Bluebird
trails

- Bluebird intro

- Species profile

- Bluebird boxes

- Bluebird trails

- Bluebird care

- Resources

  


 

SETTING UP A BLUEBIRD TRAIL:
Establishing your own bluebird trail can be fun and rewarding, but requires a real commitment of time and effort.

A typical trail usually consists of five or more bluebird boxes. The boxes need to be cleaned, repaired and opened in the spring, checked every week during nesting and then closed down after nesting is complete. Trails should probably not be started if time is not available to check and maintain the boxes during the nesting season.

Keeping records of the activity on your bluebird trail can be fun and can provide valuable information. The North American Bluebird Society (NABS) compiles data on bluebird populations in North America and Annual Nesting

Report Forms are available from NABS.

LOCATION:
Habitat is the most important factor to consider in establishing your trail. Rural locations with scattered trees and low or grassy ground cover are preferred. The best habitat will include nearby fence lines, telephone wires, or tree branches where bluebirds may perch to search for food. Pastures, golf courses, cemeteries, and parks are good locations.

Stay away from areas with high pesticide usage. Avoid locating houses too close to homes and other areas that house sparrows frequent. Also avoid brushy areas that can attract other nesting species and predators.

NEST BOXES:
Proper monitoring and spacing of the nest boxes will increase the chance for a successful bluebird trail.

Nesting boxes should be mounted so the entrance hole is five to six feet above the ground.

Face the box away from prevailing winds.

Boxes should ideally face toward a tree or shrub which is within 100 feet of the box. This provides easy access for young birds leaving the nest.

Eastern Bluebird - Boxes should be spaced at least 100 to 150 yards apart. Some experts recommend placing boxes in pairs about 25 feet apart, with the pairs then 100-150 yards apart.

Western and Mountain Bluebirds - Boxes should be spaced about 300 yards apart.

Bluebird boxes should typically be in place by mid-March (early March in southern states where bluebirds are year round residents), but may also be put up later in the nesting season.

MONITORING A BLUEBIRD TRAIL
Checking your bluebird boxes during nesting season is one of the most interesting and important parts of managing your trail. It is not wise to start a bluebird trail if you do not plan to monitor it. Check the bluebird boxes at least once a week during the nesting season but do not open the box after nestlings are 12 to 14 days old. (The fledglings might leave the box before they can fly.)

Here are a few other bits of useful information when checking your trail:

  • Bluebirds usually nest in late March or early April. In the southern US bluebirds are resident throughout the year and may nest earlier.
  • Bluebirds usually have two broods per season, with three broods are a possibility.
  • Bluebirds typically lay 4 to 5 light blue eggs, but as many as 7 is possible. Some eggs may be white.
  • The incubation period is 12 to 14 days.
  • Young birds remain in the nest 18 to 21 days before they fledge.
  • Remove bluebird nests, clean out the nest box and close it after you are sure nesting is complete for the season. Remember that two or even three broods may be raised. Wait several weeks after the first brood has left the nest to insure that it will not be used again that year.
  • A bluebird nest is a cup-shaped and is usually made up of 100% woven grass.
  • A house sparrow nest is a thick collection of grass, weeds and junk and can fill the entire bluebird house.
  • Remove signs of a house sparrow nest immediately.

It may take several seasons for bluebirds to locate and select your nest boxes but your patience will be well rewarded when you find your first resident. Their sweet calls and shimmering beauty are well worth the effort.


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