Love those bluebirds (plenty of photos)

Photo by Chris Bosak Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Eastern Bluebirds are nesting again at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust. Here are some photos I took during a quick visit on Tuesday morning. (More photos below — click on “continue reading.”)

Eastern Bluebirds have made a strong comeback following a decline due to several factors, including competition for nesting sites with introduced species such as House Sparrows and European Starlings. The comeback has been bolstered in large part to humans offering nesting sites to bluebirds, a.k.a bluebird houses. The houses are built to specific dimensions, including the entry/exit hole sized to keep out sparrows and starlings. Bluebirds still face competition for those homes from Tree Sparrows, but the competition is not as fierce.

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Purple Martins arrive in New England

Contributed photo Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation at Connecticut Audubon, sets up the Purple Martin gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, April 14, 2014.

Contributed photo
Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation at Connecticut Audubon, sets up the Purple Martin gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, April 14, 2014.

It’s Purple Martin season in New England! Last week I ran into David Winston and Patrick Duggan putting up the Purple Martin gourds at Cove Island Park in Stamford. On Monday, after finishing my volunteer Piping Plover monitoring duties at the Coastal Center at Milford Point (CT), I ran into Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon putting up the gourds there.

Purple Martin at Cove Island in Stamford.

Purple Martin at Cove Island in Stamford.

The Purple Martins had already arrived and many perched on the poles as Milan worked underneath to get the gourds ready. I even got my hands dirty and helped him out a bit (of course, he was nearly done by the time I got there.)

Purple Martins will return to the same site year after year, so if you were successful in getting Purple Martins last year, get your gourds or houses up soon. If you were not successful last year, or are trying for the first time this year, you can get the houses up now, or wait a few weeks. Younger birds seeking to start a new colony will arrive throughout the next several weeks, or even months. Just keep an eye on the gourds or houses for House Sparrows. Remove the nests if House Sparrows take up residence.

I’m far from an expert in attracting Purple Martins, so for more detailed information about Purple Martins, I’ll refer you to this site: http://www.purplemartin.org/

Thanks for visiting http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

Mourning Dove sitting on nest

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

I came across the Mourning Dove during a quick walk through Oystershell Park in Norwalk, Conn., this morning. Yes, despite the late start to spring weather, the birds are right on time with their nesting.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Check out the camouflage nature of this nest. The tangled, twisted sticks and vines are colored similarly to the dove itself. Amazing that birds can do these things. I did not approach too closely and allowed the bird to remain comfortable on its nest.

Have a bird nesting on your property? Grab a photo and send it along. I’ll use it on my “reader submitted photo” page. Remember to give the birds space and not to be intrusive — they have an important job to do. Send photos to bozclark@earthlink.net

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Plant native trees, shrubs, flowers for the birds

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee eats a crab apple during a cold winter day at Weed Beach in Darien, CT., Jan. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee eats a crab apple during a cold winter day at Weed Beach in Darien, CT., Jan. 2014.

I’m far from a landscaping expert. Anyone who has seen my jungle of a garden in the summer can attest to that. But I do know that using native trees, shrubs, bushes and flowers are the way to go.

Whether they are planted with the intent to attract birds or not, using plantings that are native to your area reduces the risk of potentially using an invasive exotic species that will eventually overtake native species. It also is better for the native insect population because in many cases the insects can not feed off the non-native plants, thereby reducing the number of insects that serve as valuable food for birds. Reducing the number of insects may sound like a good thing at first, but we’re not talking about pest insects such as mosquitoes, we’re talking about insects that you probably never see, but have high value to birds.

There are a million other reasons to use native plantings and a million great options for doing so. Again, I’m not a landscaping expect, but a simple internet search of “planting native species [enter your state here]” will lead you in the right direction.

Quickly though, here are a few suggestions of native plants that have worked well for me – coneflower [great for goldfinches and other small birds], black-eyed susan, crab apple, sunflowers, and bee balm.

Feel free to comment below to say which native plants work well for you in regards to attracting birds.

Thanks for visiting http://www.Birdsofnewengland.com