Updated: Jan 9
It's such a beautiful sight to see the lovely bluebirds in the stark winter landscape. They are one of our year-round residents, sometimes moving slightly south of their favorite nesting areas, and bunching together in old nest boxes for warmth and protection. Their simple needs are water, food and shelter. They will begin to look for nesting sites by mid February. Used birdhouses should be cleaned of old nesting materials which may contain insects and other organisms detrimental to baby birds. It's against Federal law to possess wild bird nests, so dispose of the material in the woods or stream bank. Wash hands well after the clean-up.
At Frog Quarters we provide a drawing of a nice simple bluebird house that would be fun for you to make with your children or grandchildren. It would be educational for them to observe the occupation and nesting habits of the parent birds, and the hatching of the young. First flight day is something to be remembered. Fledged birds usually do not return to the nest.
Put your new nest box in an open area near a field and only 5 to 8 feet high.
Don't be discouraged if the chickadees take over the first year. They need homes, too.
Be sure and leave the nest alone after fledging, as parent birds will usually begin a second and possible later on a third clutch in the same nest. They are usually done by September.
Mid winter is a great time to help with either of the two US bird counts that take place. The first is the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count running from December 14 th to January 5 th . Experts lead groups in official counts at 30 sites each year. This year is the 109 th bird count. At the Carolina Bird Count web site you can contact local organizers if you want to participate or see the results on-line. As of Thursday the 25 th over seven million birds had officially been counted. Information collected from these counts help wildlife managers determine things such as waterfowl hunting limits and possible protections needed for eagles, hawks, owls or endangered song birds.
The second count is promoted by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell (University) Lab of Ornithology. This is called the Great Backyard Bird Count (on-line) and occurs during February 13 th to 16 th this year. North Carolina participants numbered second last year. Maybe your participation could make us first! Go to the on-line site for details and join in the backyard (or a favorite site along the Greenway) bird count.
We have recently placed a couple of garbage cans labeled for recycling at Big Bear shelter. You can all help to reduce the amount of waste that is generated there by placing your aluminum cans and plastic or glass drink bottles in these containers. This also saves us on the expense of waste garbage bags. We have a dedicated volunteer who checks the cans and takes them to the recycling center. If caps are removed and any liquid left is poured out it makes the job less messy. Thanks for your help in recycling these reusable minerals and petro chemicals.
At Frog Quarters we still have a few eyeglasses, car keys and bits of jewelry left over from the summer crowd. If you lost anything like this, stop in and see if we have it. Car keys, especially, are expensive to replace.
We hope that you have noticed the new pedestrian cross walk that DOT has installed for the Greenway travelers at the end of East Main St. bridge. The yellow diamond-shaped walker signs indicate that vehicles are supposed to stop and give right of way to pedestrians, but I haven't seen that happening very often.
Non-the-less most drivers are a bit more cautious, and maybe they'll learn!
Remember that presently the Greenway is over four and one-half miles long, and there are at least 7 vehicle entry points: Suli Marsh, Big Bear Park, Frog Quarters, behind East Franklin Mall, Salali Lane off Highlands Road at the Flea Market, Tassee Park and at the Macon County Library. Bathrooms are at Big Bear, Frog Quarters, Tassee, and the library.
Portajohns could be installed at the more isolated areas if it weren't for the probability of vandalism. (Next week we hope to have information on the two boys responsible for some of the GreenwayAll this trail information will be found on the Greenway brochure and map available at Frog Quarters, at spots along the trail, and at the bulletin boards at Big Bear and Tassee. As more local doctors recognize the value of walking and prescribe it to their patients we should see much improvement in the health of our community over the coming years. It certainly is one of the least expensive forms of exercise and one can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while doing it.
An article in the USA Today magazine in the Citizen-Times of November 30 th spoke of a study of 5000 female school children kindergarten through 5 th grade. The study showed consistently higher test scores when they participated in from 70 to 300 minutes of physical education a week. They also seemed to do better on homework assignments. Perhaps this is, also, a partial solution to the current spate of overweight children so much in the news today.
The League of Women Voters will have a speaker from Placemakers, a national design group specializing in walkable communities on Thurs. December 11 th at 12:15. North Carolina seems to be in the forefront of innovative action for sustainable development and green building. Let's help keep the momentum going.