Photo: Photograph by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images

A Home for Bluebirds

A letter carrier builds bird boxes along her route.

This story comes to you through a partnership between Audubon and BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

[audioplayer:128631|align:right|caption:] We've talked about "Important Bird Areas" many times here on BirdNote. Well, Rita Shultz, a rural mail carrier outside of Richmond, Virginia, says, "Every person's yard is an important bird area!" Here's her story, first told in Audubon magazine

Many customers on Rita's mail route also have newspaper delivery boxes, open at one end. When Rita discovered that Eastern Bluebirds were nesting in the boxes—and that many customers were throwing the nests out—she went into high gear. Rita asked all the people on her route if she could put up bluebird boxes on their property. More than half of them agreed! 

Rita Schultz looks after bluebirds on her mail route. Photo: Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images

After Rita and a friend put up the boxes, the bluebirds needed no coaxing. They moved quickly from the old boxes to the new ones, tailor-made for them

But there have been challenges. Rita's mail route runs along the James River, home to many black snakes. Inevitably, snakes found their way into the bluebird boxes. Not a good thing for bluebirds. She won't kill a snake, mind you—her parents raised her to respect all wildlife. So what was her solution? Rubbing Vick's Vapo-Rub on the base of the pole. Snakes, it seems, have no taste for Vick's.

Photo: Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images

Rita, thank you for making life a little easier for bluebirds!

For BirdNote, I'm Michael Stein.


Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Eastern Bluebird recorded by W.L. Hershberger #107204 Ambient by W.L. Hershberger #107204. Mailbox and mail truck recorded by C. Peterson. Producer: John Kessler. Executive Producer: Chris Peterson © 2013 Tune In to February 2013   Narrator: Michael Stein

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