Hurricane Sandy is slowly fading out and trick or treaters are likely home and in bed. I have had an up and down week but by far one of the highlights was a project that I carried out through my work with the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee. We recently started going out to interest groups with the information and materials to build bird and duck boxes.
Watching kids get excited about being able to use a drill or screw driver is cool. Seeing the difference from one child to another is eye opening to how people's personalities and growth vary greatly. Watching the pride they have when they complete the bird box and how they make a concerted effort to sign their name to their project is also rewarding as you know from the glow on their faces that they will likely remember the activity for sometime.
Bird houses are relatively an easy building project which makes it ideal for young kids but adults can enjoy such a project as well. Most adults would take the time to place the box and watch the subtle excitement as birds move in and out. No doubt an adult would place his box before the March breeding season to increase the likely hood it will get utilized. They'll take the time to put it up on a nice pole to deter predators and place the pole along a tree line looking out over a pasture near their home. Close to home is important, otherwise how would you watch it?
March is cold here in New Brunswick and many birds are known to use bird boxes. Properly placed ventilation holes keep the birds from suffocating in the box. They also reduce the risk of mould and bacteria buildup. Make sure the entry hole isn't that big and contrary to you might think, a perch at the entry is not a good idea. Why? Predators could sit on the perch and reach in and have a snack while smiling back at you. That would be unfortunate and hard to explain to the kids who were watching from two doors down.
The unmistakable cry of the blue jay and the cheery chirp of the chickadee brighten any day, even a cold day in March. When you look at a bird up close they almost look like a cartoon and how can't you smile when reading a cartoon strip. Their tiny feet and knobby legs hold their light bodies onto a limb while the wind is blowing hard. Their feathers keep them warm while a late April snowfall chills us enough to keep the heat on in the house another week or more.
Such resilient animals deserve our respect and our hospitality. They keep insects in check, pollinate our food crops, give their life for food, and entertain us. I think if we had to travel hundreds of miles we'd like to stay in a hotel instead of on the streets so a bird box is a great gesture to such an important part of our existence.
I want to acknowledge our veterans as well. With Remembrance Day around the corner it is important that we all take the time to reach out to our Troops and thank them.