Bluebirds in danger

Dear Editor:Bluebirds are beautiful but they are seldom seen partly because they are "cavity-nesters" that prefer to build a nest in a cavity such as those made by woodpeckers. Natural cavities are rare since trees are quickly cut down. Farmers and ranchers used to use wood poles for fencing, now they use metal so there are fewer natural cavities available to the bluebird. House sparrows are also a major problem. They invade bluebird nests and kill the birds, plus break their eggs. Bluebirds need our help. Another bluebird fan in Downey, Randy Renner, and I have placed several nesting boxes in trees around town for this wonderful bird. In a park along the Rio San Gabriel River one of boxes currently has young birds nesting. If we are lucky, in a few weeks bluebirds will once again be in Downey. Bluebirds and humans have always had a special relationship. Native Americans hung up dry gourds to encourage bluebirds to nest near their settlements and the earliest European settlers welcomed bluebirds to their fields and yards just as enthusiastically. Bluebirds have become the very symbol of happiness because they bring joy to the onlooker. In the early 1900s Maurice Maeterlinck wrote a fairytale play about two children who searched for the "blue bird of happiness," only to find after many adventures that it has been in their own backyard all along. By building, hanging and monitoring these easy to make nesting boxes, we can soon have this beautiful bluebird back in our yards. After World War II, the tenor Jan Peerce made "Bluebird of Happiness" a nationwide hit; the lyrics promised "Life is sweet, tender and complete when you find the bluebird of happiness." Bluebirds urgently need our help! Byron Dillon Downey

********** Published: May 31, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 07