My oh my, what a wonderful day,
Plenty of sunshine headed my way
Mr. Bluebird’s on my shoulder.
When this song was penned in 1946, bluebirds were in danger. Insecticides and housing were the main reasons. The ban on DDT was a big help. But for now, let’s stay on bluebirds and housing.
Farmers had started replacing old fence posts with metal ones. It made sense to them. However, bluebirds are cavity nesters. Where were these sweet birds to nest and raise a family?
Three species of bluebirds nest in the United States. There are two that live in the west. There is a Western Bluebird that lives from California up to Washington state. It is a bit darker blue. This blue is a hood over the head spilling down its back. It does have a beautiful peachy-rose breast with a lovely white belly. The true bluebird of the west is the Mountain Bluebird. This bluebird lacks a peachy breast. It is a uniformly powdered bluebird.
But in the song, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” it is our Eastern bluebird. It is sky blue on its head, neck, and back. The throat, breast, and belly are the peachy-rose. It sits proudly upright on the powerlines and sings its sweet song.
These bluebirds are real comeback kids. In the 1960s, people became alarmed. We were losing bluebirds. Would we just let these birds fade away? Bluebird clubs formed and created rows of wooden bluebird boxes. They were monitoring the bluebird boxes during the nesting season to ensure nesting success. And the bluebirds came back.
Jekyll Island has a unique bluebird trail. To receive the label of Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certification for the golf courses, Jekyll residents built and put up red bluebird houses as a marker on each tee. Every year, hardworking volunteers go out to each tee and check the boxes. They record bluebirds’ successes or failures and send the data to the director of conservation. I am happy to report the bluebirds are doing great!
The standard bluebird house is five and a half inches wide and at least 11 inches deep. It must open on one side so it can be cleaned out between nesting seasons. The entrance hole is to be an inch and a half wide. The house is to be white or natural wood. These are placed on poles about six feet off the ground with a baffle to keep out snakes. These are standards, but bluebirds don’t care. I had a friend who did everything according to the standards, but her bluebirds chose a tiny, brightly colored box to nest. They did fine. So, when the idea of a trail of red bluebird houses on Jekyll’s three golf courses came up, I thought, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Ay, My oh my, what a wonderful day, Plenty of sunshine headed my way.”
Why? Because we have bluebirds in the Golden Isles.