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I’m told we’re having typical March weather–one day its snowing and the next its 50 degrees and sunny.  But it must be spring because I’ve seen mountain bluebirds.  The previous owners built nesting boxes and put them all around.  I decided to check all the boxes, fix them up and clean them out.

I’m not a very good birder.  For some reason, bird identification is really hard for me.  I’ve done lots of walks with birders, looked at the books, listened to tapes, but I just can’t remember most birds.  Plants I only have to see once and then I’ll remember their latin and common name.  But birds are just hard for me.

I assumed that I should clean out the boxes.  There’s at least a dozen or more old boxes on the property.  I knocked the tops off to clean them, and most needed repairing.  Sure enough, when I opened them up, all were filled to the brim with twigs and nesting materials.  In one I found 2 perfect small eggs that never had hatched.

Since two boxes completely disintegrated, I decided that I was going to make replacements.  I got a plan online from the American Bluebird Society, complete with materials list and to-scale drawings.   I bought some cedar in town, and began my project with excitement.

I like carpentry and also don’t really know what I’m doing, so of course, I didn’t quite read the measurements right.  I saw the 5 1/2″ wide and assumed that every side was 5 1/2″s.  Nope, some were 7 1/4″.  My birdhouse is full of improvisions and fudging, but it didn’t come out too bad, especially for a first time carpenter.  Making the cuts with the power saw and putting something together from scratch made me feel ‘powerful’, the illusion of a self-sufficient woman.  The good thing about my birdhouse is that I can open the lid as its only attached by wires.  That way I can view the nesting process. My new deluxe box.  Not bad for an amateur carpenter!

But here’s the bad thing:  I don’t really like the birdhouse.  Its so big compared to the rustic ones that came with the house.  Even though I made it to the “professionally advised mountain bluebird specs”, its just so big and clunky.  The ones already here are funky, falling apart, have different sized holes, have pencils for perches (you’re not even supposed to have perches!), are small, but the bluebirds LOVE them!  They fill up every year; even though they’re not kosher homes.Funky houses that came with the property

So instead of making more of these ‘trophy’ homes, I found scrap pieces and fixed up the old ones best I could.  It wasn’t easy, because everytime you put a nail in, you risked the box falling to pieces.  These nest boxes were on the verge of disintegration.  In fact, one of the worst looking boxes is the most beloved of the birds.  Instead of the hole being 1 9/16″ like the drawing says, this hole has been pecked over and over again with the years so it’s 2 1/2″ wide.  There is no roof overhang and the side has a big air hole in it.  I fixed it up with scraps here and there, so at least the breeze wasn’t a gale inside and I put on a roof with an overhang.  They love the funk!

I like my bluebird ‘shanty town’.  In these hard economic times, I think the bluebirds have the right approach.  They don’t need much, they reuse, don’t really care what it looks like, and seem happy enough with the cramped quarters.  I’ll just bet that all my old boxes are filled soon. I’m not so certain about the new deluxe model.

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