The Bluebird Trail: A Promise Kept

If it were a Hollywood film script, it would start with a flashback to World War II. One of the two leading characters is a Squadron Commander shot down in the China Sea who uses his 45 to shoot the sharks circling his life raft, runs out of water, keeps one last bullet for himself and is rescued on the 11th day. The other is a Navy medic stationed stateside with the Fleet Marines.

Fast forward some 45 years after they serve; they meet and, like lots of friendships made here at The Landings, they become close. Their lives and interests intersect on the golf course and at church. The pilot keeps busy in retirement making bluebird houses. He goes to building sites, picks up scrap lumber and nails his handiwork to trees. He’s got maybe 10 or 15 boxes up and running when, in the early 1990s, he is stricken with cancer.

On his deathbed, he asks his friend if he would take over this bluebird project. “Yes,” his friend replies, “he would be honored.” And so Chuck Owen spent 18 years “trying to please” his late friend Dave Scott.

Today, alongside every golf course at The Landings Club there are bluebird boxes – 185 of them – making the Dave Scott Bluebird Trail the longest monitored bluebird trail in the Southeastern U.S. George James, Chairman of the Dave Scott Bluebird Program watches over the project with vigilance. Trained volunteers are responsible for tending boxes on nine holes, they track activities of the bluebirds and count bluebirds fledged during the nesting season from March 1 to August 1. Betsy Flaherty, collects weekly reports from the monitors with information about how each box is producing. This past year (2013-2014), a record number of bluebirds were fledged, 1106 along with 47 chickadees, and 88 nuthatches. Bluebirds normally lay five eggs, and may nest three times in a season.

Boxes that aren’t producing are relocated along the courses; some are out in the open, but all are on posts with baffles, to protect them from predators — raccoons, snakes and opposums. As boxes need to be replaced or moved, George James with the assistance of the club’s grounds personnel takes charge. The trail serves as an important part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certification program.

 

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