Mount Welcomes Its Newest Feathered Community
By S. Georgia Kitt
It started with a discussion with my cousin Pat when visiting last summer. We discussed our concerns for the Earth and that creatures no longer inhabited regions where they once were due to human’s use of pesticides and invasion of their spaces. Pat had been helping to bring back bluebirds to her area of southern Minnesota. This caught my attention. What about helping this cause at Mount St. Joseph? Pat and fellow concerned birders have increased the Minnesota bluebird population; with 3,475 bluebirds fledged from their nests last year.
At Christmas, while visiting in Wisconsin, Pat gifted me with two nest boxes, representing the latest in successful bluebird house designs (PVC and ½-inch rebar). With my new learning I was intent on getting started, however I also knew I had to wait until March. I read about the efforts up North to bend the arc toward better bluebird health, strategically placing the boxes in open habitat with two boxes at a site, spaced 15 feet apart to reduce the pressure and competition on them. I learned they are insect-loving and great housekeepers, usually having two to three broods per season. Bluebirds seek out open country for nesting with a scattering of trees near mowed ground. What better Ohio setting than our Motherhouse campus!
In late March Alan Wittich, our knowledgeable Motherhouse groundskeeper, mounted the two boxes on the hillside to the left of the road leading to the cemetery, overlooking the Ohio River; they were inhabited within four days! Sisters are able to observe their habits and see them playing in the pine trees near their home. Parents have been seen coming and going. If all goes well, we will see babies make their first flight from the nest in about 10 days. The parents will fly with the fledglings to a nearby limb, where they will remain while the male teaches them how to find food, about 12-18 days after birth. Meanwhile, mom will start over at the nest, laying a second clutch, but only after tidying up the nest with fresh pine needles and fine grass. Enjoy the photos of our newest community and their presence among us.