Getting ready for the arrival of the bluebirds

Jerry Apps
Jerry Apps' son-in-law, Paul, is in charge of maintaining the 22 bluebird houses at the farm up in Waushara County. Some houses are 20-plus years old.

Last Sunday was house cleaning day at Roshara. Bluebird houses, that is. We have 22 of them, and I’m happy to report that 19 had birds in them last summer. But, not all bluebirds. More tree swallows than bluebirds. We prefer the bluebirds.

To indicate the half-mile boundary line between my brother’s land and my land, we have a long string of bluebird houses. No fence. My son-in-law, Paul, is in charge of the bluebird houses, some of which are twenty and more years old. He repairs them, replaces those that are falling apart, and he, with my daughter, Sue, make sure they are cleaned out and ready for this year’s occupants.

About now is when the bluebirds return from their sunny home in the south to the cooler summers in the north. They are beautiful birds. As someone once wrote: The male bluebird carries on his back the blue of heaven and on his breast the summer sun. Adding to its beauty, a most pleasant song.

One of our bluebird houses is but a few feet from our vegetable garden. One of the pleasures from working in the garden is watching the bluebirds come and go from their house. And listening to their soothing song. Unfortunately, over the fifty-plus years that we have had bluebird houses at Roshara, the number of bluebirds occupying the houses has gone down. But that doesn’t deter us from welcoming those who do come.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Let us not forget to appreciate and enjoy the songbirds of summer, especially the bluebirds.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to