Press-Republican

Environment

April 5, 2014

Early bluebird experience captures nature lover for life

PLATTSBURGH — His love of bluebirds began as a boy, when his father helped him make his first nest box. 

Now, John Rogers is visiting Plattsburgh to share his expert knowledge of these colorful creatures.

He still remembers the family of bluebirds that came to live in that first nest box when he was 10 years old or so. 

“The beauty of the bluebirds captured my fascination as a youngster.”

Over the years, Rogers has maintained a trail of bluebird nest boxes near his home in central New York. He has “fledged” more than 13,000 bluebirds, monitoring them from the time they hatch to the time they leave the nest. 

Rogers is also a co-founder of the New York State Bluebird Society.

PREDATOR BAFFLE

At times, his work has led to some surprising experiences. 

“I once opened a nest box and had a flying squirrel jump out and hit me in the shoulder,” he said. “I can still remember that.” 

To avoid such surprises, Rogers said, do not place nest boxes too close to wooded areas. The ideal habitat for bluebirds is open to semi-open rural country, with short vegetation like mown lawn. 

“A good-size lawn with a scattering of trees, away from dense woods” is the kind of environment where bluebirds thrive, he said.

It is also important to place the nest boxes on metal poles. Putting them on trees might seem easy to do, but it also makes it easy for predators, like cats and raccoons, to get at the nests.

For further protection, Rogers recommends putting a “predator baffle” on the metal pole. 

A baffle is made with a 2-inch length of 9-inch stovepipe, connected lengthwise to the pole. 

‘NO TOUCHING’

Once a family of bluebirds occupies a nest box, Rogers suggests checking on them once a week — “quickly and quietly, with no touching.” 

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