Bluebird Nestbox Project
The Delicious Burn , which occurred in 1990, is located in an area north and west of Tumalo Reservoir and extended a little over two thousand acres. Although it cleared a huge swath of National Forest land, it also provided some new excellent quality Western and Mountain Bluebird habitat. As the population of the U.S.A increased in the 20th century, bluebird numbers decreased alarmingly due to loss of habitat and competition from European Starlings and House Sparrows. People started to take notice and bluebird societies were formed.
ECAS member, Don McCartney, moved to Oregon in the mid 1990’s. While exploring forest service roads near his home, he saw bluebirds – lots of them. Responding to the birds’ needs for nesting cavities, he built nest boxes for all the cavity nesters he observed. He built boxes for chickadees and nuthatches, kestrels and the bluebirds. Don’s new nest boxes, placed throughout the Delicious Burn, attracted bluebirds that first season and continue to do so today.
Approximately 30 nest boxes are monitored weekly during the nesting season. This 14 year old bluebird trail is the only ongoing bluebird project in Central Oregon that is monitored weekly and for which records are kept and statistics reported to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology on an annual basis. Our goal was to move from only providing nest box cavities to protecting those cavities and recording results for science.
In August of 2010, the Rooster Rock fire selectively swept through parts of the same area burned in 1990. When the bluebirds returned the following spring, most of the nest boxes were still in place and plenty of insects available. This US Forest Service land remains highly productive for both Western and Mountain bluebirds.
Over the years, many maintenance projects have been performed to improve nest production, to minimize conflict with other species such as the House Wren, or to keep the boxes in good repair. Some of the nest boxes located on tree trunks or snags were being used by Lesser Chipmunks. In 2006 Don McCartney placed metal predator guards on some trees. In 2011 Don McCartney and Jim Anderson moved 12 of the nest boxes to free-standing wooden posts with smooth sheet metal baffles to deter chipmunks and other predators. Plans for the future will include more boxes being moved to posts with baffles.
Access to the project area is on decent gravel roads, and short walks from the car to each nest box make it a great hands-on field project for people of all ages. No experience is necessary and all training is provided.
Project coordinator: Ken Hashagen phone: 916-316-8596
2014 Nest box data...details
2013 Nest box data ... details
Delicious Bird Data ... details