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Star Prairie group saving bluebirds -- one house at a time

Bluebirds are making a flourishing return to the Wisconsin countryside due to the efforts of organizations that have dotted the landscape with bluebird houses.

Star Prairie Fish and Game has been working to improve the bluebird population in the area. Recently, six members took a day and constructed 50 bluebird houses.

Those bluebird houses were donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On Monday, several members of the SPFG teamed with Tom Kerr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service district manager, in placing 15 of those houses along waterfowl protections areas in the Star Prairie area. They were joined in the effort by Lowell Peterson of Somerset, who is the St. Croix County coordinator for the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin.

BRAW claims that Wisconsin has the highest number of successful hatchings of bluebirds in the country. A record-breaking 28,814 fledgling bluebirds were reported by BRAW monitors in 2009.

The local effort is one of a number of successful partnerships between SPFG and the USFWS. Kerr said the placement of the bluebird houses is part of a restoration effort. He said the service is working to restore the oak savannas and wetlands traditional to the county. Bluebirds are native to that landscape.

The SPFG members also constructed 10 wood duck houses. Placing the bluebird and wood duck houses around the county makes up for the lack of tree cavities that are the natural nesting area for these birds.

Kerr said the bluebird and wood duck houses are available to people who would like to offer habitat for these birds. The houses come complete with a fence post and kit to attach it to the post. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office at 246-7784 for a house.

Peterson, who is also on the BRAW state board, said he is available to answer any questions about bluebirds. He can be contacted at 715-247-3423. He said is a valuable tool and includes instructions to make the bluebird houses.

Peterson is an active bluebird house builder. He has 22 houses on his property. Last year 98 bluebirds were fledged on his property and 109 were fledged the year before. He also monitors 50 houses at Willow River State Park.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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