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Friday, May 6, 2016

Eye on agriculture: Interview with Dr. Mark Costley

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monett FFA member Leanna Marion interviewed Dr. Mark Costley about the bluebird restoration project he has been conducting on his farm in Monett.
Q. What is your involvement with agriculture?

A. Well, I own a farm with my mother. My grandma bought 120 acres back in 1895, and then my parents got another 60 acres next to hers in 1958. My grandparents grew strawberries, and my dad raised beef cattle.

Q. How did you get interested in bluebirds?

A. One of my patients, Jack Weldy, told me about his bluebird experience. I was always interested in agriculture and conservation.

Q. Describe your bluebird restoration project and when you started it.

A. I started in the early 1990s around 1993 or 1995. The last 10 years have grown very much. It helps me stay in touch with nature.

Q. Do you build your own birdhouses?

A. Yes. I have my own design. I use cedar because it lasts longer. The box is five inches tall and each house needs to be about 300 feet apart from one another.

Q. Are there certain requirements that bluebirds have to raise their young successfully?

A. Well, again the boxes need to be 300 feet apart. The box needs to be facing north-northeast. It helps if they are about 35 feet to the nearest tree also.

Q. How many blue birds have you hatched since the beginning?

A. Probably around 40 to 80 a year for about 10 years. There are normally two to six eggs in a nest.

Q. Are you involved with any other wildlife management on your land?

A. I do quail restoration, which is also good for deer and turkey. We have food plots and manage the land for quail.

Q. How would you describe the nest that they make?

A. The nests are made out of mainly grass, but in order for them to raise young successfully, the boxes need to be checked to ensure that sparrows aren't nesting inside.

Q. Are there factors that affect the bluebird population?

A. Cats, raccoons, snakes and sparrows.

Q. Is there any information you would like to share about the bluebirds?

A. I just wish that more people would have nests up. They are family birds, so every generation helps raise the next.

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