“We drove ‘em out and we can help them establish a home here once again,” says Bruce Painter, a Friends of Griffith Park member talking about the colorful Western bluebird, once a regular resident of Griffith Park.
Growing up in Louisiana and now retired here in Southern California, Bruce fondly remembers watching Eastern bluebirds fluttering in the skies of his childhood. “I like to see these little things and thought maybe others would enjoy seeing them too.” The bluebird project Painter brought to Griffith Park three years ago may finally be showing signs of fruition.
Having no luck in the past two years of attracting a mating bluebird couple to his eight homemade nesting boxes scattered throughout the Park, Bruce was thrilled this year to discover five blue-colored eggs in one of the boxes. He was overjoyed to see that a few weeks later those eggs hatched! Additionally, he found a second pair of bluebirds building in another box! In the past, flycatchers and wrens had taken over some of the boxes while others had remained empty.
“If they are successful, maybe they will start a community again of bluebirds here,” says Bruce. After all, he points to the success of Orange County’s Southern California Bluebird Club that started with one nesting pair in 2006 and today witnesses more than 7,000 hatchings per year.
“If Orange County can do it, why can’t we do it here in Los Angeles?” he asks.
To be fair, that club has more than 200 members; Bruce is a one-man show at Griffith Park who updates Friends of Griffith Park on box activity. He receives annual approval from LA Recreation and Parks to strategically place the nesting boxes in the Park; he originally positioned 12 but four of those have been vandalized or stolen.
In the coming years, Bruce wants to place more boxes for these small cavity-nesters that typically carve out space in rotting or dead trees as well as in the holes of woodpeckers. Since dead and diseased trees are systematically removed from Griffith Park, bluebird pairs had little options but to nest elsewhere.
But with nesting boxes, throngs of little bluebirds of happiness could abundantly return again to reshape the diversity of wildlife found in Griffith Park. We will keep you updated on Project Bluebird!