Just before our family moved from Idaho, our daughter attended church camp at Pilgrim Cove, Idaho’s camp on the shores of Payette Lake near McCall. The camp was led by our family friend, Rev. Susan Howe and she had a wonderful time, as we knew she would. Among the crafts for the week was building bluebird houses. The Mountain Blue Bird is the state bird of Idaho and a member of our church in Idaho had researched how to make bluebird houses and cut the pieces out of cedar that were assembled by the campers. One of the things he found out is that blue birds next in a place with a certain size of hole for the entrance, so he carefully drilled holes that would be the right size. Some of the bluebird houses were mounted on trees around the camp. Others were brought home by the campers. Our daughter brought home a bluebird house. Since we were moving, it was decided that the house would make the move with us to South Dakota.
I mounted the house in a tree that we could easily see from the back door of our new home and we waited. No bluebirds arrived that first summer. We didn’t worry. We had occasionally seen a lone bluebird in the area and figured that we were high enough in the hills for a nesting pair to find the house. The house went empty for two or three years before one day we noticed a pair in the area. The first thing they did when they moved into the house to build their nest, was to enlarge the hole. They packed around the hole until it was significantly larger. So much for the research about what size hole bluebirds want in their houses.
In the years since, we’ve had bluebirds nest in the house many times. We don’t have bluebirds every year, and some years we’ve had other small birds nest in the house, but we’ve often had the joy of watching the blue birds working hard to provide for their young ones before the fledge. Bluebirds work as a couple with both the male and female going back and forth with food for the babies. Often we will see one perching near the nest, waiting for the made to live the nest. As soon as she leaves, he arrives and vice versa. It is a continual process of going for food and returning.
This week after returning from our trip to Washington, I’ve been working on preparing our deck to be stained, so I’ve been outside on that side of the house quite a bit and sure enough there are bluebirds nesting in the house this year. It is fun to watch them doing their work as I do mine. Last night I decided to try to get a few pictures, but they had slowed their activities in the evening and I wasn’t patient enough to get images of the more showy male. I did, however capture a few images of the female as she went in and out of the house. I’ll keep my camera handy today, but I’m not the neatest of painters, so I probably won’t try to use it once I’ve opened up the cans of stain for the deck.
It is really nice that we have a pair of bluebirds for our last summer in this house. This has been a really wonderful home for our family, and our young ones have now fledged and have gone off to make nests of their own. The house is such a great place for children and families that it is appropriate that we move on to a smaller place and make room for a new family. Over the years we’ve changed the place a bit. We haven’t enlarged any entrances, but we’ve pained rooms and changed flooring and really enjoyed living in this home. Our back deck was the place of graduation parties and family reunions and gatherings of all types. Our table has welcomes guests from around the world. And we have spent countless hours watching the deer and turkeys and other wild birds who are our neighbors. We were traveling when the deer had their babies this year, but last night we saw a pair of twins in the yard, which was for us the first signing of fawns this year. We’ll see them nearly every evening now.
Things are already beginning to move from our house. We’ve taken a few boxes to Good Will and there will be other items for Love, Inc., the Salvation Army, Cornerstone Thrift Store and other agencies in our town who recycle items and help those in need. There will also be a few more items for the garbage pickup and a few trips to the landfill. And, in time, we’ll move furniture and other items into a moving truck for the trip west. The bluebird house, however, will be staying. It is heading into its 26th autumn and winter outside. The cedar has weathered so that not much of the paint that our daughter put on the house remains, but cedar is slow to deteriorate and it will be a part of that tree for decades yet to come. As much as we are enjoying the nesting bluebirds this year and as eager as we are to watch the little ones fledge, what I really hope for the house is that it will attract a nesting pair next year so that whoever becomes the new owners of the house will have the joys of watching the birds.
This home has sheltered us in some pretty dramatic storms. The thundershower that passed overhead last night dropped a lot of rain in a short time, but wasn’t one of the memorable storms like the blizzards and hail storms and other dramatic weather events that we sometimes see. Through it all the house has been a secure place to live. We’ve enjoyed its gathering spaces and bedrooms and a lot of meals have been served from its kitchen. But one of the house’s greatest features is its location. We have a large yard and lots of room for birds and animals who are our neighbors. I hope the new owners enjoy the outside spaces as much as we have.