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Workshop set for March 8 at Champoeg State Park

by: COURTESY OF NANCY FRASER - These bluebird hatchlings are ready for lunch. The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project is hosting a workshop on Saturday, March 8, at Champoeg State Heritage Park, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.It’s Tuesday, my regular day to drive to and monitor my bluebird trail. I review my records of observations I made last Tuesday. I am excited to discover whether in one of the nest boxes, more eggs have been laid. In another nest box, I am hoping the complete nest from last week now has beautiful, blue eggs. At a third, my calculations suggest that eggs could have hatched, and there will be tiny nestlings. Perhaps this week there will be nests in boxes that were empty.

These might be bluebird nests or perhaps those other native species such as Violet Green Swallows.

It’s all about discovery, and the joys of observing the natural world, while helping a species that is experiencing some difficulty in maintaining its numbers due to fewer suitable nesting sites and food resources for successful breeding.

Our project places and monitors artificial nest boxes in suitable habitat. While I visit the 16 nest boxes that I monitor, I observe and record what I see. Because there are many details, I trust not just my memory but make written recordings, identified by the location of each nest box. I know that if I find something surprising or for which I need questions answered or advice on how to proceed, I can contact my team leader (another volunteer within the project) to meet these needs. I report my written observations to the team leader each week.

The bluebird nesting season in our project area (Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, Multnomah, and a bit of Marion counties) begins in March and extends through early September. Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters. They use natural or excavated cavities already present in dead tree snags or wooden fence posts, or nest boxes. These must be in appropriate habitat and with adequate insect food resources to allow the bluebird pair to find the food to successfully raise their young to maturity.

The nesting cycle first consists of selection of a site and gathering and shaping a soft, cup-like nest, mostly of dried grasses. Often the bluebirds take their time with this, but a nest can be completed in a day or less. Both birds bring nesting material, and the female does the fine-tuning of creating a cup into which the eggs are laid (an average of 5), one each day.

The female incubates the eggs; beginning only after the last egg is laid. Two weeks later, the eggs hatch. The nestlings are tiny, unfeathered, and require the female to brood them to maintain their body temperature. The male brings food for both the female and nestlings during the first 5-7 days. Increasingly, the female leaves the nest to help obtain food for the rapidly growing young. Three weeks after hatching, the youngsters are the size of the adults, and are ready to leave the nest box. The adults continue to feed the fledgling birds while they teach them how to find their own food and how to survive in their environment.

If conditions are right, bluebirds may raise another clutch of young, and occasionally a third clutch in the same nesting season, with each requiring from 6-7 weeks of effort on the part of the adult pair. Often, the fledglings from the first clutch remain around the nest box area, and may help bring food for the newer nestlings.

Each season, our project requires volunteers to replace those who are unable to continue monitoring. We are holding an informational workshop and kickoff meeting for current volunteers, interested new volunteers, or those interested in learning about bluebirds, on Saturday, March 8, at Champoeg State Heritage Park, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Won’t you come join us and experience the satisfaction and joys of helping these appealing and attractive native birds continue to be a part of our natural world in the Northern Willamette Valley?

Write us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register for the workshop. Please include your name, street address, and telephone number. Or visit http://www.prescottbluebird.com/.

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