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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
May 2, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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May 2, 2018

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May 2, 2018 Page 3B Reporter MONROE OUTDOORS by Terry W. Johnson Nesting bluebirds Those of us that have been lucky enough to have bluebirds nesting in boxes we have erected are faced with deciding whether or not it is safe to check on the progress of a nesting effort. Since many birds are very intolerant of any human activ- ity around their nests, the last thing we want to do is have blue- bird nestlings or eggs abandoned because we TERRY W. wanted to peek inside the box. Fortunately, bluebirds are very tolerant of humans. Consequently, none other than the North American Bluebird Society recom- mends we should check bluebird nest boxes weekly throughout the nesting sea- son. In fact, their research demonstrates that when a box is regularly monitored, the chance young bluebirds will fledge from the box actually increases. There are a number of reasons why nest box checks help nesting blue- birds. First, you can keep paper wasps from build- ing their nests in bluebird boxes. Bluebirds do not like to be near wasp nests any more than we do will abandon a box con- taining a healthy wasp nest. However, if you open a box and find these annoy- ing insects are just begin- ning to construct a nest, you can easily remove it without being stung. Weekly nest box checks will also help thwart the nesting attempts of the house sparrow. This European transplant has contributed mightily to the decline of blue- JOHNSON bird populations in many parts of the county. Aggressive house spar- rows compete with eastern bluebirds for the precious few suitable nesting sites available. Whenever house sparrows compete for a nest box with a bluebird, invariably the bluebird is the one that loses. Therefore, if you find a large bulky nest construct- ed of grass, feathers and pieces of trash, more than likely you are looking at a , house sparrow nest. The clincher is if you see three to seven white to greenish- white eggs speckled with gray or brown markings, the nest probably belongs to a house sparrow. Whenever you find such a nest, remove it. Do not tolerant of humans who want help be surprised if you have to remove such nests several times before you finally deter the house sparrow from nesting in that loca- tion. In addition to occupying a nest box, these aggressive birds will destroy bluebird eggs and kill hatchlings and adults alike. Since there are a number of other species of birds that also nest in bluebird boxes, never disturb the nests of any other birds. In fact, it is illegal to remove the nests of house finches, Carolina wrens, Carolina chickadees, brown-headed nuthatches and other birds protected by law. If you open a box and find a loosely constructed nest composed of pine needles, grass or weed stalks, it was built by an eastern bluebird. Typically, a female bluebird will lay three to six pale blue, unmarked eggs. Once you decide to monitor your nest boxes, you are in for a real treat. I know many folks that enjoy keeping records on the number of boxes used and young fledged in the boxes on their property. If you begin nest box checks while females are laying eggs, you can deter- mine when the last egg is laid and incubation begins. Once a female begins Assistance from those who love bluebirds, like this nesting box, helps insure they don't become endangered in spite of obstacles. (Photo/Terry Johnson) laying her eggs, she will prematurely. lay one per da); until her After the young have dutch in completed, fledged, the North Incubation doesn't begin American Bluebird Society until the last egg is laid. recommends you remove Incubation typically lasts the nest. Remember blue- 12-14 days. birds in the Peach State The young grow quickly will nest up to two more and will remain in a nest times in the same year. box only 17-21 days. Keep Consequently, there is a this in mind, as you should chance a box will be used not check on hatchlings in by bluebirds more than a box until after the young once in a year. are 11 days old. If you do, When you remove a the youngsters are likely nest, if you dispose of the to bail out of the nest box nesting material dose to the nest box, you increase the chances a nest preda- tor such as a raccoon will find the nearby nest box. Therefore, it is always a good idea to dispose of old nesting material at least 30 or 40 yards away from a bOX. The best time to moni- tor a bluebird nesting box is on a day when there is little or no wind and the weather is dry. Since you do not want to disturb nesting bluebirds any more than you have to, perform your checks quickly and quietly. I am convinced either the eastem bluebird would be extinct or on the endan- gered species list without the help from people that go out of their way to assist them. By the same token, ff we want to continue to enjoy the sights and sound of bluebirds in the future, we need to continue to do all we can to help the bird that Henry Thoreau said, " iwears the sky on its back." Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame- Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column 'Monroe Outdoors'for the Reporter for many years. Email him at tjwoodduck@ Woodward on Tuesdayl (File photo) By Richard Dumas The Mary Persons boys and girls tennis teams saw their respective sea- sons come to an end with second-round losses at Woodward Academy. The MP boys squad, which finished the season with a 13-5 record (5-2 in Region 2-AAAA), fell to Woodward 0-3 for its second straight Sweet 16 defeat. Two matches were still in progress when the War Eagles clinched, but they were each halted before they were finished. MP's losses came in No. 3 singles, where Preston Wilson dropped his match 0-6, 1-6 to Michael Azadi, No. 1 doubles, where the brother tandem of Caleb and Micah Wilson fell 2-6, 2-6 to Derek Zhou and Finn Gosch, and in No. 2 doubles, where MP's pair of Jordan Carr and Seth Smith lost 1-6, 0-6 to Myles Ramos and Jason Escobar. MP was a game away from losing the No. 2 singles match as well with the Dogs' Tanner Lee trailing Woodward's Stuart Gordon 0-6, 0-5 when the match was stopped. , In No. 1 singles, MP senior Chris Swars was locked in an intense battle with Woodward's Sanil Sawja, splitting the first two sets 4-6, 6-4 before the match was halted. The Lady Dogs, which finished the season with a 10-8 record (4-3 in Re- gion 2-AAAA), were defeated 0-4 by the Lady War Eagles to finish their season in the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year. MP senior Cadi Seitz mustered up the Lady Dogs' lone game points in a 1-6, 1-6 loss to Sydney Lopez in No. 1 singles. The Lady Dogs also dropped the No. 2 singles match with Jackie Gore losing to Ansley Car- penter 0-6, 0-6, the No. 1 doubles match with Audrey Parrott and Mad- dine Copeland falling 0-6, 0-6 to Sarah Lewis and Caroline Yarbrough, and the No. 2 doubles match with MPs pair of Reagan Dorrity and Anna Starr getting double-bageled 0-6, 0-6 by Woodward's Sydney Taylor and Roshni Shah. The girls No. 3 singles match had just started when Woodward's team clinched with MP's Emma Cantrell trailing Mia Chan 0-3 when it was stopped. Both the Woodward Academy boys and girls squads will next face North Oconee, which ousted both MP teams from the playoffs in 2017, in the AAA state quarterfinals. I By Itkha Dumas Two Mary Persons boys track athletes qualified for the AAAA state finals after high finishes at the AAAA state sectional meet at Kinnett Stadium in Colum- bus on Saturday. Freshman Justin Wachtel will compete in a pair of races, the 1,600 meters and the 3,200 meters, at the championship meet, which will be contested at Valhalla Stadium at Berry Col- lege in Rome from Thursday, May 10 through Saturday, May 12. One other MP boys athlete, senior Condarius Alford, also made it into state, qualifying in the boys high jump. Wachtel took first place on Saturday in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10 minutes, 2 seconds. Wachters time was five seconds faster than the runner-up time of 10 minutes, 7 seconds recorded by Alex Salgado of Columbus. Wach- tel also placed second in the 1,600 meters with a time'of4 minutes, 27 seconds to finish just five-hundredths of a sec- ond behind winner Jonathan Myrthil of Northside (Colum- bus). Alford placed seventh in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet. Both Wachtel and Alford captured the Region 2-AAAA championship in their respec- tive disciplines last month. Other MP boys athletes who competed at sectionals but failed to qualify for the state finals included: Alford, who placed 10th in the 400 meters with a time of 52.05 seconds, Myles Johnson, who placed 14th in the 800 meters with a time of 2 minutes, 18 seconds, lamar Fagan, who placed 10th in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.81 seconds, Jaques Watkins, who placed 13th in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 8 inches and placed 1 lth in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 5 inches, Bralen Harvey, who placed 12th in the pole vault with a vault of 9 feet, and Daniel Lavelle, who finished tied for 14th in the discus. Also, MP's No. 1 4 x 100-meter relay team, consisting of Ladamian | MP freshman Justin Wachtel was one of four MP track athletes to qualify for the state finals. Wachtel took first place in the 3,200 meters at the state sectionals in Columbus on Saturday. (File photo) Sands, Alford, Fagan and Cai- 2-AAAA championship in the leb Ussery, placed ninth with a shot put last month. time of 44.56 seconds, missing Other MP girls athletes who out on qualifying for the state competed at sectionals but finals by a single hundredth failed to qualify for the state of a second. Region rival West finals included: Ava McKallip, Laurens finished in eighth place who placed 13th in the 1,600 with a time of 44.55 seconds, meters with a time of 6 min- Meanwhile, two MP girls utes, 10 seconds and placed track athletes will also compete 9th in the 3,200 meters with a in the AAAA state finals after time of 13 minutes, 16 seconds, high finishes at the AAAA state and Destiny Middleton, who sectional meet in Columbus on placed 10th in the long jump Saturday. with a leap of 15 feet, 7 inches. Cheyla Tafolla will compete Also, MP's No. 1 4 x 100-meter in the pole vault while Precious relay team, consisting of Jordan Gaines will compete in the shot Shannon, Daizha Outlaw, put. Judiyah Alford and Middle- Tafolla placed third in the ton, placed 12th with a time of pole vault with a vault of 7 feet, 52.67 seconds. 6 inches while Gaines placed The MP squads competed at eighth in the shot put with sectionals against athletes from a heave of 33 feet, 10 inches. Regions 1-AAAA, 2-AAAA, Gaines captured the Region 5-AAAA and 6-AAAA.