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Culpeper friends plant oak in memory of bluebird conservationist
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Culpeper friends plant oak in memory of bluebird conservationist

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Friends of a local bluebird conservationist and former Main Street florist gathered in Mountain Run Lake Park last week to plant a pin oak tree in his memory.

Jim Hall, who passed in December, was a longtime Culpeper resident who enjoyed hiking through the scenic park on its bluebird trail to monitor the bluebird boxes placed there along with fellow local members of the Virginia Bluebird Society.

The Fredericksburg-based society promotes bluebird conservation projects, monitors nest box trails throughout the state and collects data on native cavity dwellers.

On their many hikes in the Culpeper County park, Hall and Jim Outcalt would fix any problems with the bluebird boxes and discard old nests after the bluebird chicks had flown the nest, said Boston, Virginia resident Brion Patterson, a fellow society member who shared about the recent memorial tree planting. Culpeper Public Works assisted with the effort.

Outcalt said Hall loved the walk and the chance to view the bluebirds in their boxes.

“He had a sense of doing good,” he said.

Outcalt added Hall would be extremely humbled at the recent tree planting in his memory.

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In addition to looking after bluebirds, Hall ran a flower shop, Forget Me Not Florist, in the ‘80s with his sister, Linda Wray, Outcalt said. It was located on North Main Street in Culpeper across from David Eddy Gifts in the building now occupied by Jewell Tone Music. At some point, they added a bridal boutique to the business, he said.

Hall helped facilitate love of bluebirds as well. Culpeper area members of the Virginia Bluebird Society maintain 12 bluebird houses at Mountain Run Lake Park, said Patterson. In 2020, the group counted 65 baby bluebirds fledging along with 50 tree swallows, he said.

“We usually walk the trail in pairs, once each week during the nesting season. After a brood fledges, we throw out the old nest to make the house ready to welcome new parents,” said Patterson.

Sometimes the pairs are able to spot a problem, including one of the most dramatic times from a few years ago, he said. Patterson and his wife Cecile found all the chicks in the house on the Mountain Run Lake dam had already fledged except for one chick.

“Investigating further, we discovered that the one remaining chick was hopelessly tied to the nest by a stray piece of fishing line. He was trapped,” he said.

Passing teenagers provided a Swiss army knife for freeing the baby bluebird.

“We cut the line and the chick immediately fluttered off our hand,” Patterson recalled. “As it rose into the sky, one parent veered in alongside from the left, another joined from the right, and all three flew to the trees. That’s why we monitor the bluebird boxes.”

For information in assisting with bluebirds, see virginiabluebirds.org

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