The following article originally appeared in the 1-12-04 edition of the Kearney Hub.
Written by Tammy Skrdlant, Hub Regional Editor.

Bird watching pastime grows into nest box-building hobby

HAZARDCraig Lammers is awed by the way the sun hits the wings of a bluebird.

"It's kind of neat just to watch them," he said.

Lammers was introduced to bluebirds about three years ago. His mother, Donna, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. While she underwent treatment, friends Bob and Marlene Rasmussen of Litchfield brought over some bluebird next boxes, information and pictures.

Marlene is the Sherman County coordinator for Bluebirds Across Nebraska.

Lammers' dad, Leroy R. Lammers, put two of the boxes up at Lammers' home.

"I really didn't think that they would attract a bluebird, for I had never seen a bluebird before and didn't think they would move right in if they were there," he said. "It didn't take very long and a family of bluebirds moved in. I couldn't believe it."

Lammers built a few more nest boxes so his family could monitor more nests. That year, the Lammerses fledged 50 bluebirds and six tree swallows.

Last winter, Lammers built 100 nest boxes for people who may be interested in the hobby. Marlene Rasmussen gave several away at an informational session about bluebirds. Jacie Zoerb of rural Litchfield received one of the boxes, and as a result corresponds frequently with Lammers.

When he was building the boxes, he cut out parts for all the boxes. Assembly went quickly after that, but painting by brush took 20 minutes for each box. A spray gun cut painting time to about a minute per box.

Most of his boxes are made of wood, and Lammers looks for lumber sales. "Whenever I can find scrap lumber, I do my best to get it," he said. He used PVC pipe on another box.

He has made about 20 more nest boxes since last winter. His current woodworking project is constructing a bar in the basement of his home northeast of Hazard.

Bluebird Across Nebraska keeps track of fledged birds, meaning birds that have grown up in a nest. Members take weekly counts of the eggs and hatched birds and check to see if any birds have left the nest. At the end of the year, the organization can tell if the bluebird population has increased for decreased, Lammers said.

Though not a member of Bluebirds Across Nebraska, Lammers continues to check about 20 nest boxes. While he can't get too close to the birds, "they don't seem to be super scared," he said.

The birds are seen mostly in spring, summer and fall, but Lammers has seen them as late in the year as November.

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