The beauty of a bluebird
By Paige Grzenia
KEWAUNEE COUNTY – Don Pritzl has been the Kewaunee County Coordinator for the Bluebird Association of Wisconsin since 1992.
The main goal of the Bluebird Association is to “put out artificial nest boxes to increase the numbers of the cavity nesting birds, primarily bluebirds,” said Pritzl.
Other cavity nesting birds include tree swallows and wrens.
Nest boxes are artificial nests that mimic natural ones to give more places for cavity nesters to nest since they normally like to nest in natural tree cavities.
Pritzl began being involved with the association when he was back in Manitowoc County, as a young man working on the farm.
There was a lane lined with cedar fence posts, for the cows to follow back to the pasture, that were hollow and had bluebird nests in them and that got him interested in bluebirds.
Once he got to Kewaunee County, he then started putting up nesting boxes to see if he could attract the bluebirds.
Pritzl says that his role as the Kewaunee County coordinator is to “set up bluebird trails in the county and monitor the results throughout the year, and then report those results to the Bluebird Association at the end of the year. I am also asked to try to promote more people setting up bluebird trails and putting out nest boxes.”
Recently, Pritzl has had success with his bluebird trails.
“In 2020, I had 59 boxes out and I fledged 228 bluebirds and then in that winter of 2020, there was a bad ice storm. The bluebird winters in Texas and across the southern states and there was a bad ice storm particularly in Texas in the winter of 2020. So, the next year there were very few bluebirds that returned to the Midwest to nest. So, I had the same number of boxes out, 59, and I fledged only 63 young ones. Now this past summer, 2023, I had 50 boxes out and I fledged 128, so it’s not great yet but it’s coming back, so it’s encouraging,” said Pritzl.
Fledging is done after birds hatch to help them leave the nest.
When asked what his favorite part of the job is, Pritzl said, “Well, I still get a big kick out of, if I open up the box in spring and I see the nice, neat bluebird nest with the five sky blue eggs in them, I still get a kick out of that.”
“You never miss what you never had”, said Pritzl about the beauty of the bluebirds, as he hopes that they don’t go extinct and more people get involved with helping them.
He believes that “If you ever saw the beautiful blue back of the male bluebird, you would be hooked.”
Lastly, Pritzl noted that since he is getting up there in age, he invites anyone who is interested in helping with his bluebird trails or in beginning their own trail to contact him at (620) 845-2436.