Bluebird Lover Thwarts Snakes, Raccoon Predators

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bluebird expert Bill Abbey came by last week, reporting on his latest season at Tanglewood Park, his best of the past 10 years.
Bluebirds have no better friend than Bill Abbey. He has been their advocate for 30 years.
He patrols 43 boxes in the park, keeping an eye out for the bluebirds. By his count, the boxes sheltered 227 babies that successfully hatched and took flight.
Bluebirds can have three nests in spring and summer with four or five eggs at a time.
With that kind of reproduction, we should have bluebirds everywhere.
Alas, others are also interested in bluebirds. Snakes, cats, raccoons, squirrels and even other birds will invade the nests with malicious intent. Even curious humans can poke about the nests too much. To thwart predators, Abbey has a host of defenses to help his birds. He puts the boxes on PVC pipe to keep raccoons from climbing up. He coats the ground in sharp nut hulls to make them uncomfortable. And lately he has attached a curious plastic extension device to make it harder for a raccoon to reach in and help himself to bluebird eggs. Careful placement of the boxes is vital to success, he says.
He has a delightful, rewarding hobby, and he’s eager to encourage others to put up a bluebird box.

Pigweed Pull
Isn’t For Those
With Weak Backs

For Labor Day, young Michael and I had an old-fashioned pigweed pull — an event that never got the same favorable press as quilting bees. Pigweed pulls are for those with strong backs and able to bend easily.
On Tuesday, I had trouble standing erect, and I hurt in many and varied places. But we put a dent in the pigweed population in my dad’s cow pasture. Only a dent. I saw thousands of sprigs of the tiny late summer plants that are about to spring forth.
Spring, almost literally. The weed can grow five inches in a few days …