Cavity Nesting Birds Trails

Bluebird House in WinterWhen a nest box trail is mentioned, most people think of bluebirds. However, there are several other native birds that nest in cavities including tree swallows, chickadees, and flycatchers.  Why do we help these birds with nest boxes?  In the past, these birds nested in holes created by nature or other creatures like woodpeckers.

However, introduced and aggressive house sparrows and starlings commonly evict or kill native birds using cavities for nests. Domestic cats have been allowed to roam and once open spaces have been turned into housing plans for humans.These factors make it much more difficult for native birds to survive and breed. They now rely heavily on nest boxes provided by humans for successful reproduction.

Monitoring the nest boxes helps the native birds thrive. It increases the likelihood that the nest boxes will be used by native birds, and that more young will survive to fledge. One expert found that bluebirds had about 65% success rate in natural cavities, and 90%+ in monitored nestboxes mounted on pipes with predator baffles. Bad things can happen in boxes that are not monitored. For example, wood can rot or separate, allowing chilling rain to wet nestlings. House sparrows may attack and destroy eggs, nestlings and incubating adults. House wrens may fill up boxes with dummy nests, making them unavailable.

Data gathered by state park monitors and citizen scientists during nest box monitoring is needed to increase our understating of the natural world, and to learn more about how to help native birds. Come join our team of monitors and learn more about the wonder of bluebirds!

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