It hasn’t been long ago that the bluebird population was in trouble. Because of the efforts of the members of Bluebirds Across Nebraska, bluebirds are once again thriving in Nebraska. We need to remain vigilant however. Without the continued help from people, bluebirds may not survive.
As members of a conservation group, we should pass on to the children in our lives a respect for nature. By becoming a participant in the TAK-Along Project, you will be passing on a legacy of love for bluebirds and nature in general.
Participants in the TAK-Along Project must be members of Bluebirds Across Nebraska and are required to take the following pledge:
I pledge to take a child (son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew, neighbor’s or friend’s child, etc.) along with me to monitor my bluebird trail as often as possible during the nesting season. I promise to explain to this child the importance and value of monitoring a bluebird trail. I will plant a seed of love for bluebirds and nature in this child’s mind and nurture that seed in the hopes that this child will someday follow in my footsteps.
It is hoped that you and your child will want to continue monitoring your trail together in future years. We will ask that you fill out a registration form each year that you wish to participate with your child. The registration form will appear in the spring BANners.
PURCHASE TAK-ALONG SUPPLIES
For a fee of $10 (plus $6 for postage),your child will receive the following:
- Bluebird Rescue (A child’s book on bluebirds)
- The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
- Spiral notebook to keep trail records
- Pen to record notes
- Fanny pack to carry trail supplies
It is not necessary to purchase these items to participate in the TAK-Along Project but it is suggested to make the activity more successful.
For a fee of $10 (plus $6 for postage), your child will receive the following: (It is not necessary to purchase these items to participate in the TAK-Along Project but it is suggested to make the activity more successful.)
Bluebird Rescue (A child’s book on bluebirds)
The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
Spiral notebook to keep trail records
Pen to record notes
Fanny pack to carry trail supplies
At the end of the bluebird nesting season, your feedback is requested. Please send an account of your TAK-Along activities. This could be in the form of a story (written either by you or your child), a photo, or a drawing your child has created. These items should be mailed to BAN, P.O. Box 67157, Lincoln, NE 68506-7157 or e-mailed to email@example.com. Many of these accounts will be featured in future BANners. Anyone sending a report on their TAK-Along fun will have their child’s name entered in a drawing for a pair of children’s binoculars.
Suggestions for a fun and successful teaching opportunity:
As you are Taking A Kid Along tell them the story of bluebirds. Explain to your child how important humans are in the lives of bluebirds. Answer their questions but don’t try to teach them everything about bluebirds in one outing. This is one reason it is a good idea to be able to Take A Kid Along several times during the nesting season.
If your bluebird trail has many nesting boxes, consider Taking A Kid Along on just part of your trail. If the child is very young, it might be a good idea to let the child take “ownership” of one or two boxes that have been successful for you in the past. They could keep records on just those boxes so that the whole process would not become overwhelming to them.
Take A Kid Along when you have plenty of time. Children can move at a slower pace than adults. They like to stop and look at every little thing they find. Encourage this natural wonder in your child by talking to them about the treasures they find.
When you Take A Kid Along, don’t limit yourself to just bluebirds. Point out to the child the different things in nature that are all around them. Most children love bugs, birds, frogs and fish. They are curious about the buds, flowers, leaves, berries, and nuts that are on plants, trees and shrubs. Take the opportunity to help them develop a love for all things in nature.
The most important thing is to have fun with your child. Having a good experience will encourage your child to want to go again. For the sake of our beloved bluebirds, we need our children to carry on for us when we are no longer able.
E-mail any questions you may have regarding the TAK-Along Project to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Sandy Seibert at 402-334-8691.
Take a hand, Open a mind, Touch a heart.
TAK-ALONG PROJECT GUIDELINES
The goal of this project is to plant a seed of love for bluebirds and all of nature in the minds of our children, nurture it and watch it come to fruition as the children become adults. In the words of Dr. Lawrence Zeleny, founder of the North America Bluebird Society, “Bluebirds are well on their way to complete dependence on our help if they are going to survive. With enough effort from us, they can make it. It’s entirely up to us whether America’s favorite bird will live or become only a memory like the passenger pigeon.” It is also up to us to inspire and train the next generation to take up the crusade of helping this beautiful species of birds. Thank you for becoming involved in this project.
The following are guidelines that should be used to help make the project a success.
Since children of all ages will be participating in this project, it is up to each individual participant to decide what your child will be able to comprehend. Listed here are some things you should discuss with your child at the level they will understand. While you are walking your trail, it should be easy to bring up these topics, however, do not try to discuss everything in one outing.
Reasons for decline in bluebird population:
Loss of habitat
Introduction of non-native house sparrows and European starlings
Habitat needed for nesting bluebirds
Open, grassy (preferably short grass) areas with a few scattered trees where pesticides are not used
Away from brushy, treed areas (house wren territory)
Away from barns and buildings, especially buildings where grain is stored (house sparrow territory)
Importance of monitoring nest boxes
Protecting the birds from predators, pests, and competitors
Making sure everything goes as it should during the nesting season
The self-satisfaction of helping a species survive
Importance of keeping records
Know what to expect on next visit
Know when eggs were laid, when they hatched, and when to stop opening box
Know when a box is unproductive and should be moved
Know when a box is having a continual problem that cannot be solved and should be moved
You should also teach your child how to physically monitor a nest box. If your child is very young, he/she may not be able to do all of these things.
Talk in a normal voice while approaching the box to alert an adult bird of your presence.
Gently tap on the side of the nest box as a further warning.
Slowly open the box and check the activity in the box.
Record your findings.
Is there a start of a nest or a complete nest?
What species is building the nest?
# of eggs laid
# of eggs hatched
# of nestlings
Do not touch eggs or nestlings unless necessary to take care of a problem.
Take care of any problems such as:
Adding a predator guard
Removing ants, wasps, or mice nests
Removing house sparrow nests or house wren sticks (completed house wren nests are protected by law)
Pairing nest boxes if tree swallows are starting to nest
Repair the box if damaged
Securely close the box.
Record any problems and/or actions taken.
While monitoring the trail, don’t limit yourself to just bluebirds. Point out to the child the different things in nature that are all around them. Most children love bugs, birds, animals, frogs and fish. They are curious about buds, flowers, leaves, berries, and nuts. Take the opportunity to help them develop a love for all things in nature.
One of the most important things to remember is to have fun with your child. Make it an experience they will be anxious to repeat.