WRAL.com at the State Fair

A Visit With the NC Bluebird Society

Posted October 14, 2006 11:28 p.m. EDT

This year one of the freshman exhibitors at the Fair is the North Carolina Bluebird Society. They've been around since 1986, but this is their first year at the Fair. They're in the Commercial Building, in space #41. I got a chance to talk to Fred Benson, president of the Society.

One thing that threw me off about the society is that while the booth has a lot of information about bluebirds, a prevalent placard encouraged conservation measures for a different bird entirely -- a woodpecker! "Actually, we work for the conservation of all endangered cavity-dwelling birds," said Fred. A combination of activities by man and the introduction of the European Starling and English Sparrow into the US decimated the bluebird population, but recently it's been making a comeback.

So how do you help a bird population? Put out houses and food for that bird, sure, but there are other things you can do as well. Fred talked about "birdscaping" -- putting plants in your yard to the benefit of birds. He talked about the problems of nesting birds and how you could protect them from prey and hazards in your yard. He talked about making sure that your yard is a haven for birds during our occasionally harsh winters. He mentioned wet nests and mites. I had no idea bluebirds had so many problems.

Maybe once you've visited the booth at the Fair you'll want to learn more. The Society has an amazingly-informative Web site at http://www.ncbluebird.com/ , including general information about bluebirds (and a PDF file of handy bluebird-care tips), "birdscaping" recommendations, recipes for good bluebird food, a year-round schedule of bluebird activity, and information about memberships.