Finding a way to help bluebird population grow

Jim Bearden's interest grew into a passion founding the bluebird project and trail at Green Meadows Preserve in Marietta. The 31 nest boxes and 10 feed stations are sponsored and are located throughout the 2.3 mile trail.

Credit: Kathryn Kickliter

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Jim Bearden's interest grew into a passion founding the bluebird project and trail at Green Meadows Preserve in Marietta. The 31 nest boxes and 10 feed stations are sponsored and are located throughout the 2.3 mile trail.

Credit: Kathryn Kickliter

Credit: Kathryn Kickliter

Q: I heard about bluebird houses at a park in Cobb. Can you tell me where this park is and about the bird houses?

A: You are referring to the bluebird trail at the passive 112-acre Green Meadows Preserve Park in Marietta, located on the northwest corner of Dallas Highway and Old Hamilton Road.

There are 31 nest boxes and 10 feed stations placed along the 2.3-mile trail, according to Jim Bearden, who is the founder of the Blue Bird program at the park.

“Bluebirds are territorial and don’t like to be close to their neighbors,” he said. The nest boxes are spread out and placed in no particular order along the trail. Each station has two feeders containing dried mill worms and a suet cake cage feeder.

The trail for bluebirds “started as an idea and became a passion,” said the 76-year-old Bearden on a recent Sunday. “The bluebirds needed help. They couldn’t replenish their population on their own. They need people like me.

“My goal is to increase the numbers (of bluebirds) because they were almost wiped out in the 60s and early 70s because of DDT,” the founder noted.

DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was developed to combat insects in the 1940s. The use of the pesticide was stopped in 1972, according to the EPA, based on its adverse environmental effects on wildlife.

In 2012, Bearden said six bluebirds were hatched at the park. Last year 233 bluebirds were fledged during the nesting season which runs from March through August.

“Over the last nine years, we’ve fledged 2,099 bluebirds. Look at it like multilevel marketing. Each of those birds is going to have 20 birds a season. That’s going to increase the number,” the retired travel industry executive said.

The bluebird will only lay one egg per day. On average three to five eggs are laid. It takes 12 days of the female sitting on the eggs for the babies to hatch. The male feeds the female during that time.

The young birds go to either a man-made perch or a nearby tree to learn how to fly. For the first 30 days after leaving the nest, the baby birds are not capable of feeding themselves, he said.

“You see them lined up on tree limbs crying and begging” to be fed. The parents bring them food and teach them how to feed themselves.

“It’s fun to come out and watch the birds,” Bearden said.

Look for the Bluebird Trail Walk and Talk Tour to resume this spring. Address: 3780 Dallas Highway, Marietta.


New to Atlanta or simply have a question about this place we call home? Email your request to atlactualfact@gmail.com

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