Bluebirds Looking To Make A Home In The Alleghany Highlands
Warm Springs, Va – The recent warm days in the Alleghany Highlands brought thoughts of spring not only to local residents, but also to the birds. Robins and red-wing blackbirds that nest in our area have been seen locally in recent weeks. Bluebird pairs are starting to look for nesting sites.
Bluebirds nest in tree cavities like old woodpecker holes. Competition from house sparrows and starlings and loss of habitat caused by clearing for woodlands nearly put the Eastern Bluebird on the endangered species list in the 1970s. However, now bluebird populations in Virginia are increasing due to efforts of landowners to provide high quality nesting sites such as bluebird nest boxes. This was part of the message brought by Bath County resident and bird conservationist Sandy Bratton at the Bluebird Basics presentation she made at the Dairy Barn in Warm Springs this past Saturday.
About 30 local land owners came to hear Sandy talk about the nesting cycle of the bluebird and how to set up your own bluebird nest box. There are two bluebird nest box makers in the area. Jim Lindsay of Warm Springs and Fred Frye of Monterey both make nest boxes according to the guidelines recommended by the Virginia Bluebird Society.
It is very important to use nest boxes that protect the nesting birds from predators such as snakes, raccoons and squirrels. Mary Hodges, the Executive Director of the Virginia Hot Springs Preservation Trust, talks about how she got the idea for this event.
“Sandy turned me onto our first Bluebird Box and we recently moved to a farm and have an ideal setting for them” she says. “It was just a personal interest. That’s one of the benefits of my job is that I get to do a lot of event planning for things that I’m passionate about. But our focus is mainly conservation and community so there are a lot of activities that come under those two headings.”
Bluebirds in our area will start building nests in March, so there is still time to set up nest boxes for them. Information on bluebird nest boxes can be found on the Virginia Bluebird Society website.
The Virginia Hot Springs Preservation Trust will be a sponsor for the rain barrel workshop at the Dairy Barn on April 23. Mary goes on to talk about another upcoming event.
“We are co-sponsoring several events with the tourism initiative in Bath and in April there is a radio benefit that’s going to take place here at the Dairy Barn” says Hodges. “And they’re going to sponsor a day of artisan vendors and music, and there’s going to be a bluegrass band on that Friday night, and then the vendors will be here on Saturday, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Stay tuned to Alleghany Mountain Radio for information on future events at the Dairy Barn in Warm Springs.