Sunday, May 1, 2016

BT@HB Bluebird Trail is Thriving

The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay is home to a collection of 45 Eastern Bluebird nesting houses strategically scattered throughout the golf course.  These nesting houses have been in place since 2008 and have fledged hundreds of bluebirds which now fill the air around the golf course.  Eastern Bluebirds are not only nice to look at, but have a peaceful song and help to eat lots of insects, including spiders, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and many more.

Nesting boxes at the course are very active already this year with over half of them already having residents staking claim for the year.  Bluebirds usually have 1-3 broods of 2-7 eggs per year.  The incubation period is between 11-19 days and the then they will remain in the nest from 17-21 day before fledging.

Bill and Diane Bice, Diane Johnstone, Angie Medley
(Deanne and Jim Morgan, Chuck Johnstone not pictured)
We are extremely fortunate that several years ago we were able to connect with interested community members who love to monitor and take care of our nesting boxes.  These members of the Friends of Harrison Bay State Park volunteer their time to take care of the blue bird houses at the course and a smaller blue bird trail at the park.  Projects like this one where we can reach outside of our course and invite people from the community to see what golf courses can provide for the environment are critical in changing the philosophy that golf courses are harmful to the environment. Previous post on Bluebird Nest Monitoring

After a couple of years where we lost several nests due to predication from raccoons and snakes we installed simple wire predator guards which have made a significant difference in our success rate.

Recently our friends at TurfNet put together this video on the predator guards and why we use them.

Bluebird nesting houses can be a great addition to any golf course, or even your backyard, and are rather easy to make.  There are many nesting house plans on the internet but we chose to use the Eastern Bluebird Nesting Box Plans from Audubon International.   Bluebird Fact Sheet from Audubon International

All the information you could probably ever need to know about bluebirds can be found at or at All About Birds

In order to keep up with how our nesting houses are doing Mrs. Diane Johnstone reports our nesting activity to  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Nest Watch.  A real simple way to know which boxes are doing well and help to keep a count of Eastern Bluebird nesting activity at Harrison Bay.

The Bluebird Trail at the golf course has been one of the easier environmental projects that we have done and has provided suitable habitat for hundreds of hatchlings to begin their lives.  If you don't have bluebird houses (or another species nesting house) on your course then I strongly encourage you to consider it.  Start small with just a few and expand from there.   Happy Birding!!!