Features


Nesting Birds Call Old Farm Road ‘Home Sweet Home’

Published: May 21, 2019 at 07:00 am

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Dogs and cats are not the only creatures getting to call the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center their current residence. Families of birds have moved to the Old Farm Road neighborhood, thanks to more than a dozen outdoor birdhouses placed throughout the diverse property.

Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason has been caring for the birdhouses by the building, while Newtown resident Dottie Evans has been overseeing the ones further out in the more remote meadow areas.

Every March, the duo clean out the birdhouses of any mice nests and get the boxes emptied for birds to move in.

While they do not feed the birds, so as to not entice animal predators, the empty structures provide a variety of bird species with shelter and a safe place to nest.

Ms Mason says she mainly sees chimney swifts and barn swallows, whereas Ms Evans tends to see more bluebirds and tree swallows.

The birds are drawn to the houses, Ms Evans explains, because the types of birds she sees are “cavity nesters” who like boxes that are out in the open.

Ms Evans is a member of Protect Our Pollinators in Newtown, which encourages supporting native insect-eating birds and helping them thrive in an area with no spraying of pesticides.

Her desire to provide homes for her feathered friends stemmed from her love of bluebirds, and she originally dreamed of housing them on her own property. After finding that her home was not a successful location for the birdhouses, she relocated the boxes to Old Farm Road.

“Bluebirds need a big open space, so I knew those lower fields were a perfect habitat for them. I took a couple of my [bird]houses and put them down there, because I knew they’d do better,” Ms Evans said. “Sure enough, they did get bluebirds, and they also got tree swallows, which are wonderful native birds. Bluebirds and tree swallows like the open space.”

Ms Evans and Ms Mason have enjoyed getting to see the birds utilizing and raising their families in the houses each year. They hope others can appreciate them, as well, and continue to be respectful of the birds and their homes.

Volunteer Opportunities

“If anyone wants to do community service, we’d appreciate them making birdhouses that are able to be cleaned,” Ms Mason said.

To do so, Ms Evans says that one of the sides must hinge up or sideways for access into the box and the hole for the birds to enter the house must be 1½ inches wide and tall. If the hole is smaller, the birds will not be able to get in, and if it is larger, then predators can get in.

Though some of the current birdhouses on the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center premises are painted, Ms Evans recommends keeping the birdhouses’ wood natural to avoid paints with any potential toxins.

Those interested in making and/or donating birdhouses for the area can visit the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center at 21 Old Farm Road or call 203-426-6900.

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