Bird habitat project taking off

First Posted: 2/26/2009

Larry Eggers loves birds, but one type is especially near and dear to his heart.
Theres just something special about that familiar species with the bright-blue wings and tail and reddish-orange chest which has captured the admiration of legions of bird-watchers Eggers among them.
The Eastern bluebird is by far my favorite bird, he agreed Thursday. Theyre the prettiest little bird I believe Ive ever seen theyre just gorgeous.
Eggers, 63, who is retired from Westinghouse in Winston-Salem, said he became really interested in birds about 12 years ago, an infatuation that is more than evident around his White Plains residence.
I guess Im a stay-at-home bird enthusiast, he joked. I have bird feeders and birdhouses all over the place out here, including one house with 20 different compartments. I have cardinals galore because they like brushy areas to nest in, he added.
But Eggers is not just interested in the birds around his home, but also those inhabiting areas along the Emily B. Taylor Greenway in Mount Airy. On Thursday, accompanied by city personnel, he installed four bluebird houses at strategic points along the walking trail to boost the habitat of the attractive and extremely popular songbird in that area.
Eggers not only constructed and erected the box-like structures as a donation to the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department, he will be maintaining them as well.
Catrina Alexander, city parks and recreation director, said that Eggers had contacted her last week offering to make bluebird houses for the greenway. As birding has quickly become one of North Carolinas top recreational activities, we certainly agreed to Larrys request, Alexander said.
She said that Eggers efforts will add another dimension to the greenway, allowing people to enjoy the bluebirds as they are walking, running or cycling the path.
If theres a bluebird around, Ill build them a home, Eggers told Alexander Thursday.
The bird aficionado began walking on the greenway for exercise about two years ago at the urging of his daughter, who lived in Mount Airy then. He noticed that the path that snakes along Lovills Creek from Worth to West Lebanon streets seemed to attract his beloved bluebirds.
There is no telling how many are over there, he said.
Eventually, the idea was hatched to erect the birdhouses at what he considers a prime, protected habitat in the middle of town.
He says several factors make the greenway ideal for bluebirds.
That should be an excellent habitat for them, in my opinion, because they are close to water, Eggers said. Also, the presence of pasturelands and other areas along the pathway, including Veterans Memorial Park, are fertile grounds for insects that the birds eat. Especially after theyve mowed, it should create a lot of insect movement over there, Eggers said.
Bluebirds like to nest in relatively open spaces, but tend to be territorial. For that reason, their birdhouses have to be spaced about 100 feet apart.
With spring near, the bluebird activity will be picking up, Eggers said. Theyre probably the earliest nester of any bird.
Other interesting bird species also have been spotted along the greenway, including blue herons that are drawn to the water, and hawks.
Because of Mr. Eggers generosity and enthusiasm, trail users will enjoy watching the bluebirds in their new habitat, said Alexander, the parks and recreation director. Just like the bluebirds, we, too, are very appreciative of Larrys thoughtfulness.
That thoughtfulness will not end with the greenway, however. Eggers also is planning to build boxes for wood ducks at the citys new pond at Westwood Park, which will become a public fishing area later this year. The boxes will help protect the wild ducks by offering a protected structure for hens and hatchlings.
Alexander said she appreciates projects that allow interested citizens to partner with recreation officials, and said the birding effort could be expanded to include interpretative signs and other features to give such facilities as the greenway added appeal.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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