Bluebird are beautiful birds, but they are not good at defending their nests. Frequently other bird species take over their nests and often destroy their eggs. In addition, bluebirds do not protect their nests well against insects.
Seventeen bluebird houses have been erected in Richfield Heritage Preserve and six teams of volunteers monitor the boxes several times a week. The houses also attract house wrens, chickadees and tree swallows. If the nests belong to a species other than bluebirds, and if there are no eggs in the nest, the volunteers remove the nesting materials. Once there are eggs of any species in a nest, they leave them alone.
Volunteers also check for insects and water in the boxes.
The volunteers identify and count the bluebird eggs, the nesting attempts, the adult bluebirds and the number of fledglings.
The monitors have been successful in improving the survival rate of the bluebird eggs to 90%. Before the monitors started working in the park, the survival rate was estimated at 60%.
The park district partners with NestWatch and reports data to them. NestWatch is associated with Cornell Lab of Ornithology. ∞
Photo above: Dean Masciarelli has helped monitor bluebird boxes this year, working with his father, Sal. Photo by S. Masciarelli.