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Our brand new house welcomes its first family.

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Environmentalists say lots of bad things about suburban lawns, but don’t tell that to Eastern bluebirds. Bluebirds love our lawns because they mimic the wide-open, grassy fields adjacent to woodlands where these birds hunt for bugs. Normally, bluebirds nest in tree cavities, but loss of habitat and competition from other birds can make suitable spots scarce. Fortunately, kind, forward-thinking savants like the Grump can ameliorate the problem by putting up bluebird houses.

Judy and I are proud to announce our first tenants have moved in.

Bluebirds are quite picky when looking at potential homes. If you’re an intrepid bird-lover who likes to build things, you can quickly find plans on the internet. I don’t, so Judy bought a stylish, deluxe version designed version designed by the Audubon Society to be just right. Made of weather-resistant cedar and featuring an upscale copper roof, it measures about 13 inches tall and 6 inches wide. The 1-9/16” entry hole is the perfect size to let bluebirds in while excluding larger bids. A predator guard fixed over the hole prevents birds and other pests from enlarging it to get inside. After the fledglings leave, the front door swings open for easy cleaning.

Steve Bender

Location is vital to attracting bluebirds the house. They like open, sunny spots around them that make it easy to spot both predators and prey. Branches and electric lines higher up help with this too. Every time I cut the lawn, bluebirds perch on the lines above and search for insects I’ve flushed out. The male isn’t as fussy as the female. He basically just wants to get the whole family thing done. He’ll show his mate every abode that catches his eye, just hoping she’ll say yes. She makes the final decision, however, no matter what he thinks. Just like people.

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Bluebirds may like hunting in sun, but I can’t imagine spending an Alabama summer nesting in it. Therefore, I attached the birdhouse to the north-facing side of the trunk of a longleaf pine. This keeps it shaded almost all day. It’s six feet high up on the trunk, which helps protect it from ground-based predators.

I’d show you a photo of the babies inside, but I’m afraid if I open the front door, they might tumble out. The bluebird community would soon discover this and blackball me forever. A super-sensitive wildlife lover like me just can’t take the chance. My reputation is at stake.