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Residents build bird houses at nature preserve

By Curt Yeomans

Marcellus Lindo sees bluebirds and cardinals in his backyard every day, but the winged fowl had no home of their own there until Tuesday.

Lindo, 9, a resident of Jonesboro, his younger brother, Michael Lewis Lindo, and their father, Michael Anthony Lindo, went to the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow to participate in a class on how to build a bluebird house.

After an hour of hammering together pre-cut pieces of wood, Marcellus had completed his bird house. He just was not sure it would actually be used, because he feared it might not last a decade or longer, like some of the bird houses at the preserve.

"I'm not sure if it will stay up for 10 years," Marcellus said. "You can never trust a nail."

John Williams, a ranger at the nature preserve, said bluebirds are common in this area, which is a main reason why he teaches the classes four times a year. He also said birds, like the bluebird, are beneficial to their human counterparts, because of what they eat.

"They only eat insects, like mosquitoes and Japanese beetles, so they are beneficial because they can get rid of some of those insects for you," Williams said. "You'll see bluebirds siting on power lines a lot and they'll just fly down, grab the insect and fly away."

The bird houses Williams taught the Lindo brothers how to make required nine pieces of wood each. Williams said the wood came from dog-eared, wood fence posts, which were purchased at Home Depot. The houses include a removable face, which can be taken off for cleaning purposes.

Williams told Marcellus and Michael Lewis Lindo to attach their birdhouses to the side of a tree which faces southeast. The ranger told the youths the reason for this is because rain generally comes from the northwest.

"If water starts to build up in your bird house, then birds won't want to live there," Williams said.

Williams also said there is no way to be certain that putting up a house alone will attract bluebirds. He said bluebirds like the cover, but insects may need to be put in the house as bait. Once they establish a nest in the house, they will likely stay for awhile, the ranger said.

"If a bird is looking for a place to stay, and you've got something available, then they'll take it, but there's no guarantee that they'll move in," Williams said.

Williams also said there are no set dimensions for making a bird house, except for one. The ranger said the one-and-a-half-inch-wide holes that birds use to enter the house should be four to six inches above its base. This allows baby birds to get out of the house, but it also helps prevents invasions by other animals, Williams said.

Marcellus and his relatives were the only participants in the class. Williams said the bluebird house class is generally popular, but attendance often depends on the luck of the draw. He said it often depends on the vacation schedules for local schools

Michael Anthony Lindo said he found out about the bird-house class when he was with his sons at the Steve Lundquist Aquatics Center in Jonesboro. The elder Lindo picked up a copy of the Clayton County Parks and Recreation department's programming guide. The guide included a list of classes at the nature preserve.

The father said he has already signed his sons up for three more classes at the nature preserve. "I'm trying to give him [Marcellus] more exposure to nature," Michael Anthony Lindo said. "He's learning about habitats in school right now, and we have a lot of these birds in our backyard."

Other offerings coming up at the preserve, include:

· A class on building a Screech Owl house, Wednesday, March 4, from 3 p.m., to 4 p.m. The cost is $12.

· An orienteering course, which will teach people how to use a compass and a map, Tuesday, March 10, from 3 p.m., to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $4.

· A class on Brown Thrashers, the state bird of Georgia, Thursday, March 19, from 3 p.m., to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $7.

· A class on building a bat house, Tuesday, April 7, from 3 p.m., to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $12.

· A gardening class, Wednesday, April 22, from 3 p.m., to 4 p.m. The cost is $8.