|All Bluebirds are cavity nesters. Once common in rural and suburban areas, Bluebird populations declined by as much as 90 per cent from 1920 – 1970. The decline was due to two things: loss of nesting habitat such as tree holes, rotted out fence posts and old orchards; and the introduction of the European starling and house sparrow in the last half of the 1800’s.|
These two European species competed heavily with the Bluebird for existing nesting cavities. Utilization of a sparrow trap and ensuring the right size entrance hole are often critical to Bluebird breeding success.
During the summer, Bluebirds feed mainly on insects. In the winter, Bluebirds depend on many kinds of wild berries for their food supply. However, the supply of wild berries has also decreased over the years. The few berries that remain are often stripped quickly by large flocks of starlings.
The most important step we can take to help bring back the Eastern Bluebird is to provide nesting sites by setting out a Bluebird box or starting a Bluebird trail.
A Bluebird trail is a series of Bluebird boxes placed along a prescribed route. In areas where nesting boxes have been put up in suitable habitat, Bluebird populations are increasing. Bluebirding is a great environmental, hands-on project that people of all ages can enjoy. By following the instructions below, chances are good that you will be able to attract and enjoy bluebirds.
A good bluebird box should be well ventilated, watertight, have drainage holes, be easy to monitor, and easy to clean.
Mounting the Bluebird Box
Smooth round pipe is probably the best and simplest mounting system to use -- 3/4" electrical conduit works well, but any smooth scrap round pipe will also work.
Habitat is the key factor to consider when setting up a bluebird trail. Open rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover is best. Suitable habitat should include perch sites, such as a fence line, wires, or tree branches where bluebirds may perch to search for food. Look for these when you are selecting a location for your nesting boxes. If bluebirds do not like the habitat, they probably will not use your boxes.
Boxes should be spaced out at approximately 125-150 yards.
Do not put up a bluebird box if you do not plan to monitor it. Check your bluebird boxes at least once a week during the nesting season, until chicks are close to fledging.
Please don't be discouraged if your nesting boxes are not used the first year. If bluebirds are not common in your area, it may take them a few seasons to find your new box. Bluebirds generally return to the same area each year. Bluebird trails have been an extremely effective method of reestablishing the bluebird populations across North America.
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