Bob Hursh, a longstanding BMC member known fondly by some as The Birdman of Braemar, has for over 30 years been both an avid golfer and an avid bird watcher.  A passionate hobby of Bob’s is building and installing “nest boxes” primarily meant to attract bluebirds to the metro area, particularly at Braemar.  If you’re like me, you may never have paid much attention to the several dozen bluebird nest boxes at Braemar, even though they’re scattered all over the golf course.  These boxes are smaller than the larger ones you’ll see near some of Braemar’s ponds, meant to attract wood ducks and mergansers.

The nest boxes for bluebirds are set up on metal poles that protect the birds from predators. During your next round, look carefully and you’ll see nest boxes for bluebirds everywhere, including holes 1,2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16.

These boxes provide an ideal environment for “small cavity nesting birds” (bluebirds, chickadees, tree swallows, and wrens) to build nests, lay eggs, and raise their young.  Those bird species are territorial and won’t nest near another of their kind.  That’s why the boxes are paired, placed 15 to 20 feet apart, so that if a chickadee or tree swallow uses one box, the other is available for bluebirds. The impact of Braemar’s nest boxes on the local bluebird population has been significant– nearly 1,600 fledged over the past 30 years.

At Braemar, although someone else originally set up the first bluebird trail, Bob, in partnership with golf course management, has worked to expand the trail and monitor what are now 65 nest boxes around the golf course.  Throughout each summer Bob regularly checks the boxes to see if bluebird nests have been established, if eggs have been laid, if babies have hatched and if the newborns have been “fledged” (left the nest).

Recently, Bob reported on how those efforts are faring so far this year. In 2023, 49 bluebird eggs were laid, 47 birds hatched and 46 were fledged.  These numbers are up nicely from the last couple of years—but well behind 2020. Many conditions can affect outcomes: the survival rate of the birds during their migrations south and over the winter, among others.

In addition to the championship golf course, Bob has also installed nest boxes on The Academy 9, and near the golf dome, the ice arena and other areas. Another of Bob’s initiatives has involved encouraging the propagation of purple martins.  Next year he plans to add a second purple martin house, supplementing the box on the 12th hole that he installed this spring.  Funds for the first house were provided by the Braemar Golf Association (BGA).

If you keep your eyes open on your next round, maybe you’ll discover a case of the blues that actually makes you feel good.  And, if you run into Bob, you might ask him about his favorite hobby. Turns out it’s fishing.

Dick Helde
Past BMC President
Editor, The Virtual 19th Hole