Blue Bird BoxesThere are 3 species of bluebirds in North America: Eastern,Mountain and Western Bluebirds. Western Bluebirds live in the western and southern US. Bluebirds live in conifer forests and along agricultural grassy areas.
The diet of the Western Bluebird is primarily insects and they depend on wild berries including winter juniper, toyon, mistletoeand even poison oak berries.
The Western Bluebird is 5.5” in length. The malehas a brilliant blue head, back and outer wing feathers and the femalehas the same yet duller feathers and a white eye ring. They live on the edges of wooded areas. The female lays 4 to 6 eggs. In one year the female may lay eggs twice.
Bluebirds benefit humans by eating insects, thus they are a beneficial predator.
The Western Bluebird uses natural tree cavities for nesting. In the US the population has been declining due to the lack of tree cavities. Where a lack of natural tree cavities exists, bluebird nest boxes have been successful.
How can you help?
Do not use herbicides or pesticides and encourage yourneighbors not to use these toxic items.
Install a bluebird nest box in a location 200 feet awayfrom woods or brush areas to protect them from House Sparrows, European Starlings, or Raccoons. Keep cats indoors. The box should face away fromthe wind and toward bushes or a wooded area. If you are installing more than one nest box, they should be spaced 100-300 feet apart.
The Hungry Owl Project offers bluebird boxes for salein Marin County. Nest boxes alone are $20. For a nest box, pole and instructions the cost is $40. We offer a sliding scale fee structure for school projects.Bluebird boxes and monitoring is a great science/environmental project for students. A number of Marin schools have already set up bluebird trails,including: Nicasio School, San Geronimo School, Dixie School, and Novato Charter.
Monitoring & Maintenance
Check the box once a week during the nesting season. A nest will be cup shaped and consist of woven grass and may contain pine needles. Eggs are light blue, some may be white. Nests from other birds should be removed.
Western Bluebirds will reuse the same nest material butit is recommended that you clean it out after chicks fledge (fly away). This requires removing the nesting material and clearing the drainage holes.
If parasites appear, they should be removed. Parasites also tend to show up if the nest box is in a moist location.
Mealworms are Darkling beetles in larvae stage. Some people use mealworms to entice bluebirds to a nest box or during severe weather while there are chicks in the nest box. For best results, place these on a hopper style feeder if there are already bluebirds in the area.
Contact Mari Litsky for more information at email@example.com