Bluebirds of Happiness,Year 4!

NOTE: This letter from our Nature Center Bluebird Monitor, Jamie Shorts, is not only an update for fans of the Nature Center, it’s a powerful reminder of the enduring relationships Neighborhood House has fostered through the years.  It’s posted here and will be archived with Our Stories, a series of interviews with the people of Neighborhood House.


May 9, 2013,

Hey NH peeps!!!

So my family and I started our annual monitoring of the Neighborhood House Nature Center Bluebird Trail this past Saturday, May 4th.  Our trail consists of 10 nest boxes which can be homes for birds such as house wrens, tree swallows, house sparrows (an invasive bird), and most importantly – bluebirds.  Data collected goes to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW) and is compiled with national data.

Here is a quick synopsis of what we did and saw:

We were SO excited to start our 4th year of monitoring, and as we opened Box #1 (aka – Bob’s Box – I’ll explain the names later) we got even more excited!  Box #1 had a beautiful bluebird nest in it along with 3 bluebird eggs.  As we moved along the trail we found that it appeared that 8 of our 10 boxes had bluebird activity in them.  The other two boxes had house wren nests.  In addition to all the nests, we counted a total of 13 bluebird eggs (3 in Bob’s box, 5 in Chris’ box, and 5 in Finn’s box).  This is such a great start to the season!  We really enjoy this time of year, as we got to see many spring wild flowers in bloom, as well as some wildlife and lots of birds.

We also decided to name the boxes this year.  In the previous years, we have just called them by their numbers.  We thought it would be fun to name them after some Nature Center VIPS.  Here’s a run down of who’s who:

Box #1 – Bob’s. Bob is a volunteer who donated and put in the bluebird trail.  He has taught me everything I know about bluebirds and has done presentations for NH kids.  He is part of Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin

Box #2 – Carol’s. Carol was a past summer day camp employee and Nature Center caretaker back in the early 80’s.  She has a deep love for the Nature Center, and for bluebirds, and helped set up the first bluebird trail here.  She has volunteered during the maple sugaring season for many years.  She even met her husband at the Nature Center while painting what used to be the outhouses!

Box #3 – Wyatt’s. Wyatt is my son, and future bluebird trail monitor.  His box sits low on its pole so that our youngest visitors can easily see into the box.

Box #4 – Judy’s. Judy is a former Neighborhood House employee who ran the kid’s club and  summer day camp program.  She also loves the Natue Center – and the bluebirds!

Box #5 – Blaeser’s. This box is named for Brad Blaeser and his family.  Brad was a kid who grew up going to Neighborhood House, worked here as a teen, and then eventually became a program manager.  Brad has been instrumental in developing the Nature Center through the years.  He still visits with this son Benjamin.

Box #6 – Chris’ s. Chris, a long time employee and Early Childhood Services director of Neighborhood House, has been a great friend of Neighborhood House since her retirement and continues to volunteer at the Nature Center.

Box #7 – Jamie & Rorey’s. Jamie is ME! I served as the Nature Center coordinator for a number of years, and re-established the prairie where the bluebird boxes stand.  I also helped Bob put in the bluebird trail, and have maintained it and monitored it ever since.  Rorey is my husband who has volunteered many, many hours of blood, sweat and tears in this effort.  He has grown to love the bluebirds as much as me.

Box #8 – Niki’s. Niki is the current Nature Center guru and the heart and soul of Outdoor and Environmental Education at Neighborhood House.  She makes sure that every child who comes to the Nature Center has an unforgettable experience there.

Box #9 – LuAnne’s.  LuAnne was a long-time Early Childhood Services director at Neighborhood House, and was there in the beginning phases of the Nature Center and made sure that it became an important part of every child’s experience with us.  For years after her retirement, she volunteered  at our International Learning Center and at the Nature Center during maple sugaring time. Today she is very involved with native landscaping.

Box #10 – Finn’s. Finn was the son of Michael Ring and Nicole Mondroski.  Mike “Ding” and Nicky were outdoor environmental educators for Neighborhood House and had a great love for ourkids and the Nature Center.  Their son Finn lost his battle with cancer this past January.  During this difficult time, bluebirds offered a source of hope and comfort for the family.  We named box #10 in memory of him.

Bluebird Trail Monitoring will go on every week from now until September.  All are welcome to join me!  Call Neighborhood House for more info.

Enjoy the pics!


P.S. – I also monitor a trail at Dretzka Park.  13 boxes.  I am planning on monitoring that trail every Wednesday.  People may also join me on that trail as well!

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