Monday, July 17, 2017

Birding with Allan

Allan invited Connie and myself to join him as he checked on his 'bird boxes'.  

He has built over 200 of these boxes and has them stationed on fence posts throughout the river valley.  The boxes are mainly for mountain blue birds but other birds have taken up residence as well.

Farmer's have given the okay for Allen to install his boxes and we were checking to see if they were being well used.

 When he slipped the first nest out so we could see the eggs, I gasped.  "My parents always told me not to touch the eggs or babies because the mother bird would abandon them."

To which, Allen said, "All parents tell their kids that but it isn't true.  (They really fear baby birds being incubated in the kid's bedroom.)  The mother birds will not leave the babies, no matter what."   

He proved it by lifting this mother off her nest of babies.  As soon as he released her she was back in the box and sitting on her babies.


Allan says he has put out over two hundred boxes now and they are very popular with the blue birds....

...and the babies. 

We saw a number of different kinds of birds ...

...and it was interesting how docile they were when handled.  I was starting to believe the birds knew it was Allan and had decided he was okay.

 Just look at this featherless little baby.  Isn't it cute?

This is not the only kind of bird house that he has built.

 He has several of these around some of the local sloughs.  The tubs are for the geese who usually lay eggs on the ground, but the eggs are always at risk of being eaten by various hungry mammals.  The geese didn't need instructions but happily adopted these nesting bowls.

However,  this is Allan's proudest achievement.  Can you see the pole on the opposite side of the slough?  

 It is a nesting platform for ospreys.

And this one has several babies in the nest.  
The following is an excerpt from a book by Bob Enever, "Steamboat's Osprey Family".  Mr. Enever included this piece about Allan.

Allan Reishus is a retired MD who lives in Craig, Colorado and was the first person to erect a platform and encourage the introduction of ospreys  to the Yampa Valley. 

"Why aren't there ospreys nesting in the Valley?" was the question that came to Allan in the early 2000s.  "I had marveled at the massive nests near Silverthorne and witnessed the spectacular dives of parent ospreys.....  State biologists said it was possibly because of the lack of nesting sites.

So I gathered plans for the nests and built two.  The local electric co-op offered two used 45 foot poles.  Landowners along the river gave me permission to erect the poles.  People volunteered, ready to assist.  A local power line contractor agreed to erect the two towers at no charge. In 2009 the first platform was erected.

Two nesting seasons passed.  In the Spring of 2012, first one, then to my great joy. another osprey appeared.  That summer a single young bird was fledged.  I watched over the nest and the young bird almost daily, like a nervous new dad.  
The next year this nest and another were occupied and have been for 4 consecutive years, fledging a  total of 19 birds from those two nesting platforms."

Two more platforms were erected in 2013, one of which was occupied in 2016..  The Yampa River valley is now home to a healthy and growing population of these fantastic fish hawks.

(And from an email from him that recently arrived "...the 3 occupied osprey nests we looked at have 3, 3 and 2 young, so a very good crop this year, if all survive to fledging." )


  1. I would love to visit Allan and his bird friends. This year we had 2 broods of baby cardinals nesting in my hanging begonia pot. It was such fun watching the busy parents feeding their babies. Hope all is well with you and Daisy. Take care and safe travels.

  2. Toni - I'm having a ton of fun re-living our days with you last month. Your photos are fabulous !

  3. Linda, if you and Jamie are ever in Colorado let me know. I am sure Allan would enjoy giving you a tour of his bird boxes.
    Connie, Thank you for the complement on the photos. Writing the blog gives me a chance to revisit and relive the experiences. It's like seeing everything twice.

  4. Oh my gosh, what an amazing hobby! Absolutely fun! I'm jealous! Right now I have an active bird nest in my tool bag under my bicycle seat. There is a little tool bag that lives right under my bicycle seat and it holds a spare tire and all the tools nessesary to change a flat...but someone stole all the goods and left the bag unzipped and open. A bird moved in and there are eggs in it too! I have seen the bird and she has great music. Helping birds is such a fun hobby, even if you live in the city like I do. Awesome work, Allan! Janice