On August 16, 2014, over 80 bluebird enthusiasts attended the Florida Bluebird Society’s (FBS) annual meeting, held in Inverness, on Aug 16th, 2014.
Founding President, Bill Pennewill, opened the meeting with a brief history of FBS.
The attendees were then treated to guest speakers who one by one told their stories of trails, tributes, rescues, and studies.
Diane Otten, from Ft. Cooper State Park in Inverness, spoke about the Withlacoochee Trail. A railroad track at the turn of the last century has been has been transformed into a walking and biking trail that folks come from all over the world to enjoy. The trail spans 3 counties, and is dotted with bluebird nesting boxes built by Louis Nipper. This massive bluebird trail is monitored by FBS Board Member Louis Nipper, and FBS members Barney Barnhart, Chet Bennett, Henry Koelblinger, and Roger Williams.
Michelle Kline of HOPE Wildlife Rehabilitation, brought along a few beautiful feathered friends. Each bird had been rescued, but due to their injuries can never be released. They now “work” as animal ambassadors. She shared their stories, and spoke about what to do if you find an injured, sick, or orphaned animal.
Probably the saddest story was this screech owl. A well-meaning, but ill-informed person found the bird with an injured wing. Instead of immediately contacting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator they thought they could care for the bird and possibly keep it as a pet. After a short time they realized the bird was not doing well and finally contacted HOPE. The bird was badly malnourished, dehydrated, and it was too late to fix the injured wing.
Mike Kell told the story of West Pasco Audubon Society’s Bluebird Project which was started in 2009 by Ken Tracey in Jay B. Starkey Park. Unfortunately there are no records of the nest boxes being monitored. Mike became involved in 2012. The existing boxes were repaired or replaced, and the trail was expanded to Seven Springs Golf Course, Trinity College and Trinity Presbyterian Church property. The trial is now monitored and records are kept. Mike brought an example of the nest box they use.
Ken Custer shared the story of the genesis of his personal bond with bluebirds. He explained the process he followed to obtain permission to start a bluebird trail along the Suncoast Trail. The trail was started with nesting boxes donated by Louis Nipper. Ken also showed photos of some of the items he has developed to help bluebirds. We were all very impressed with the garden he designed as a tribute to his mother.
Dr. Katherine Sieving, Professor in the Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at of the University of Florida, shared the results of a nesting box study conducted this spring. The study compared Petersen style box versus Gilbertson style box. The results did not find a significant difference in preference between the two nest box styles. The study compared temperatures in the boxes. The temperatures were significantly higher in the aluminum wrapped Peterson boxes. Chick development was also monitored and compared. Bone structure was similar between the boxes, but a significant difference in feather development was documented. The flight feathers of the chicks fledging from the Peterson boxes not as large.
We thank all who attended the meeting, and look forward to seeing you at future FBS meetings.