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April 12, 2022

The Bluebird Chronicles: A Catskills Romance

The Bluebird Chronicles: A Catskills Romance

The winter/spring 2022 issue of Appalachia, "America's longest-running journal of mountaineering and conservation," features an essay by Catskills writer Leslie T. Sharpe about our little blue harbinger of spring: the bluebird. In this episode, we have the exclusive audio edition! Leslie narrated her piece for Kaatscast, and we present it here in full. 

Don't forget to tune in next time for a followup interview with Leslie T. Sharpe, author of The Quarry Fox: and other Critters of the Wild Catskills

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Transcript

I watched an early spring at my home in the Catskills, foothills of upstate New York, as Mrs. Bluebird resolutely built her first nest with strands of grass. Established in 1876, Appalachia is America's longest running Journal of mountaineering and conservation, and their latest issue, winter spring 2022, features a new essay by Leslie T. Sharp; The Bluebird Chronicles, a Catskills romance. In this edition of Kaatscast, we offer an exclusive narration of that essay read by the author in our studio, just for you. Kaatscast is sponsored by the Mountain Eagle, covering Delaware, Greene, and Schoharie counties, including brands for local regions like the Windham Weekly, Schoharie News, and Catskills Chronicle. For more information call 518-763-6854 or email mountaineaglenews@gmail.com. And by the 52 mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway following New York State Route 28 through the heart of the central Catskills. For maps, itineraries and links to area restaurants, shops and accommodations, visit sceniccatskills.com. And now a reading of The Bluebird Chronicles; a Catskills romance by Leslie T. Sharp. The Bluebird Chronicles; a Catskills romance for Thomas E. Musselman. A European Starling a lights on the cedar wood nesting box. It starts to peck at the small round entrance hole as if trying to widen it. 'Get away!' I scream rushing down the steps of my front deck and across the lawn to the meadows edge, waving my hands at the startled Starling and notorious bully and glutton of the bird world who retreats swiftly and I am sure sullenly. This is the bluebirds' second nest of the season, sheltered in the box that is securely affixed to the sturdy pine post. The cording male, once he has chosen his domicile, attracts the female by fluttering his wings and flying into the box with nesting material. If his lady love approves, and blue bird females, as I have seen, can be very fussy, she will fly to him and enter the box, thus solidifying their bond. I watched an early spring at my home in the Catskills foothills of upstate New York, as Mrs. Bluebird resolutely built her first nest with strands of grass. I would discover when I checked to ensure the box was free of wasps, bees and other pests that she had threaded the soft, pale grasses with pine needles, and added as embellishments, several turkey feathers. The nest itself was neat; cup shaped and several inches high, which would allow the nestlings when it was time for them to fledge. Easy access to the opening. The male who seeds nest building to his mate, though diligently conducting daily inspections, sat nearby in the Yellow Cedar tree, serenading her with his soft warbling to a wee song while she worked. He was also her resolute Guardian, and assiduous chaperone, swooping down on any other bird that ventured near, another male bluebird rival for her attentions, or even a wild turkey and imposing Tom in full breeding regalia. His feathers iridescent in the sharp spring sunlight, strutting and fanning, oblivious of all; safe his own koi modise females. Yet as fierce as the male bluebird acted in defense of his nest, and therefore his own genetic imperative, he was unfailingly tender to his mate. He flew into the box on those chilly early spring mornings, with a wriggling worm or some other tasty tidbit to feed her as she sat on the eggs incubating them. If she left the nest box to hunt for herself, or simply to sit in the Yellow Cedar tree - mothers of all species it seems need a break - he would enter the box and I assumed resumed the vigil until she returned to ensure that the eggs stayed warm. Papa, as I soon called him, also proved to be a devoted father. From dawn to dusk, the bluebirds work together to feed their ravenous young, bringing them offerings of small invertebrates. Painful to see, a pretty tiger swallowtail butterfly disappeared into the box. They sat atop the flagpole in the front yard, an excellent vantage point from which the blue birds can spy ants, slugs, and caterpillars lurking in the grass, then spiral down to the ground and snatched their prey, carrying it danily back to the nest box. Though Mama had to battle to hold on to a cricket. Sometimes they would just sit there together Mom and Papa and preen each other behavior far more modest than the Tree swallows' antics. The cheeky occupants of a nearby nest box who made it acrobatically and repeatedly atop the flagpole. In the 20 years I have lived on this mountain, I have experienced firsthand the changing climate and its harmful effects on birds, whose populations already suffer from habitat loss, pesticides, and the dangers of spring and fall migrations. Bluebirds especially as early and enthusiastic first nesters, are vulnerable to the increasingly erratic weather. A January a warm spell not just a thought but a week of temperatures approaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit, makes me hold my breath hoping the bluebirds ever eager won't arrive yet. If they do, their nest building quickly falls prey to the cold, inevitable and cruel and the loss of food, as the insects they depend on disappear. I have opened the nest box and found the bluebird parents who haven't even finished their nest dead from the elements. It is heartbreaking to see such vibrant, beautiful creatures so still. Conversely, several seasons ago, after a seemingly normal spring of gradually rising temperatures, the last snowstorm on the mountain came in mid May. That year's pair already had nestlings in the box, and there was no food for the little family. Every morning I was outside at dawn, clearing snow which kept drifting and putting out mealworms; a favorite bluebird food. They took them gratefully a relief to me, as bluebirds won't always accept such gifts from humans; an indication of their desperation, no doubt. Mama bluebird would fly to the deck rail, peering in at me through the living room window as if to say thank you. I was thrilled when I saw five bluebird fledglings flying after their beleaguered parents later that spring. But snow, at least for the little ones in their box is insulating. Perhaps most dangerous to bluebirds and other early nesters such as Tree swallows, is the fact that Catskill springs have become colder and wetter, lasting longer, with chilly penetrating rains. The nest box, though not a perfect haven, offers a home for so many species and a way that humans providing this habitat can make a real difference in the life and survival of all sorts of birds from Rennes to chickadees to owls and songbirds such as the bluebird. The Catskill spring has always been unpredictable and unruly, with winter reluctant to leave. A warm sunny day in April, even May, could be followed by an unexpected snowstorm. So I worried over that May's killing, hard frost when the temperature dip to 25 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive nights. And indeed, opening the box after I was sure all the nestlings had fledged in June, I found a single forlorn egg, left lifeless by the cold. Still, I was relieved not to discover a nestling; dead and desiccated in the nest. The previous April had been cold and rainy, even for the Catskills. Though that pattern is becoming more common with climate change, and provided few insects for last year's nesting pair to feed their young. I left out dried mealworms, fat and protein rich, but that time the bluebirds unused to the feeder refuse to come. I tried putting out piles of dried mealworms on a blue stone boulder that was near the nest box. Still the blue birds ignored my offerings. The Robins, grey squirrels, and Blue Jays gobble the mealworms greedily. Every day I checked to see if the blue birds were still feeding their brood. Then one morning, the parents just disappeared. I hoped against hope. But when I saw a turkey vulture, harbinger of death, sitting atop the nest box, I gasped. Stealing myself against that acrid stench unmistakable, I opened the box to find seven perfectly formed Blue Bird nestlings, their pin feathers tinged with blue, all dead, probably from hypothermia and starvation. I live in nature. I understand that the cycle of life and death rules everything that birds have several nests and many offspring, because so many are lost. But I was devastated. I left the little ones in their nest at the edge of the woods as food for some passing critter, hoping to give their lost lives meaning. But the current season's first nests was successful. I emptied the box of the nest, once they have fledged, the young will not return, and discarded it at some distance so as not to attract a feral cat or enterprising raccoon intent on clawing their way up the post. The bluebirds will happily build a second nest on top of their first, but that new nest higher and thus closer to the entrance hole makes it more vulnerable to predators. Then I sanitize the box with a dilute solution of vinegar and water to protect against parasites such as blowflies, which can weaken and even devour young. As I worked, enjoying the warmth of a sunny June day in the Catskills, the meadows already high fragrant with the sweet, intoxicating scent of pink milkweed flowers, I hope that the bluebird parents would return to the cedar wood nesting box, now cleared and clean to their careful specifications to raise their second brood. Summer, even in the moody changeable Catskills, a place of soft morning mists and sudden thunderstorms is a kinder season. John Burroughs, famed Catskills tramper and celebrant of these hills, naturalist in nature writer, was dazzled by blue birds. In his poem, The Blue Bird, Burroughs celebrates the blue birds; 'As your coat and ruddy vest, as hues that April loveth best, and I blue wings a joyous sight, among the brown and leafless trees.' As you're the color of the summer sky, is the adjective burrows favors when describing the blue of the male Eastern Bluebird. The female lacks the bright iridescence of her mate. She is grayish buff above with light blue tinge is in her tail and wings and her breast is a subdued orange wash. The winter sky has sharp; a cut crystal sapphire. The spring sky is soft washed; as pale as a robin's egg. The high summer sky, with its dome of deep infinite blue, is the fulfillment of the bluebird's promise when that first thrilling as your flesh defies winters bleakness; a reprimand of its recalcitrance, which turns our hearts toward hope. All of our cliches, the bluebird of happiness, the Bluebird, a symbol of good fortune and friendship, love, joy and even fertility, which make it an enduring motif of American folk art, from pottery and painting to Pennsylvania Dutch HEC signs, as well as a favorite subject of poetry and popular songs. The iconic 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Bluebirds Fly,' and even a beloved if corny caricature of Disney cartoons; cheery bluebirds as Cinderella's bridal couturiers, and Snow White's woodland escort. All of our cliches become new again in spring at the side of the Bluebird, one of our earliest returning migrants. In his essay, The Bluebird, Burroughs wrote, 'When nature made the Bluebird, she wished to propitiate both the sky and the earth. So she gave him the color of the one on his back, and the other on his breast, and ordained the his appearance in spring should denote that the strife and war between the two elements was at an end. The bluebirds plumage, summer sky blue, his belly as weight as a cumulus cloud, his ready vests the color of rich Catskills clay, this small songbird, a passerine of the genus C. Alia of the thrush family, personifies in his being nature itself.' The Starling appears only once in Shakespeare. Unfortunately, that brief reference was not lost on Eugene Schieffelin. Schieffelin, a wealthy New Yorker and Shakespeare devote, was determined to bring all the birds the bard mentioned to America. Of these, only European starlings brash and bossy survived, establishing themselves as resident aliens. Fifty years after eighty starlings were released in Central Park in 1880, they had colonized cities, suburbs, and even rural areas across North America. Their success was a cautionary tale, still being told with increasing urgency today. Invasive that is non native species, flora and fauna often have no natural enemies in their new environments, and like the starlings are highly adaptable and opportunistic. Native species, especially plants are prone to being usurped by these invaders, which provide fewer quality food sources for pollinators, notably honey bees and birds. Exotic invasive species invariably introduced by human activity, pose a singular threat to our natural ecosystems, and farmlands. In 1939, Rachel Carson praised the European Starling for his successful pioneering and his service and insect destruction. Clearly, by then, the pioneers had not yet morphed into marauders, flying in flocks in the hundreds to pillage crops and raid feed stores. But in the 1930s, noted ornithologist Frank Chapman warned that the Starling already posed a serious threat to other cavity nesters, in particular the Eastern Bluebird. The aggressive Starlings readily rousted the smaller bluebirds from their territory, which was beginning to be compromised by habitat loss due to development and the increasing use of pesticides. The Starling sees the blue birds nesting sites natural tree cavities and old woodpecker holes, even openings in wooden fence posts. Dr. Lawrence Zeleny, founder of the North American Bluebird Society, wrote in a 1977 article, 'During the past 40 years, the population of the eastern bluebird may have plummeted by as much as 90%.' 'Extinction,' Zeleny concluded, 'was a real possibility.' Dr. Thomas E. Musselman, a gentle godfather to millions of bluebirds, invented the bluebird box that brought the bluebirds back. An accomplished naturalist, a member of the first class in ecology ever taught at the University of Illinois, Musselman observed as early as 1926 that bluebird populations were falling precipitously in Adams County, Illinois, because Starlings and those other invasives House Sparrows, usurped nesting cavities. Nestboxes, made of varying materials wood, clay, even tree branches, had long been in use to attract insectivores especially the bluebirds prize for their beauty and sweet melodic song, as well as their insect catching skills. What Musselman did was tailor the box specifically to the bluebird with attention to the entrance hole, ventilation, drainage, floor dimension, cavity depth, all relating to bluebird territorial imperatives. In 1934, Musselman erected his first bluebird trail; a series of 25 bucks is set 100 yards or so apart, and subject to regular monitoring and maintenance to keep the nests clean, dry, and free of parasites and predators. In the intervening years, Musselman original design has been modified and improved, but his basic principles of Bluebird Box and especially Bluebird Trail construction are still relevant. My own modest Bluebird Trail of six nest boxes stands along the edge of sunny meadows near an expanse of mown grass, which offers these insectivores ample food to feed their nestlings. Cedar wood, rot and insect resistance, which weathers to gray, providing a sort of natural camouflage, makes adorable nestbox material. Each box features a slanted roof to shed rain and offer shade and overhang to deter predators, a ventilation slot directly below the roof, and several small drainage holes, which I drilled in the floor of each to rid the nest of excess moisture. Perhaps most crucial is the round entrance hole with no perch to deter how sparrows, which must be no more than one and a half inches in diameter to prevent those pesky starlings from entering. What Musselman, the father of modern bluebird conservation techniques, did was inspire a conservation movement; one of the most successful ever. Boy Scouts, backyard birders, Audubon honors, and many dedicated citizen scientists banded together to save the Eastern Bluebird. In 1964, Ralph K. Bell, poultry farmer in rural Pennsylvania, started a Bluebird Trail of about 200 boxes on utility poles along his egg delivery route. As many as 800 bluebirds fledged every year. In 1999, thanks to such grassroots efforts, which continue, the Eastern Bluebird was removed from New York State's endangered, threatened and special concern list. The bluebirds current conservation status, remarkable really, considering its recent history, is least concern population increasing. Still, blue birders remain vigilant and have been known to snap the neck of house sparrows; another aggressive non native species imported from England to New York City in the 19th century to control insects. Sparrow seize nesting boxes, often pecking bluebird nestlings and their parents to death. There are successful so called passive ways of dealing with these invasive birds. One is simply not to put up boxes near dwellings inhabited by humans, which attract the aptly named house sparrows. Musselman observed, 'I found little competition from English or House Sparrows, except where the boxes were placed close to a farm, house or barn. Another strategy is simply to remove the house sparrows nest, which may take several efforts as male house sparrows are dogged and determined home builders; and of course increasingly, one can affix gizmos to a box that supposedly deter house sparrows, while not discouraging bluebirds from nesting. Aside from the ethics of favoring one species, such as the Bluebird, native to North America, over a more common introduced one, and the larger question of how much we should interfere in nature, even to write our own past interferences. The killing of the house sparrow, that cheerful if homicidal denizen of city streets, appalled me. How I wondered, before I erected my own bluebird trail before the bluebirds tenanted one of my own nesting boxes. Could the bluebirds excite such passions?' The summer Catskills are a place of cool grays of morning mists and evening clouds and afternoon thunderstorms rolling across the mountains, and the ever shifting wind bringing relief. But during naturalize heatwave, even the wind blew hot; a mountain sirocco. Extreme heat, like extreme cold, can be lethal for birds, especially for new hatchlings who can't yet regulate their body temperature. In the pitiless heat, I would find for Eastern Phoebe nestlings lying on the ground. One was already dead. The others eyes closed, their bodies bloated, their tiny bills gaping for food. I guess that their mother, whose nest beneath my back deck was unusually high - the Phoebe's small graves flight catches within incessant but endearing cry of Phoebe, Phoebe - nests there every year, had toppled it on her flight in and out to feed her young. Then again red squirrels could have felt it or chipmunks hunting for eggs, though both will take nestlings too. If I had discovered the Phoebe sooner, before the sun had blistered them, perhaps I could have replaced them in the remnants of their nest. But now, the only possible intervention and kindness was to kill them. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. 'You can't let them suffer,' said Jeremy, my friend and handyman who every year carefully covers the corner of the deck that shelters the Phoebe nest underneath when he power washes it. He took the sorry little family gently from me. 'It'll be quick,' he reassured me. That night, lying in bed, I would think how sad it was that the Phoebes had never known rain. Extreme heat can also be deadly for eggs, frying them in a weird nesting box, where it can be 10 degrees hotter than outside. As the temperature soared into the 90s and I saw a mama bluebird sitting atop the flagpole panting, I was stricken with fear for her and her babies to be. The tableau of the foreign little Phoebes had affected me deeply. I hadn't been able to help them. Nor had I been able to save a young Barn Swallow its siblings had pushed out of the nest onto a metal rafter right under the roof of my carport. Its parents had constructed a nest that was too small, a messy cup of mud, grass and errant feathers. I had guarded the Fallen nestling through much of that day, picking it up and moving it into the shade when I kept straying into the sunshine. Its parents were frantic, trying to feed their offspring, and I soon realized I was only agitating them with help. I finally left the little Barney, not yet old enough to fly looking dazed. Sitting on the inverted lid of a trash can off the ground; safe, I hoped from predators. In the morning, though it was gone, and the parents were busy with their remaining brood. Nature is not sentimental. Animals in the wild have one mandate; to propagate their species, which is why birds have so many young the bluebird lays four to seven eggs. Many of them have more than one brood. The bluebirds average lifespan in the wild is one to two years. It's many predators include the red tailed hawk, that the vigilante crows routinely rouse from the stately shagbark hickory tree on my property. Bluebirds and all birds spring and fall migrations are fraught with danger from storms, predators, and for those who fly at night, especially the possibility of slamming into buildings. The bluebird, a shy bird without benefit of the tree swallows swooping speed, or the aggressiveness of the starling and how Sparrow, is at a decided disadvantage, especially against its avian competitors. Critters die routinely, which is the reason for my own first naturalists rule, which I had now broken yet again. Never fall in love with wild animals and never named them, as I had named the bluebirds, Mama and Papa. A quick web search revealed that to protect nesting bluebirds from heat, I should attach a small umbrella to the box. Having neither a small umbrella or any possible way to attach it. I instead dugout a garish beach umbrella decorated with fluorescent dayglo flowers I had buried in my basement and erected it in the pristine meadow at an angle to deflect the high sun from the box. As I tried to secure it to the four by four inch pine post, Papa alarmed, fluttered about my head. He seemed unconvinced I was trying to help. Then I bumped into the box chasing mama from her nest. The two of them flew off and I panicked that I might have driven them away. To my relief the parents soon returned and the weary braved the umbrella, refusing to sacrifice their family to this meddling mad woman. But by the next morning, the hot mountain wind had blown the umbrella over. It was blocking the boxes entrance and Mama, frantic, was unable to get in. I quickly took down the umbrella as the parents eyed me from their perch in the cedar tree. The temperature was already in the 90s and although the box faced east with its opening away from the afternoon sun, there was no shade at all. So I salvaged a wide brim straw hat worthy of Monet á Giverny from my closet and fixed it to the top of the box, giving it the appearance of a stylish if demure scarecrow. Again, I waited as the birds overcame their initial hesitation. Papa landed on the hat as if to vanquish it. As I had seen him land on a chipping Sparrow fledgling that had strayed too close to the box, driving the bewildered youngster away. I also decided to wet down the box several times a day, setting the hose nozzle to a fine mist, which the bluebirds would fly through happily. Clearly, we were in this together. The weather broke after a week, and soon I finally saw what I had been hoping for; Papa, not just mama entering the box, both bearing insects, food for their hatchlings who had survived the relentless heat. But several days later, my elation was tempered by concern. Where was Papa Bluebird? Only Mama was feeding their young, flying busily in and out of the box. I watched for him with increasing desperation that day and into the next. But Papa never appeared, and I knew that he, the ever faithful vigilant father, must be dead. Then, still hoping, as I scan the meadow for some sign of Papa, the morning doves and young Eastern cottontails still fairly guileless, silly rabbits, indeed, which were lounging openly out on the lawn, suddenly scattered as a large bird past overhead, casting a dark shadow that moved ominously over the grass. I heard at first, 'Cree! Cree! Cree!', the caustic cry of a red tailed hawk. Then I saw the hawk; it's red tail visible even at a distance, flying high over the meadow being chased by crows, sleek and shiny in the sun, who had recognized a predator more dangerous than they. Instinctively, without even a thought, I reached for my air rifle very accurate, which I normally used for target practice of varies and activity when nesting season is over, and loaded it. The rifle uses pellets but it can kill birds and small game. I had never shot at any living thing, let alone something as majestic as a red tail. But I would not let the blue bird nestlings be orphaned. I would not let Mama be taken too. Then I lift the air rifle out on the front deck, leaning up against the house and depended on the crows to alert me. The next morning I awoke to a cacophony of calling. From my living room window I spied a black cloud of crows circling a dying oak tree at the far edge of the meadow. Through binoculars, I saw a sight that made me gasp, two red tailed hawks sitting on a bear branch, ignoring the raucous crows, who were intent on mobbing them, a behavior that birds use to drive predators out of their territory, especially in nesting season. Suddenly, I felt a surge of rage; a rage spike with protectiveness and even a desire for revenge. What had happened I would wonder, to the naturalist who had so coolly chronicled the bluebirds first nest of the season. From their arrival in early April to the day their last hatchling fledged in June, who understood more than most that nature is morally neutral and different even. That it holds no grudges, or even any special likes. That it seeks only to survive. I snatched my air rifle from where it stood centre on the front porch, got into my old green Subaru, which was almost camouflaged in brown mountain mud, and brakes off, rolled down the dirt road to the tree with a Red Tails we're still sitting, though the ever cautious crows quickly dispersed at my approach. The irony of the rough hewn wooden sign I had affixed to my front gate was not lost on me as I passed it; 'Lazy Hawk Mountain' it read in tribute to a young read tale of several summers ago that seemed to prefer riding the thermals of a hot, sunny day to honing its hunting skills. I admired birds of prey, such skillful fliers those sublime assassins of the sky and appreciated their place in nature. Could I really kill one species? One beautiful and necessary if deadly species to save another? The hawks were high up in the tree, but this was a high powered air rifle and I am a good shot. For a moment, I just sat there breathing. Then I got out, close the car door quietly. But before I could even raise the rifle to my shoulder, to my relief, the Red Tails flapped off down the mountain. They had recognized the real predator; the human one, me. I never shot at the red tailed hawks. I didn't have to. Would I have? Could I have? Doubtful. But still, my fellow bluebirders were sympathetic when I told them my tale. 'Without the blue birds,' one said nodding and understanding, 'there would be no spring.' But another friend scolded me for even considering shooting Red Tails, her totem animal she called them, while dismissing the slaying of nuisance house sparrows as necessary, leaving me to contemplate how relative the value is we place on life, human as well as avian. The crows; who gleefully steal eggs and hatchlings. I once saw a crow flying with a nest and its bill being pursued by irate Red Wing blackbirds kept the Hawks at bay. I knew that the bluebirds once they fledged until they were adults would be vulnerable to the crows as well as the Red Tails. But in protecting their own territory, the crows, for now at least in nature's irony and symmetry, were protecting the bluebirds too. Still, I monitored the nesting box anxiously with a name and telephone number of a local songbird rehabilitator, trained to foster baby birds even this young, at the ready. I still feared for Mama bluebird. Even if she escaped the hawks, I knew how difficult it was for a single bluebird parent to successfully fledge a brood of hatchlings on her or his own, and I was also concerned that any weaker nestlings might be neglected, or even abandoned by Mama, who had worked so tirelessly without her mate. Then, one morning, nearly three weeks later, a grayish bluebird fledgling with dark spots on its back and breast, so drab compared with its brilliant parents, especially of course, Papa landed clumsily lay on my deck rail. I watched enthralled as Mama cajoled its siblings into leaving the nesting box, flying to the box, peeking in, flying away again encouraging them to follow her. She wasn't feeding them, I also noticed; a powerful incentive for a hungry young bird to brave that first flight. Then, the remaining nestlings started to zoom out; one by one, as if they were on a runway. To my delight, the new fledglings all landed on the railing of the deck where they sat wildly, looking around, stunned and somewhat disheveled, until their mother joined them. If it's possible for a bird to look pale and worn, she sure did. When Mama arrived, she cocked her head at her fuzzy little fledglings, as if counting them. One. Two. Three. Four. Then satisfied they were all there, she flew off, leading her bright new blue birds into the nearby woods, where she would feed them until they were old enough and strong enough to fend for themselves. Papa would have been proud. The Bluebird Chronicles, a Catskills romance, appears in the current issue of Appalachia, and was narrated for Kaatscast by the author Leslie T. Sharp. Join us next time for an interview with Leslie, author of The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills with an audiobook edition published by Silver Hollow Audio in 2020. Kaatscast has a brand new website with expanded coverage, links to our sponsors and a robust search feature across all our episodes, and you can sign up for our twice a month newsletter. Check it out at kaatscast.com, and please vote for us in this year's Chronogrammies, where we were nominated for Best Regional Podcast. There's a link in the show notes. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you again in two weeks. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai / JL