Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Sky On His Back

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.” So wrote Henry David Thoreau, the 19th Century writer, naturalist and philosopher. He was writing about the eastern bluebird that was a common resident of the fencerows and forest edges that were abundant on the 19th century farms that were so familiar to Thoreau.

But then came mechanized agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s cost-sharing programs of the mid-20th century that reimbursed farmers for most of the cost of removing those fencerows to improve efficiency.

So much for the abundance of bluebirds as their nesting and roosting places in the fencerows, hollow trees and rotten fenceposts were eliminated.

When I was a boy, eastern bluebirds were few and far between and seeing one was a treat of the first magnitude. About that time bluebird trails were being created as landowners and others interested in bluebirds installed large numbers of suitable nest boxes –

Now, bluebirds are back in appreciable numbers – and much of the increase in numbers is attributable to the folks who installed and maintained those nest boxes –

Over the last couple of decades eastern bluebirds have become almost common in some areas –


With the warmer winters brought about by the changing climate, many bluebirds are spending the winter in northcentral Pennsylvania where they feed on fruit remaining on trees and shrubs.

The resurgence of the eastern bluebird population is one of the conservation success stories of the last 60 years.


The Furry Gnome said...

Such a beautiful bird, symbolic of the rural countryside.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

They are a beautiful bird. I see nesting boxes all over the place here in Vermont.

Barbara Rogers said...

I still get thrilled whenever I see one fly by...they don't sit still long enough for me to capture a photo...but they are so noticeable with their colors against grey trees.

Out To Pasture said...

What a special, heart-warming blog post, Woody. 2020 was the first year I had much success with eastern bluebirds. I've now got 25 suitable boxes up and ready for the return of these sweet little birds in March.

eileeninmd said...


I am glad to hear the Bluebirds are doing so well. They are beautiful birds and one of my many favorites. Great collection of photos.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post! Take care, have a happy weekend!

Rain said...

Beautiful photos Woody, we don't see bluebirds here at all, they're so pretty.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That's such good news that they are making a come back. I love seeing the snowy background. We hope to see some today when we hike. We're going to an area where they live! Enjoy your weekend and thanks for a wonderful post!

Jenn Jilks said...