LITTLE ROCK – Join the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center at 1 p.m., Feb. 4, and learn how you can bring some of the most colorful cast members of the outdoors to your backyard.
Neil Curry, nature center manager for the AGFC will lead the workshop and offer some of the insights he’s learned in his 40 years teaching people about the outdoors. He says learning a little about what makes a bluebird tick is the key to getting them to come to your home.
“Some people will put up a birdhouse but never get a bluebird because they don’t have the right type of habitat near the house,” Curry said. “We’ll go over the species we have in Arkansas, where you find them, what they eat and all their basic biology. We’ll also cover things people can do to increase bluebird habitat, like leaving low branches on trees and planting certain types of plants.”
Of course, one of the most popular activities in attracting bluebirds is building and placing houses for them to nest in, and workshop participants will have the opportunity to build a bluebird box they can bring home with them for free.
Curry says that just as with other cavity nesters, bluebirds can definitely benefit from a little help offered by people.
“Rotted stumps and wooden fence posts that used to be available have been cleared from the landscape and replaced by metal fencing,” Curry said. “Even that single change can make a difference in available habitat for the bluebird.”
Participants will learn types of birdhouses that benefit bluebirds and some of the most common mistakes people make when setting up a house.
“A lot of people think a birdhouse is supposed to have a perch on it because that’s what they see in drawings, but you don’t want that with a bluebird house,” Curry said. “They don’t need a perch and it will increase the chances of invasive English sparrows taking over the house.”
Attracting bluebirds offers additional benefits to homeowners. Many people find it exciting to follow along as they nest, lay eggs and hatch chicks. Other people like having these natural-born insect eaters around to help with pest control near their gardens instead of insecticides.
All materials to build bluebird boxes will be provided, and instructors will help people one-on-one if needed to complete their project. They will also share some tips to get the birds started using the boxes.
“Last year we had one participant in the workshop call us and tell us they had bluebirds investigating their box within two days of setting it up,” Curry said. “They ended up getting to watch the bluebirds raise two broods of chicks that summer from the house they built at the nature center.”
The class is free, but registration is required and participation is limited, so register today. If the class is full, Curry says interested people can still come by the center for free birdhouse plans and tips to get started attracting these colorful characters to their land. Call 501-907-0636 to register.