Maybe you’ve seen a flash of blue emerging from a wooden bird box as you’ve driven along a country road. You were lucky to spot a Western Bluebird. These beautiful birds are members of the thrush family, the same family as American Robins. These birds build their nests in natural open cavities. In the absence of these cavities, they will use man-made nest boxes. Once a bluebird pair has chosen a box they will build a nest. Shortly after building their nests they will lay between 4-6 eggs and, 5-6 weeks later, they will coax their fledglings out into the world. Often after a few weeks, and sometimes aided by their fledglings, they will make a second nesting attempt and may produce a second brood.
The Western Bluebird could use your help. Bluebird population has been declining over the last several decades. Major reasons for this decline are loss of habitat, competition from non-native house sparrows and starlings, and reduction of insects due to the use of pesticides.
The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project (PBRP) was formed to aid in the recovery of the Western Bluebird. PBRP is a non-profit organization that relies on volunteers to monitor the bluebird boxes. We monitor nest box routes in the countryside around the suburbs south of Portland, such as Sherwood, Newberg, Dundee, Scholls, Laurel, Farmington, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Beavercreek, and Canby. Monitoring consists of weekly visits to each box on a monitor’s route from early April until late August. During the visit the monitor observes the box, watching for bluebirds or other bird species. Monitors learn when it is appropriate to open the boxes to check on nesting activity and eventually count eggs and hatchlings. These observations and counts are recorded and compiled at the end of the season. Monitors work with team leaders who conduct field training and answer questions.
Last year, over 1,300 bluebirds fledged from PBRP boxes. While this number was down from previous years, volunteers reported bluebirds that made new nesting attempts and had success with second clutches.
Every year, some of the volunteers retire or relocate leaving some routes without monitors. Without sufficient monitors, some boxes will be left unattended. PBRP is looking to recruit some new volunteers to monitor those existing routes. This year they will be holding an informational meeting for potential volunteers at Champoeg State Park on March 4 from 10 AM – noon. This will be the first time since 2020 that they have been able to hold this event in person and are excited to meet potential volunteers and share more information about their beloved feathered friends.
For more information and to register for this event, please visit prescottbluebird.com.