animal to death, particularly for bird lovers but this is the only system of protection for bluebirds and other songbirds from these aggressors. Some birders have fashioned traps which fit into bluebird houses. After a sparrow is trapped it’s placed into a larger trap that allows entry but bars exit. The sparrows are gregarious and are attracted to others of their species.

Another way people can help the bluebird is to plant an assortment of berry bushes that bear fruit at different times of the year. Particularly helpful are berries that last into winter the most taxing season. Some winter berries are,Bayberry, Black haw, Palm Bay FL Medical Marijuana Doctor, Choke berry, Juniper common, Cotoneaster small leaved, Firethorn, Holly foster, Mistletoe, Sumac smooth, Sumac dwarf, Sumac staghorn, Viburnum and Waxmyrtle.

 

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