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Ryan and the Bluebird Trail by Dr. Jack Scanlon

This Febr uar y, my 5-year-old grandson Ryan helped inspect and repair the 3 dozen bluebird boxes scattered around our farm in Cambridge. He loves to watch birds. He had been excited for weeks to visit the farm and assist me in the annual task of nest box maintenance. Ryan got to ride in the Kubota diesel utility vehicle (always a favorite activity), hand me needed tools and observe last year’s contents. He was given the job of counting boxes for an “official” census. I dubbed him “the Tallyman.” After completing work on each box, he marked his Blue’s Clues notebook with a penciled vertical line. After four had been counted and work on the fifth completed, he cross-hatched the previous four marks to tally five. Counting by fives became a fun arithmetic drill for this preschooler. We sang a song, “Hey, Mr. Tallyman, tally me some boxes,” paraphrasing Harry Belafonte’s calypso ditty from the 1950s. Ryan had a great time, of ten sporting a big smile. He tallied 37 boxes, then signed the sheet when we were finished. He loves numbers and seemed very proud of his work. I showed Ryan several typical bluebird nests with their deep cups

Ryan shows off his “cuke smile” on a recent visit to the farm. and soft grass linings. There were also house wrens’ (Troglodytes aedon) nests, usually made with moss; or a tree swallow’s (Tachyineta bicolor) abode, typically feather lined. Once a cliff sparrow (Petrocheiodon pyrrhonota) had grouted its typical Spartan mud nest to the bottom of a box. This required a knife to remove. A few nest boxes had been preempted by house sparrows (Passer domesticus). Their nests were great tall things crafted from

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March 2013 Tidewater Times  

March 2013 Tidewater Times

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