On Saturday, Patricia Becker, Mitchell Thomas, and I (Will Waller) met at the Eagle Heights Garden shed to make an observational walk along the new Bluebird Trail that surrounds the BioCore Prairie. See our Bluebird page for a map marking the 12 Bluebird boxes and project details.
Observing means filling out a data form from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
It is an easy task, and a tremendously interesting one. I know it is old news to veteran birders, but to us newbies, the differences between the nests of wrens, bluebirds, swallows and chickadees is fascinating. We carried a BRAW handbook to help us identify birds and nests. Also, there is quite a lot of information on the BRAW web-site.
1) approach bird box and knock gently to announce your inspection
2) open house carefully: sparrows tend to be buried within their nests via a tunnel and will flash out in your face if you are not careful.
3) confirm nest type to identify bird, if you haven't seen one perching on the box
4) check for eggs
5) record required data on the BRAW form
6) move on to the next box
All of the boxes are easily approached and all are beside regular walking trails. They are sited within a specific "perching perimeter" so that the occupants can guard their box. And guard they do!
If you aren't a birder yet, this trail might make you a convert – that's what's happening to me. The trail takes about 40 minutes to monitor and the entire 40 minutes is filled with genuine excitement. You see the birds up close, they monitor you as you monitor them! The prairie area is no longer quiet, it's a noisy, busy place: hundreds of birds, thousands of bees (we need Hannah Gaines-Day to do a bee-walk), the leopard frogs are out by the hundreds. You cannot walk between the boxes without stopping to watch field events unfold. If you are interested in monitoring let us know (preserveFriends@gmail.com).
If you haven't been to the Prairie this season, now is the time. The old apple orchard is approaching full blossom. The bird houses are occupied. You will see bluebirds. The walk is easy. Comment below on what YOU see.