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Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

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Nest Cavities - Book Early

Swallows and bluebirds — like this Western Bluebird — are among the earliest northbound migrants to arrive, heralding spring a month before the equinox. Both species will nest only in cavities, such as old woodpecker holes or man-made nestboxes. But the supply of specialized nest sites is limited... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Why Are Bluebirds Blue?

Why are bluebirds blue? Unlike many other bird colors, blue is not a pigment but a color produced by the structure of the feathers. Tiny air pockets and melanin pigment crystals in each feather scatter blue light and absorb the other wavelengths. The even finer structure of the feather gathers... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Birds Return with the Light

Winter's weak light is finally beginning to strengthen, and some birds, long absent, have begun their journeys north. Tree Swallows, such as this one, phoebes, bluebirds, and more return with the light. So be of good cheer, the birds and Spring are coming back. You can learn more about this... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Rita Shultz - Friend to Bluebirds

Rita Shultz, a rural mail carrier outside of Richmond, Virginia, says, "Every person's yard is an important bird area!" When Rita discovered that Eastern Bluebirds were nesting in some of the newspaper delivery boxes on her route – and that many customers were throwing the nests out – she went... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Voices and Vocabularies - Eastern Bluebirds

A male Eastern Bluebird stands on a wooden nestbox attached to a fence post. The bluebird’s song – and his alert presence - assert his claim to this territory. In the mid-20th Century, the numbers of bluebirds in the Northeast declined to the lowest level ever, due largely to nesting... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

Restoring Prairies for Grassland Birds

Thanks to Tom Vanderpoel and Citizens For Conservation, grassland birds like this Eastern Meadowlark are benefiting from expanded habitat in northeast Illinois, where volunteers are restoring native prairies. In autumn, volunteers collect seeds from restored grasslands. In spring, they scatter... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Robert Otto Loves Bluebirds

For 30 years, Robert Otto (pictured here) has been putting up nest boxes for bluebirds near his home in northern Michigan. A retired mechanical engineer, Robert has designed and built nest boxes that are easy to maintain and make it simple to check for eggs and fledglings. There are now 101 nest... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, nesting

Clean Nestboxes in October

It’s a beautiful moment when your backyard birds — like these Black-capped Chickadees — depart their nestboxes. By October, it’s time for one last duty as nestbox landlord: to clean it out. Cleaning will reduce the incidence of parasites in the box and make it more inviting to next spring’s... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting