Before you come to any conclusions, I’m not talking about “Oompa Loompas” or “Smurfs,” I’m talking about our native Eastern bluebirds. Due to habitat decline and the introduction of non-native species, such as house swallows and European starlings, our bluebird population has suffered a major decline.
Bluebirds are cavity nesters but cannot make their own cavities as the woodpeckers can. So, as people clear away old trees that have potential nesting sites, the bluebirds are losing their homes. And with the introduction of more aggressive species who are taking the cavities that are still available, the bluebirds are in need of some serious intervention. That’s where we can help.
The addition of bluebird boxes is an easy way to help our native birds and in return they will add beneficial insect control and a splash of beautiful blue color to your garden. This is an easy process and by following some simple guidelines, you are almost guaranteed success.
Start with non-pressure treated ¾ inch rough cut lumber; cedar or cypress is best for longevity. Make a floor between 4 and 5 inches square. Have a 1-1/2 inch entry hole to keep out invasive birds. Make one side accessible for monitoring and cleaning. Add a roof that should overhang the entrance and backside by 5 inches. This roof provides predator deterrence and protection from rain. There you have your box! Paint, stain, or just leave the exterior plain, but make sure you leave the interior natural. Never add a perch; and, mount the box on a pole at a minimum of 4 feet high in an open area. Wait for occupants.
This is an easy project and you’ll get so much in return. If it sounds a bit confusing, you need more information, or if you would like a helping hand with construction of your own box, then please join us on January 29 for our Bluebird Workshop. You will learn a wealth of birding information and build your very own bluebird box to take home. Hope to see you there.
Mrs. Alice Callaway, the last resident of Hills & Dales Estate, was a passionate bluebird lover. During her 62 years at the estate Mrs. Callaway added a number of houses for her feathered friends and kept them well maintained. Several of these bird houses remain today at the estate. She also kept notes in her journal that documented when they arrived, which houses were occupied, number of eggs per nest and when they departed. Thanks to bird enthusiasts like Mrs. Callaway and groups like The North American Bluebird Society, the bluebirds are getting a fighting chance and making a comeback. More information on bluebirds can be found at nabluebirdsociety.org.