Monday, October 15, 2007

A Bluebird Question From Betty Jo

Male Bluebird
Long time correspondent and blog reader Betty Jo sent in a Bluebird question that I'd wondered about myself...

Hi Donna,
If Bluebirds find fence posts a nice height for hunting, did they perhaps increase in numbers when settlers began fencing their gardens and later on entire farming areas? How did they hunt before?
Betty Jo

Very astute, I looked into it and there is some thought that Bluebirds did increase in numbers with the arrival of the Europeans, as the birds tend to like a mixed habitat of trees, bushes, and pasture/grassland. Therefore the type of original European farming methods in the country was likely conducive to their food supply in the first place, add the fence posts for hunting perches and cavities, cavities being nifty nesting spots and always at a premium, and TA DA, more Bluebirds.

I've seen them hunt as I mentioned from power poles also from trees and do ground sallys from twigs on bushes as well. But I think the movement of the bird leaving the bush wiggles it enough to send the bug off in some cases. Also hunting from a post gives a 360 view. No doubt Bluebirds used stumps as they're similar in advantages. But stumps have become far less prevalent as well, due to the ease of stump-away chemicals.

The unenlightened do find the sight of trunks strangely unsightly though they are a treasure trove of nutrients for all sorts of species that pop up only in that decaying trunk habitat and turn into quite wonderful mini-habitats of the strange and wonderful.

A little off topic, but another use for a rotting stump is a stash place for seed by Nuthatches. I watched one yesterday shove at least 25 sunflower seeds into the old trunk in the backyard safely packed away for some cold hungry day coming up this winter.

Donegal Browne

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