At the shoestring vineyard, we try to cultivate natural allies in the quest to produce the perfect grape. as i mentioned previously, we are friends of the hawks hunting the grounds of the fenced proofing and viognier acre. we expecially like the ancient oystershells that litter the landscape, providing calcium as they slowly, slowly disintergrate. our next target in our quest for low-cost/impact natural alliances? bluebirds.
bluebirds have been sited at the farm, previously. wide open fields surrounded by timber makes the farm excellent bluebird habitat. bluebirds eat ground dwelling insects, especially grubs, so they are considered a welcome addition to the vineyard field. they also eat small fruit. hmm. we'll keep an eye on them, but they could do no worse than last year's hornet mob and they are far prettier fellows.
the boys' stayed with my parents during springbreak, my father--the handy wood craftsman he is--decided the kids would all make birdhouses. he cut the wood according to plan and all the grandkids sanded and assembled their own house. boy2's house is at our townie. this year, we are growing tree swallows--my favorite bird. i love to watch them swoop the lake behind our townie, taking sips of water or grabbing an insect as they fly. the poor bluebirds were too late and ended up watching sorrowfully as the swallows claimed the housing. a couple of territorial skirmishes ended in the swallows' favor. boy1's house is situated on the proofing field, right behind the big rusty tank. we just put the house up a weekend ago, so have yet to see if a couple has interest. we think we could get a family in before the bird netting goes up.
really cool: see the sources section for a bluebird nest cam. they are predicting hatching by may 22!