Shortly after we moved to the country (ok, our little 2 acres at the far edge of the burbs), we decided to put up some feeders and a bluebird house. I didn’t really know a lot about bluebirds, but my stepfather had sparked a love of birdwatching when I was a little girl. We would hike in the woods and he could tell the speicies by the bird’s call. We’d stop and scan the trees, lift our binoculars and slowly study the trees till we spotted our bird. I still remember one time when we were floating in our inflatable rafts down the river. We were in still water, taking a break from paddling and leaning back, faces to the sun. A ruby throated hummingbird flitted up and landed just inches from my arm where it quietly sat and took sips from a tiny puddle of water. When I remember my stepfather my first thoughts go to the days spent floating, camping and birdwatching.
Our bluebird house was almost immediately occupied and I started to do some research. The native species in my state (Missouri) is the Eastern Bluebird. They have suffered greatly from loss of habitat but there numbers have been steadily increasing since nestboxes and their monitoring have been promoted.
For more information on nestbox monitoring: http://www.sialis.org/monitoring.htm. This site even has a page devoted to encouraging children to get in on the watching
Putting up a nestbox and monitoring its progress helps, but officially reporting the data does even more. At http://nestwatch.org/ you can register and log your data (GREAT science project!). We’ve even participated in their personality profile studies.
The one thing we’ve never caught in action is the actual fledging from the nest. One day they’re there, and the next we have an empty nest. Often we see the young family out hunting for bugs together, but once they leave the nest they do not return. Bluebirds are awesome parents. Both the mom and the dad care for the young and they continue to stay together as a family for quite some time after fledging.