Ann Wright: A cheer for the bluebirds

January is a great time to start out arranging far more chook-helpful gardens. To really encourage bluebirds, as effectively as a assortment of other excellent birds, including desirable habitat to a back garden will attract a range of excellent guests to your region.
Photograph courtesy All About Birds

1 of the most gratifying aspects of gardening is bringing character alive – a coexistence in between wildlife and the gardens we cherish. Birds – my morning chirp! I appreciate the birds in my garden – even the small kinds that devour my sunflower leaves!

Bluebirds are specifically exclusive. As section of the team of flycatchers, there is some thing really intriguing about them – their actions and their striking visual appearance. Flourishing in areas of oak woodlands, they swoop evenly to the ground to catch insects but will not bring about a ruckus by relocating all the mulch out of the back garden mattress, building a mess of the patio. They can generally be found sitting down on a fence adjacent to an open up field, or in locations where useless trees offer nesting destinations or excellent perching possibilities. At times they can be viewed in smaller gatherings to feed on insects or berries.

The male western bluebird (Sialia mexicana) is significantly brighter in shade than female of the species with brilliant blue top feathers and a rust-colored “vest”. Girls and juveniles have muted gray-blue top feathers, dull orange-coloured breasts and blue tint to tail and suggestions of wings. Bluebirds make nests in tree holes, or in nesting bins designed just for them.

Around our Penn Valley place, there are a range of bluebird nesting bins – on posts close to oak trees going through pasture land, and also in our regional park. Community boxes are tended by neighbors who thoroughly clean out the boxes each and every year and keep an eye on the boxes for exercise. Since loss of habitat is a most important menace to bluebirds, the addition of a nesting box to your backyard garden will help draw in bluebirds or, potentially another species to your garden. The surprise is the reward!

There are locations to order a all set-to-go bluebird box, or most likely setting up a single could be a new-observed passion. This is a superior time to place up chook nesting bins, just before breeding year. Bluebird bins have to have a 1½ -inch opening and a unique space in which to develop the nest. Bins need to be placed about 4 to six ft significant, going through toward open fields or forested places. Nesting actions can get started in early spring but the the vast majority of nesting action happens among May well and the close of July.

There are a selection of web-sites on the net with guidance for constructing nesting containers. The web site of the Pure Means Conservation Services of the USDA presents plans and guidelines.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology web page, “” has facts about bluebird nesting boxes as very well as all those of quite a few other birds.

January is a very good time to start off arranging far more chook-helpful gardens. To motivate bluebirds, as very well as a assortment of other superb birds, adding fascinating habitat to a garden will draw a range of great people to your region. Offer meals, water and protection for birds. In basic, smaller backyard birds take in seed, insects, and caterpillars. Much larger birds consume frogs, fish and other animals. Indigenous crops help many bugs which helps bring in much more birds. Your backyard may possibly even develop into an island of habitat for migrating birds. Our community places may possibly draw in a number of California native hen species, these kinds of as California thrashers, western bluebirds, American robins, northern glints, Nuttall’s woodpeckers, mockingbirds, cedar waxwings and scrub jays. Of system, wild match birds these as turkey and California quail are commonplace at various instances of the time. Below are some other strategies for creating a fowl-friendly back garden:

• Increase leaf litter by maintaining leaves on the floor. This offers habitat and forage locations for the birds as effectively as vitamins and minerals for the soil as leaves split down. Leaf mulch also allows plants mainly because humidity is stored at floor level.

• Plant layers inside of the garden. The higher range of food and layers in your back garden, the higher variety of birds that will go to. For instance, floor include crops this sort of as Dudleya or dwarf yarrow, followed by taller indigenous sages, California fuchsia, and penstemon is a way to start out new parts. Including taller shrubs these kinds of as Toyon, California Coffeeberry and other understory shrubs will incorporate natural beauty to the back garden as perfectly as valuable habitat for birds. Blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can be appreciated by both equally individuals and birds!

• Drinking water – birds like shallow water. If using a fountain, a recirculating pump will prevent mosquitos from breeding, and the effervescent water is appealing to finches and other birds. Chook baths can be deeper in a single spot for bigger birds. (Improve the water a few of occasions a 7 days to avert mosquitos and sickness.)

The Master Gardeners of Nevada County have community workshops planned for the beginning of the period focusing on pollinators and indigenous vegetation. The workshop, “Pollinators – Stimulate these Vital Very little Critters” will be introduced on Feb. 13. On Feb. 27, “Bringing Indigenous Vegetation into Your Backyard garden, Aspect 1” will be offered, followed by section 2 on March 6, 2021. Until finally we are authorized to present in-particular person workshops, presentations will be on the internet, by using Zoom beginning at 9 a.m. Guidance and Zoom entry will be posted on our community site at: . Master Gardeners are also dwell on the radio most Saturdays on KNCO radio, 830- AM from 10 a.m. to noon.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Learn Gardener.