From winter blues to spring bluebirds at Mashomack

BILL ZITEK PHOTO
Hungry chicks with mouths agape wait for parents to return to the nest with food.

Throughout the winter, hikers at Mashomack Preserve have come back to the Visitor Center exclaiming, “Could I have seen a bluebird out in the fields?” 

The answer is yes! A few of New York’s state birds do stick around during the cold weather, eating fruits and berries instead of the normal insect diet of the warmer months.

Now that the days are getting longer, like many things in nature, bluebirds are beginning to think about pairing up. Starting as early as April bluebirds will be selecting nesting sites and partners and begin to mate.

At Mashomack volunteers have monitored this activity since 2001 through its Nestbox Project. Weekly forays into the fields document the nest building, egg laying and the hatching of young birds. Over the 18-year study, 680 bluebirds have fledged (successfully flown from the nest), along with 1,593 of their like-minded neighbors, the tree swallows. 

In 2018 alone, the Preserve witnessed the fledging of 69 bluebirds and 92 tree swallows. 

Linda Hacker is now the lead volunteer for this long-running work. The team at the Preserve is gearing up for the 2019 season and are inviting any interested bird lovers to come on Saturday March 23, from 4 to 5 p.m. for an overview of the project and see how to get involved. 

Call (631) 749-4219 for more information and learn how you can enjoy truck tours of Mashomack Preserve while experiencing genuinely breathtaking, only-in-nature moments and contributing to a long term scientific study. ​

BY CINDY BELT

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