The SNS held a Special General Meeting on April 15 to pass a series of amendments to our Constitution and Bylaws (C & B). The amendments were drafted to bring the C & B into compliance with the provincial Act that governs non-profit charitable organizations, a process that hadn’t been done since 2007. The Zoom meeting was very well attended with close to 60 participants, and I am pleased to report that the motions to amend the C & B were supported by close to 100% of the participants. I would like to thank Valerie Martz for initiating this process and for chairing the committee. A thank-you also goes out to Donna Bruce and Diane Wells for their knowledge and expertise, which ensured that all the changes met the requirements of the Act, no small feat.
The April 15 meeting also brought to a close our indoor programming for the spring. On behalf of you all, I thank Joe Stookey for arranging all the great presentations that we enjoyed over the winter months. With us forced to hold all our meetings virtually, many potential speakers were reluctant to commit to a presentation. Joe turned this into a positive by broadening the geographic scope of his search and recruiting speakers from as far away as Ontario and California. I’m still impressed that we had the opportunity to listen to Dan Strickland – from his home office in Ontario – share his life’s research on the Canada Jay, widely accepted as our national bird. Joe has asked for some help with the programming so we’ve created a committee, pending board approval, comprised of Heather Brenneman, Janine McManus and Joe to coordinate programming in the coming year. I’m looking forward to more great talks.
I had the pleasure of assisting John Patterson with the April 3rd SNS Mountain Bluebird tour. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day that provided good conditions for the bluebird sightings: six in total. In preparation for the tour, I reviewed Lorne Scott’s article that ran in the Blue Jay back in 2016: My Life With Bluebirds. If you haven’t had the pleasure, here’s the link to Lorne’s very informative article: https://bluejayjournal.ca/index.php/bluejay/article/view/
Lorne’s been interested in bluebirds since he was a lad. Over the years, he has constructed and maintained hundreds of bluebird nesting boxes in the area around his home south of Indian Head. I spoke to him last week about box designs and procedures for proper cleaning and maintenance of such nesting boxes. Lots of box designs are available. Here’s a good one offered by Cornell’s Nest Watch: https://nestwatch.org/learn/all–aboutbirdhouses/birds/mountain–bluebird/
The site provides information on box spacing, orientation and predator prevention. Lorne stressed the importance of box cleaning and maintenance. He cleans all his boxes in the fall and may check a few again in the spring to ensure that deer mice haven’t taken up residence over the winter. During the SNS bluebird tour, I noticed that many boxes were not being maintained or cleaned. Just like us, bluebirds like a clean house; they are less likely to use a dirty box for nesting. Poorly maintained boxes put the nestlings at risk from parasites, disease and predators. You can imagine how difficult it is for young birds in a leaky old box during a heavy downpour or how easily a raccoon can pull a poorly maintained box apart. Raccoons threaten both nestlings and adults by sitting on top of the box and “dipping,” or reaching in through the box entrance and grabbing eggs and birds. Lorne has devised a mesh predator guard to go over the entrance that prevents the raccoon from reaching into the box (Diagram B). Other predator guard designs call for a wooden block that goes over the entrance to create a similar tunnel effect (Diagram A).
Based on my observations and chatting with folks involved with bluebird nesting boxes, it appears that in many cases no one is tracking their location or their cleaning and maintenance. Many SNS members are working on the boxes around the city. It would be good to compile a database with locations of boxes, a record of who installed them and the maintenance. Please contact me by email or phone if you have boxes you are looking after. We have volunteers who are willing to help with the cleaning and maintenance of bluebird boxes. With a bit of co-ordination, we could help increase the nesting success of these beautiful harbingers of spring.
Saskatoon Nature Society
Connecting People and Nature
Saskatoon Nature Society
Box 27013 Grosvenor Park
Saskatoon, SK S7H 5N9