Did you know that Paul McCartney has written 4 songs with a bird in the title? While ‘Bluebird’ isn’t the best of the songs (I think ‘Blackbird’ deserves that honor), I do think the bluebird is one of the most beautiful of birds. And, while it’s not even quite winter just yet, the bluebird is already making plans for spring.
We lived in Huntersville for several years, and I built and installed four bluebird boxes in the yard. However, not once did a bluebird use one of the boxes. Wrens, sparrows and many other birds raised families but never a bluebird.
When we moved to Davidson in 2005, I put out a bluebird box, and immediately bluebirds took to it. In the past few years we’ve enjoyed watching several families make it their home, typically raising a spring brood and then another in late summer (I’ve read where one of the babies from the first brood stays behind to help raise the next, but I have no way of verifying if this took place in our box). I’ve observed that the Dad tends to take the lead role in bringing food to the box. We’ll typically open the box once to let the kids see the babies inside. This does not seem to bother the parents, as they continue to care for their young until one day they all fly away.
Bluebirds were once quite few in numbers as their habitat was slowly destroyed, but thanks to the efforts of many individuals and organizations their numbers have greatly increased, and it is not uncommon to see several bluebirds flying together around Davidson. Making a bluebird box is relatively simple, and a great activity to do with the family. You can also buy boxes at home improvement and birding stores. Another excellent source for bluebird boxes is the Eastern Bluebird Rescue Group. You can order boxes on their website, or you can eliminate shipping charges by buying them through your local North Carolina State Employees credit union. To date this rescue group has built and sold over 100,000 bluebird houses!
If you want to have a good chance of nesting bluebirds this spring, now is the time to put out a box. Just yesterday I observed several bluebirds flying in and out of our bluebird box. Maybe they were just showing friends the old homestead, but more likely they were scouting locations for a spring nesting site. In North Carolina bluebird eggs have been observed in early March, which is technically still winter.
The recovery of the North American bluebird is an environmental success story. If you want to be part of it, put out a bluebird box. You’ll be glad you did.