For more than a decade, ECAS members have been monitoring 28 Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) and Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) nest boxes on two “bluebird trails” near Sisters. In the ensuing years, other locations have been added, and include 25-30 new boxes. Young birds are banded and returned to their nest boxes. Around 100 birds are banded each year.
This project provides a great opportunity for conservation and bird education. Volunteers frequently take interested adults and children along when they monitor the boxes and when they band the young birds.
Why We Do This and What We Have Learned
Bluebirds are not only jewels of the landscape but play an important role in our ecosystem. In recent times, there are far fewer snags in the forest, the traditional location of bluebird nest cavities. Therefore, nest boxes play an important survival role for both the Mountain Bluebird and the Western Bluebird.
Banding data is submitted each year to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory. Data is also submitted to Cornell University and Oregon 2020. Though around 100 bluebirds are banded annually, as is the case with most banding projects, returned bands are infrequent but do give an idea of distribution and longevity.
What Volunteers Do
In early April, volunteers clean out nest boxes to ready them for nesting. During the nesting season, late April through the end of July, the boxes are monitored weekly, and appropriately aged young are banded.
Volunteers record the number of boxes used and unused, the number of eggs laid, the number hatched, and the number of fledglings. Any second nesting attempts are noted as well as observations of predation, unusual weather, and food abundance.
Project Focus Areas
- Population Monitoring
- Bird Conservation
Would You Like to Volunteer?
The project leader and volunteers will continue to monitor the nest box trail near Sisters; however, additional monitors will be needed starting in spring 2023. All training will be provided.
The ECAS Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival will again offer a half-day trip to observe bluebird (and kestrel) banding.
As of June 2022, a bluebird trail near La Pine has not been monitored for several years. A volunteer is needed to monitor that trail. Training will be provided by project leaders.
For more details and to volunteer for the bluebird nest box trail near Sisters or the La Pine bluebird trail, email your contact information to ECAS at email@example.com. Please put “Bluebird Nest Box Project” in the subject line.
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