Jackson County members of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin fledged 1,650 bluebirds this year that were in more than 400 bluebird boxes placed around the county.
Wisconsin is first in the U.S. for fledging bluebirds, and Jackson County is typically within the top five in the state for the number of fledges recorded.
Members said Jackson County has excellent habitat for bluebirds and that having good people monitoring the birds helps as well.
They also said that in large cities, the monitors have to drive a long distance to get to good habitat. In Jackson County trails are set up as close to the monitor’s homes as possible.
In the last seven years, members have fledged 12,546 bluebirds with an average of 1,792 per year in Jackson County, which is an average of 412 houses for a ratio of 4.35 bluebirds per house. Not only do the bird houses fledge bluebirds, but also tree swallows, wrens and chickadees.
The 2017 Jackson Co. Bluebird monitors are Larry Casper, Andy Chickoski (Badger Mining), Darrel and Marilyn Eberhardt, Sheryl Gilbertson, Jim Johnson, Greg Krueger, Bud Klepps, Darlene Neisner, Bill Schapfel and from Buffalo County, Marcel Kulas, Bruce Schaffner and Matt Wolfe. Badger Mining is one of the few corporate sponsors of BRAW.
If you think that being a monitor only involves setting up houses and that’s it, you would be in for a surprise. There are a lot of problems that face bluebirds and their houses.
House sparrows are a big problem when bird houses are set up too close to a working farm. Cracked and ground corn, as well as bird seed mixtures bought from stores that have cracked or ground corn in them, are put into bird feeders and attract house sparrows, which kill bluebirds and other songbirds. Black flies are also a problem as well as raccoon and cats, but protective guards can usually keep them at bay.
When starting up as a monitor, the wood and posts for the bird houses are provided by BRAW free of charge as long as the bird houses are assembled, monitored and statistics are sent into the state.
The monitors in prior years have been recognized for their efforts. In 2010, the late Dolores Iliff of Black River Falls and in 2016 Darrel Eberhardt of Hixton were BRAW Monitors of the Year for the State of Wisconsin.
In the last three years, Larry Casper has fledged 986 bluebirds and in 2015 and 2016 Greg Krueger of Hixton was the top monitor in Jackson County, fledging an average of 7.3 bluebirds per house.
Darrel Eberhardt said that various shrubs and trees that can be planted are good for bluebirds and other songbirds. He said that Red Osier Dogwood, Sargent Crabapple, Service Berry Tree and Red Jade Crabapple are excellent. Other trees that are good include the Silky Dogwood, Arrowwood and Blue Muffin Viborium, Red Splendor and Red Jewell Crabapple and Russian Mountain Ash.
“These shrubs and trees not only look pleasing, but bear high-volume berries. Remember to fertilize a little and water as needed to keep them stress free. Enjoy the song birds,” Eberhardt said.