Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Fore the Bluebirds

Visitors to DeKorte Park are always in awe of the Tree Swallows that have become a symbol of a rejuvenated and revived Meadowlands. But what many folks may not know about these little metallic blue dynamos is that their life and future generations depends on the tiny wooden nest boxes that you see standing along the waters edge throughout the Meadowlands.

No manmade swallow boxes, no more Tree Swallows. That is the reality of this great migratory bird . But there is another bird much less common which is also blue that raises an even a bigger challenge to help bring back to our area: the Eastern Bluebird.

Eastern Bluebird populations took it on the chin in the early Twentieth century as aggressive introduced species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows took over available nest holes. Add that sad situation to the devasting loss of bluebird habitat such as open fields and meadows and the bluebird population was devastated.

Since then many good folks have set up bluebird nest box trails around the country, helping the Eastern Bluebird population make a comeback. But in our area its been a lot tougher and challenging.

Besides the competition of invasive House Sparrows and Starlings we have seen a distressing loss of bluebird habitat. Bluebirds like to live in the same places we love to build things most, big open natural meadows and old agricultural field. Places for the most part gone in the Bergen County area. But there was one underutilized place left that we thought might be able to lend a helping hand to our local bluebird population :Our county golf courses.

After having great success with nesting bluebirds at the New Jersey State Botanical Gardens in Ringwood and Campgaw in Mahwah  (thanks to BCAS volunteers Rich and Linda Greendyke), Bergen County Audubon thought it was about time we developed a project to try to help our bluebirds make a comeback.

So BCAS started a program called “Fore The Bluebirds” which is a mission  to place bluebird nest boxes at every county golf course possible to aid in their return.  This Spring, with the cooperation  of the Bergen County Parks director Jim Koth and Ron Subramaniam we placed bluebird boxes at Emerson, Orchard Hill and Rockleigh Golf courses with some great early successes!

As Chris Takacs, Bergen Audubon field trip director who has been leading  he project along with Jimmy Macaluso and of course Rich and Linda Greendyke reported, “Twenty minutes after putting up the boxes at Rockleigh golf course we had a Bluebird!”  Just as if they had been waiting for us to bring them a home the bluebirds were ther , eager, ready and willing to bring forth the next generation of Eastern Bluebirds.

This fall BCAS will continue the project to bring more homes to Bluebirds to our county courses and wherever we can in an attempt to have this iconic bird of happiness return to its ancestral home, a place where it belongs to live and thrive for future generations to enjoy.

We can all help our local bird populations such as Chickadees , wrens, woodpeckers and even owls by placing nest boxes in our own backyards , it’s the very least we can do to help our birds that fight so hard to survive everyday .

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