Keller nesting boxes make bluebirds feel right at home

Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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KELLER - Eastern Bluebirds will have more housing in Keller this year during nesting period, thanks to some local volunteers.

Seventeen new bird boxes are in place, joining 11 original ones on a trail that stretches about three and a half miles from Keller-Smithfield Road west to the western end of the Keller Sports Park along the Bear Creek Trail. Golfers at Sky Creek Ranch might also notice some boxes, with 20 near the cart paths.

Members from the Texas Bluebird Society will be monitoring all 48 boxes during nesting season, which occurs February through July.

"It takes time and manpower to monitor the boxes but it can be a pleasant exercise at the same time," said Barbara Ohlman, of Fort Worth, who began monitoring the bird boxes in 2007. "This is a great hobby."

The 17 new boxes started as an Eagle Scout project for Ian Crispin of Keller's Troop 32.

Mike Hagan, a local member of the Texas Bluebird Society and the Cross Timbers Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program, noticed the boxes and saw a way to improve both the boxes and their location.

With permission from the city, he retrofitted the boxes with wider holes, wasp suppression measures and door latches. The boxes were then redeployed along the full length of the trail with Hagan finishing the last one in August.

Hagan and Ohlman are hoping the efforts help preserve the population of the Eastern Bluebird. They will be checking the boxes weekly during nesting season to gather information for NestWatch.org., a nationwide monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds.

"The numbers have been declining because of development," Hagan said. "The birdhouses replace nest sites that have disappeared."

Hagan said he became interested in Eastern Bluebirds a few years ago after he bought a house in Keller.

He said the house had a bird box that attracted Eastern Bluebirds.

"I had never seen one ... They were beautiful," he said.

While Hagan was taking a walk in the park, he noticed Ohlman checking birdhouses and asked what she was doing.

Their conversation led to Hagan volunteering to monitor the birdhouses.

Ohlman said she was thrilled when Hagan asked if he could help.

Just like Hagan, Ohlman became interested in the Eastern Bluebird after spotting one in her yard in 2005, right after she had moved in to her house.

"I spied a blue bird on my fence. It was the most beautiful thing," she said. "It's not every day you see a bird like this in your back yard."

Ohlman joined the Texas Bluebird Society in 2006.

She said she enjoys her time learning about the birds and spending time on the trail.

"It takes time and manpower to monitor the boxes but it can be a pleasant exercise at the same time," she said. "This is a great hobby."

Hagan said besides Eastern Bluebirds, the boxes will likely be occupied by Bewick's Wrens and Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice might use the boxes from time to time.

Ohlman said the Texas Bluebird Society is always looking for volunteers and new members.

Membership is $15 and includes a free bird box.

"We've got the get the nest boxes out there," she said. "There will always be a need for conservation."

Ohlman said her efforts are all worth it, especially when she spots one of the Eastern Bluebirds.

"They don't call it the blue bird of happiness for no reason, they just capture your attention," she said. "They put a smile on my face. ... They just make you happy and fill you with joy."

For more information about the Texas Bluebird Society and how to obtain boxes or to assist during nesting season, contact Hagan at aloeso@verizon.net or Ohlman at bohere@verizon.net.

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