Amelia Island Plantation Blog

The Bluebird Project

Everyone needs a hobby, young and old alike. Hobbies engage us, they help build character and provide us with a sense of accomplishment. At the very least they give us a release from the stresses of everyday life. In his 1889 essay entitled, “The Pleasures of Fly Fishing,” W. Holberton writes, “A man without a hobby is a much-to-be-pitied individual.”

And perhaps one of the greatest things about having a hobby is that whatever your current interests are, it’s never too late to discover a new one. Just ask part time Amelia Island resident Candace Bridgewater.  A few years ago, Candace attended a meeting for the Amelia Island Plantation Garden Interest Group. However, on this particular day, the meeting didn’t revolve around green thumbery. Rather, that afternoon Candace listened to a man named Bill Pennewill talk passionately about Sialia siali or what is more commonly referred to as the Eastern Bluebird. As President of the Florida Bluebird Society, Mr. Pennewill has devoted much of his time to the conservation and protection of Bluebirds in the state of Florida. And apparently his efforts are working. Increased environmental awareness among the general public combined with years of research have resulted in a steady increase in the Eastern Bluebird population over the last decade…

 

Bluebird Hatchlings in a Nesting Box…

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Candace walked away from the Garden Interest Group that afternoon with her interest piqued. The seed had been planted and a new hobby was about to blossom. She went home that evening and began learning all she could about the Eastern Bluebird.

I asked Candace in a phone interview how one gets started with bluebirds. “Well, you build a bluebird box,” she replied enthusiastically. “And if you’re going to build one bluebird box, why not build 100!”

Bluebird nesting boxes have literally saved the species from extinction. As cavity-nesters, bluebirds had relied on old trees and wooden fence posts to construct their homes in the past. But due to modernization, the supply of natural nesting cavities for bluebirds has been greatly reduced. This, coupled with the introduction of the English House Sparrow to North America proved devastating to the bluebird population.

Bluebird lovers recognized that the bluebird was in trouble and began building more nest boxes along designated “bluebird trails” in the 1920’s. The concept quickly caught on and has proven to be a major factor in the survival of the bluebirds.

“It’s incredibly easy to do,” stated Candace. “By simply erecting the proper habitat, we’re giving the bluebird a chance to thrive. And we can easily document our success just by monitoring the boxes.”

 

image003In 2012, Candace and fellow Amelia Island Plantation resident Jean Middleton constructed their first bluebird box and placed it on property. A little over a month later, they were both surprised and delighted to find a bluebird nest at the site. That bluebird box successfully produced four hatchlings by the end of the year. Candace was absolutely elated that her hobby was beginning to take flight…

 

The following year she and her bluebird-loving friends installed an additional three nesting boxes around property. These four boxes combined produced an additional 36 bluebirds by the end of 2013. That’s about the time that Candace began noticing their distinctive call around property with a growing frequency.

It’s no wonder why Candace is really into her new hobby. After all, how many people can say that they help replenish the population of a species in their free time? That’s why Omni Amelia Island Plantation and the Amelia Island Plantation Community Association have teamed up with Candace to ensure the continued success of the expanding bluebird population. And with a growing bluebird trail, eight boxes currently installed around property and community members who are equally as passionate about their bluebirds as Candace is, you could say this hobby has legs…or wings for that matter.

 

Want to learn more about the Eastern Bluebird? Check out the following links…

 

All About Birds: The Eastern Bluebird

The Florida Bluebird Society

Getting Started with Bluebirds

 

 

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