Archive for September, 2012

The Joy of Bluebirds
September 24, 2012

As you may know from previous blogs, one of my hobbies is nature study, especially bird study. And the Eastern bluebird is of special interest to me because of the beauty of the creature and the situation with their nesting behavior.

This photo of a male Eastern bluebird is from Cornell Lab of  Ornithology – Cornell University. The female is less brightly colored than the male.

While bluebirds are fairly common in PA, and indeed in all of eastern USA, they are  quiet and somewhat unobtrusive, so many people have never seen one. Most people are more familiar with the blue jay, which is larger, noisy and very aggressive at bird feeders.

Back to the subject of bluebirds’ nesting behavior, they are cavity nesters but cannot hollow out cavities themselves because their beaks not designed for hammering or drilling like woodpeckers. The natural nesting sites for bluebirds have diminished in the 20th century because of changing farming techniques. So humans have discovered that bluebirds are quite willing to nest in man-made boxes. Therefore, thousands of birders, including me, set out nesting boxes, hoping to provide a safe home for these birds.

Here is the box across the street from our home here in the suburbs of Harrisburg, PA.

I paint the roof of the box to preserve it longer. The light blue color is incidental. Any color would do.

This year, 2012, is probably my best year for successful fledging (flying out of the box) of bluebird young. I had 21 boxes out:  6 in this area, 4 at Grantham on and near the campus of Messiah College, and 11 at Roxbury Holiness Camp which is located at the village of Roxbury, not far from Shippensburg.

In these boxes the female bluebirds laid a total of 74 eggs.

Number of eggs that hatched – 57.

Number of young that fledged – all 57.

I also had 9 tree swallow chicks that fledged, 6 house wrens (all in one box), and one chickadee.

I know these numbers because I am a bluebird fanatic, keeping record on index cards of every box and the activity in it.

I also set out on our deck dried mealworms and suet and raisins for the bluebirds, and occasionally, but not every day, they come for a snack.

What do you do for fun? If you enjoy your hobby as much as I do mine, I am happy for you.

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Fun at the Shore – August 2012
September 16, 2012

The day after Roxbury Holiness Camp Meeting ended we and our children and five grandchildren went to Lewes, Delaware, for a week of vacation.

Lewes is known as “the first town in the first state.” From Eight Flags Over Lewes, written by Dan Terrell, I learned that Lewes was settled by the Dutch, captured by the Swedes, recaptured by the Dutch, ceded to the English as part of New Netherlands, separated from New York and annexed to PA, all in the space of 50 years!

Back to our vacation, we stayed in the spacious home of friends of ours from Lancaster County. Most days we went to the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park, located where the Delaware Bay empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Yohannes really enjoys being buried in the sand. Here he is sitting cross-legged with his hands under his legs. When he was ready to break free, it was harder than he thought.

The men in our family went on a 4-hour fishing trip in the Delaware Bay.

As you see, I forgot to smile for this photo.

Perhaps you recognize a flounder. We also caught kingfish, croakers and sunfish.

And here is our family.

For those who don’t recognize everyone, on the top row, left to right, you see Julio, Melanie, me and JoLene.

Middle row: Yohannes, Sheryl, Ed and Jeffrey – all Bernots.

Bottom row: Zariah Bernot, Samaya and Genesis Avila.

We seldom get to spend a week with the whole family togeher in a vacation setting, so this week at the shore is one we will always remember.

More about Roxbury Camp
September 16, 2012

At camp meeting I had the privilege of baptizing two older teens whom I have know since they were small children. The creek on camp property is dammed up to form a swimming hole, which served nicely for the baptism. Our tradition is to have the person kneel in the water; then the minister dips the person forward three times in the name of the Trinity.

On the second Saturday of camp meeting we had the children’s parade – on the theme of Christmas, which was the theme this year for the children’s department, which is known as the Sunbeam Center.

Two angels led the way.

My sister Eileen Blowers, who is director for the Sunbeam Center, and I were the parade marshalls, riding in a decorated golf cart.

Three of our grandchildren walked in the parade. Jeffrey was the king!

Our daughter Melanie and her husband Julio Avila and their two daughters, missionaries to Guatemala, were at camp meeting for the second half of the week. The two girls pictured above are their daughters, Samaya (center) and Genesis (right).

The board of directors devised a gracious plan for honoring the fact that I was retiring after 35 years of serving as camp director. Knowing that birding is a favorite pastime of mine and that I put up nesting boxes for bluebirds,the board encouraged people to write notes of appreciation to me on bluebird-shaped note cards and to give donations  for me and JoLene to go on a major birding trip of our choice. People could drop the notes or donations into a modified,  over-sized nesting box, beautifully decorated with bluebird art!

Such creativity! We were overwhelmed by people’s kindness.

After researching various options for a major birding trip to Central America (the dream of every North American birder), we decided just last week that we will take a ten-day trip to Costa Rica, starting December 29.