EMILY -- Next spring Emily might have a few more bluebirds, thanks to the fifth- and sixth-grade students at Emily Charter School.
The students have done the best thing you can do for bluebirds -- give them a place to nest. Bluebirds' habitat needs are exact. They don't build nests just anywhere. A lack of suitable nesting sites and pesticide use had bluebird numbers in serious decline 40 years ago.
Since that time many people have stepped forward to help bluebirds by giving them places to nest. Build a bluebird house, mount it in the right location and they will come.
"Next spring when you approach these houses, first knock to see if anybody's home," said Betty Hargrave, one of five members of the Fifty Lakes Foundation who helped the students build the houses. "If a bluebird flies out, open the door and inside you'll find a nest with blue or white eggs."
Courtney Gabrio hammered away at a bluebird house in a recent class project at Emily Charter School. The students in the fifth- and sixth-grade classes of teacher Jessica Balsley built 14 houses that will be posted on a "bluebird trail" on school grounds. (Dispatch Photos by Vince Meyer)
The house-building project took place in Jessica Balsley's classroom, which includes John Terpstra, Melissa Satchel, Courtney Gabrio, Kyle Raph, Jacob Halverson, Tara McNaughton, Joe Miller, Melissa Peterson, Tyler Philstrom, Trisha Dehn, Amber Swearingen and Melinda Russel. The students made 14 houses from kits provided by the Fifty Lakes Foundation. In addition to Hargrave, Mike and Karon Carlisle, Russell Gustafson and Bert Germain helped with the project.
Though the students had help, each was responsible for building one house. Much hammering and yammering took place in Balsley's classroom on the afternoon of Sept. 24, as bluebird houses took shape from a stack of boards. When the houses were built, two were taken behind the school and mounted on poles to await the arrival of bluebirds next spring.
Soon the students will create their own bluebird trail by setting up the remainder of their houses. They also will learn more about bluebirds through videos, photographs and literature.
"You will monitor the houses in the spring," Hargrave said, "and keep records for the benefit of our beautiful feathered friends."
Betty Hargrave, a member of the Fifty Lakes Foundation, helped fifth- and sixth-grade students at Emily Charter School set up bluebird houses they built in a recent class project. The foundation donated 14 kits to the school in an effort to draw bluebirds to the school grounds.
The Fifty Lakes Foundation established its first bluebird trail in 1984 with a dozen Peterson Plan houses built by Dale Hargrave, Betty's husband. Today the foundation monitors more than 50 houses, which have had considerable success attracting bluebirds. The houses the Emily students made were also the popular Peterson Plan design.
"We've had very good success with most of our paired houses," Hargrave said. "They draw not only bluebirds but swallows, wrens, chickadees, kingbirds and the occasional English sparrow."
This is the foundation's first attempt at starting a school program. Judging from the excitement of the students at Emily Charter School, it is certain to be a success.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.