Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ben Brzielke, A Bird Expert, Part II

Ben Brzielke, a bird expert here in Virginia told us that we need to clean out our dirty used bluebird birdhouses about two or three weeks after the baby birds have flown away from the nest. You need to do this because the baby bluebird nursery is a mess. Much like a human nursery that isn't picked up and cleaned. You can find food droppings, bird droppings,mites, tics, maggots, etc. So you need to scrub it down with dish soap and water. Then rinse with plain water from the garden hose.Let the door open for awhile so that the birdhouse dries out completely and doesn't get moldy. If you do that at the end of the nursery cycle, you can attract up to three sets of bluebirds to your birdhouse in one spring/summer season. Ben says attracting birds to your yard is hard work but the enjoyment the birds give you makes the efforts worthwhile.

Ben's favorite bird is the North Carolina wren who he says is as active as a Jack Russell terrier. They are always bouncing around doing something. Ben is intrigued by the activity of swallows too. Sometimes swallows will get mites and ticks on their bodies. When that happens they look for an anthill and roll in the dirt. When this happens the ants emit a chemical that clings to the swallows feathers and kills the mites and ticks. Isn't nature fascinating! By the way, I now know why I have lots of swallows. We have a big anthill underneath our pink dogwood tree in the far corner of our lot.

Here's three more bird tidbits we learned from Ben. First, the aggressive blue jay loves to plant acorns. He will never live long enough to see a tall tree grow from an acorn but he keeps on planting the acorns and doing God's work. Second, male chimney swifts are very devoted to the females sitting on the eggs. They will search for shiny objects and present these "gift" to their hardworking and long suffering mates sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. Third, hummingbirds when they arrive in your yard after their migration from the south are very, very thin. They have lost ounces during that long flight northward so they need protein to help gain back the weight that they lost. That is why they may not frequent your hummingbird feeder very much in the month of May. They need protein to gain weight so they are searching for and eating very tiny worms and bugs that have that protein. Later in June they will enjoy coming to your hummingbird feeder that has sugar water instead of protein ladened bugs and worms.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Fascinating information Joann. I learned a lot. Thank you :)