About 50 people learned all about bluebirds Saturday at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Sherman. Beginning the day with a nature walk, site patrons got to find bluebirds on the site before Austin College Biology Professor Wayne Meyer told them about the bluebirds that can be found in the U.S.
Meyer’s visit was part of Hagerman’s second Saturday program, which offers educational opportunities monthly.
“Around here you will find mainly Eastern bluebirds,” Meyer said. “The habitats of the Western and Mountain bluebirds just barely overlap so you really will not find the others in this area.”
Aside from eastern, western and mountain bluebirds, there are also birds that are blue that are not in the bluebird family.
Indigo and Lazuli buntings, Blue Grosbecks and Blue Jays are all birds that are blue. Each of these birds have a cone shaped beak because unlike bluebirds, they eat more vegetation that meat.
“One of the things that is most unique about the bluebirds is the number of songs the birds have,” Meyer said. “They have almost 100 and the number increases as the mating season continues. Most birds have as many as 16 songs. One thing that researchers have found is that bluebirds ad lib so they make up their songs as they go.
Bluebirds sit in long leaf pine trees and hunt insects. Bluebirds will also eat fruit during the winter when it’s harder to find insects.
A lot of people make or buy bird nests to attract bluebirds into their yards, Meyer said. The best way to get the birds to take advantage of a yard, Austin College Biology Professor Kim Snipes said, is to not have the cleanest yard.
“We need to start thinking about the insects in our yards,” she said. “When you see them, you should not think that you need to run to Home Depot and purchase the best pesticides that there are. Some of the insects are really good and there are things that eat them. Slightly less perfect yards will support more bluebirds than the perfectly kept, perfectly leafed yards.”
Snipes said she has had her yard certified as a nature preserve because she wants to help maintain a habitat that animals would like to venture onto. She said that people who use less of everything generally get really diverse plant life and animals.
“I knew a little about bluebirds to begin with,” Bill Nance, who attended the talk Saturday, said. “I thought that learning about the mating habits was kind of interesting. Also, there were some things that you hear about bluebirds that may or may not be true. Wayne Meyer disputed some of those things today so it was good to learn the truth about them.”