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July 13, 2011
A male bluebird sits atop one of the houses put up along the Johnson Bluebird Trail southwest of town. ©Provost News Photo.
Johnson Bluebird Trail Spawns 12,000 Birds Here Over Four Decades
•100 Years of Bluebirding Efforts Bring Populations Up
(Expert bluebirder Lois M. Johnson of Provost was recently invited by The News to update readers on bluebirding in the area and following is her submission):

Recently I had occasion to reflect on fluctuations in mountain bluebird population in our area over the past 100 years. As many people have expressed interest in the status of birds on the Johnson Bluebird Trail south west of town following the severe storm in April of 2008, I would like to share some findings.

One hundred years ago the Province of Alberta was only six years old; a steady stream of settlers were arriving in the area; Provost had been a village for one year and many businesses were prospering. We had a railway but no telephone. However, I have yet to find recorded evidence of the first sighting of bluebirds in the Provost area. Prairie grassland was plentiful in these early years, but their primary nesting sites were lacking.

Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters. Mature poplar trees attract woodpeckers which make cavities for their nests and thus provide a nesting area for the bluebird next year.

I’d like to quote from my book “Blue Wings Wild Roses” to explain this more clearly: “Originally (mountain bluebirds) were dependent on natural places to build nests. Old woodpecker excavations, knot holes, cavities in clay banks or peeling tree bark were available. With the arrival of the settlers, efforts to control natural prairie fires brought increased groves of aspen poplar and less short-grass prairie. (Originally this tree growth was beneficial to the mountain bluebird – but . . . ). Mature trees were harvested to provide lumber for buildings and for heating and cooking fuel. Land was also cleared of trees and the sod broken to plant crops. Though bluebirds adapted to nesting in twine boxes on grain binders, this was not enough.”

“The extensive loss in habitat placed mountain bluebirds in jeopardy. The spread of starlings and house sparrows — introduced to North America in 1851 and 1890, respectively — also contributed to their decline.”
During the 1960s and ’70s naturalists recognized the bluebirds were in trouble and rallied to the cry “Bring Back the Bluebirds” by providing artificial nesting sites for these birds. My husband Roger and I were part of that group. We spotted our first bluebird south-east of Provost in 1969 and started by building 13 houses that winter.

Rest of story in July 13 edition of The Provost News.
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Letter to the Editor
Provost, Alta.

Concerned Residents of Provost

As immigrants to Canada and living in Provost, we would like to voice our opinion and experience with the community. We do find it to be very quiet and peaceful here but we have had encounters which we do find very impolite.

Due to the fact that we are from a different race does not mean that we ought to be treated differently (and we speak on behalf of all immigrants and newcomers to the community) as we are of firm belief that we are the same in spite of our colour and race. It is with utmost contempt and displeasure that we say this and have to go as far as to put our story in the newspaper. One day we were walking downtown when all of a sudden a white pick-up truck drove past us and someone shouted the word ‘negro’. We have had other experiences as well but this we find to be the most outrageous and impolite and as far as we are concerned it is only someone who is uneducated and ignorant would go as far as to say such callous thing.

What does this say about the community? From our perspective, it doesn’t look good at all. Newcomers need to feel welcome and be free no matter where they live and so residents need to accept this and be more open about things. We live in a multi-culture society and so we need to be more conscious and open to other race, culture, ethnicity and lifestyle without being judgemental or withdrawn.

It is so embarrassing to be walking on the street, see someone and greet them with a smile and say hello to which we get no response (we have had this experience on more than one occasion) much less to be called the above word which I mentioned earlier. We are rather disgruntled and aggravated about this and we just want to say that whoever said that must be an uneducated, illiterate and ignorant individual with very poor upbringing and behaviour. We say this without apologizing and I do hope that the person who made that comment reads this letter.

In conclusion, we just want to say that Provost is a very unique town but the minority of people that lives here and is against other races needs to wake-up, smell the coffee and be polite. We are living in a modern and civilized society therefore they need to adjust to that!

Denise Rodney-Budhram

Print version in July 13 edition of The Provost News.
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Street Spokesman
This week we ask: "What Do You Want to Do This Summer?"
. . . and we heard answers from Glen Allen Nash, Jessica Oscroft, James MacRae and Tom Watt. Check out the July 13 edition of The Provost News for their answers.
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