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Photo by Tom Grey

Cavity Nesters Recovery Program (CNRP) Results

A Bluebird Trail Leader's Experience

by Dave Cook

It's a late summer afternoon, and I've worked a long day. But my birds are growing without me, and I must see how they are faring. So I make my way up Mt. Hamilton Road to Grant Ranch, where I monitor 30 nesting boxes scattered about the park.

I've been fortunate enough to have birded in faraway places, to feel the excitement of the chase. But nothing has come close to the satisfaction of really making a difference in the lives of birds.

By putting up and monitoring a nesting box, I become an intimate observer of their struggle for life and survival. I once again become a caretaker of new lives; but, instead of development taking years as in the case of my children, it unfolds and concludes in three weeks.

I have observed their first few moments of life outside the egg: trembling, featherless, blind. And I have exulted at the fledging: A young bird poised to fly...ready, but not ready. Then, responding to some secret signal, it flies!

I also see the dedication of the bluebird and swallow parents, their vigilance, their tireless efforts to feed and protect. In quiet moments, I reflect: Could I have been as good a parent?

And on electrical lines and bare limbs, I see young families of birds preening and chattering. Some of them are mine.

The nesting season is over, but my thoughts turn to next spring. Can I monitor more boxes? Now that my nestbox trail is established, will some parents raise two broods? I do not think spring will come soon enough for me.