If you keep a keen eye out throughout the parks at Lake Sidney Lanier, you may be able to spy a few small wooden boxes meant to be home for the Eastern Bluebirds of Georgia. The boxes are no bigger than a shoe box, with a slanted roof and a small hole for entry, the bluebird boxes are easy to miss. Attached to trees, posts and even fences, it seems there are few places the native species has chosen to avoid. If you look closely, you may spot several blue bird boxes on the blistering trail along the levee at Buford Dam Park and hung from shady trees at Lower Pool Day Use. Park Attendants warn we are unlikely to find young this late in the season, but after a short walk from their trailers, i.e. home sweet summer home, the Atlanta Survey Team finds nests with life. Tap tap tap on the small wooden roof as to not scare mama blue bird. Is anyone home? We listen. On the side of the box, a screw lightly locks the wall of the tiny home in place. A few rotations of the wrist with a screwdriver and the wall hinges open.
Eastern blue birds have a distinct set of items they use when creating their nests and a unique style of building as well. Usually their nests are between 1 and 4 inches in height, containing fine grasses or pine needles and in the Georgia area, it is not uncommon to find brightly colored mosses, green and hazy grey/blue. In combination with the baby blue eggs, the tiny nursery belonging to the Eastern Bluebird is beautiful! On occasion, after the familiar tap tap tap followed by silent seconds of listening, faint sounds of tiny chirps can be heard. The wall comes up, letting light in. A tiny pile of fluff-less baby birds reach their heads to the sky and open their tiny beaks, waiting for mama to drop nourishment. The young are, of course, gushed over and then counted. In fact, the box and its contents (type of nest, number of eggs, number of young and relevant site notes) are recorded in code in the field binder. The light is shut out as the wooden wall is put back into place and the screw inserted as if to quietly lock the door behind us. Which box next? Maps, binders and small tools follow us back to the SCA stamped vehicle.
Nests are common, although not every nest is exactly what were are looking for. Among the imposters include House Wrens, Tree Swallows, Carolina Chickadees, House Sparrows, and even native flying squirrels. Sometimes you'll find a bug infestation or the beginnings of a hornets nest. Not unlike human beings, it turns out even birds will avoid some real estate with pest problems. Wearing blue rubber gloves, the Atlanta Survey Team acts as pest control, removing insects and clearing the box in hope an Eastern Bluebird may return home.
This conservation project has earned a 10 in cuteness factor.
Written by Sophie.