‘Prescott Bluebird Recovery’ Seeks Volunteer Trail Monitors

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Female approaches the nest - no perch needed! Photo: Rick Sorensen.

Western Bluebirds are in the Thrush family (as are American Robins). Instead of open nests, they build nests in natural cavities or those excavated by other cavity-nesting species with more robust bills. They also use artificial nest boxes, building well-constructed nests and laying 4-6 blue eggs. 5-6 weeks later, they coax the fledglings into the wild world. Another week or two are spent orienting and training the novice bluebirds. Often, the pair will nest again and produce more fledglings. For more information about these appealing birds, visit our web site at prescottbluebird.com.

First year bluebirds in Dundee. Photo: Stephen Page.

Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project is an all-volunteer, non-profit Citizen Science organization. Our volunteers help to select appropriate habitat and place artificial nestboxes. We are active in Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and the very northern portion of Marion County.

Our nesting data, collected and recorded by volunteer nest box monitors, gives us an accurate record of how successfully each nest box location has produced nestlings. It also tells us how successful overall the bluebirds have been within our little corner of Oregon.

Western Bluebirds in our area have for two years had amazing reproductive success based on a six-year average of nesting attempts and number of young fledged. The average annual nesting attempts in 2014-2019 was 371. In 2018 the number of nesting attempts was 465 and in 2019 545. The average number of young fledged in 2014-2019 was 1241. In 2018, 1601 young fledged, and in 2019, 1922 fledged.

See how quickly they beg for food! Photo: Betty Ballentine.

Availability of adequate food resources, variability in weather (particularly storms in May and June), sustained high temperatures in June and July, and the reality that predators or competitors can take a toll on eggs and nestlings — all can have a negative effect on the fledgling numbers. The level of success varies each year. Two such successful consecutive years are unusual.

Each year, some of our dedicated volunteers retire from fieldwork or relocate to a new address too distant from the nest box trail to maintain weekly visits during nesting season. We seek new volunteers each spring. In the absence of sufficient volunteers, we are forced to leave a nest box route unmanned temporarily. Placement of volunteers on vacant routes is done with an eye to the distance each volunteer would need to travel to reach their route and spend the 2-3 hours there observing and recording nesting activity.

For More information, visit prescottbluebird.com.