Where Have All the Bluebirds Gone?
In many areas, the number of Bluebirds has decreased alarmingly. Two main causes have brought about the decline of the Bluebird's population. The first is loss of their habitats. The second cause is increased competition for nesting sites. These beautiful birds will need help for their population to recover.
The native Bluebird is a timid, cavity-nesting bird. It searches for hollows in decaying wooden fence posts or dead trees. Over the years, land has been cleared for urban development. In addition to the loss of trees, metal posts have replaced wooden fence posts. The result has been reduction of natural nesting cavities.
Adding to the problem of loss of their habitat has been the introduction of the House Sparrow and the European Starling to the United States in the 1800s. Both starlings and sparrows are also cavity nesters. These extremely aggressive birds compete with the passive bluebird for nesting sites. Sadly, starlings and sparrows often take over occupied bluebird nests by puncturing eggs, killing nestlings, and sometimes killing the parents.
Although the bluebird population has greatly decreased, there is hope for their future. The most important step in bluebird conservation is to provide nesting sites by setting out suitable bluebird houses. Starlings can be kept out of the houses by using the correct size entrance hole, which is one and one-half inches. Excellent sites for houses include rural or semi-rural property, golf courses, church or school yards, or any open area surrounded by woods. In areas where these houses have been correctly placed, Bluebird populations are beginning to recover.
In the past eighteen months, I have seen bluebirds nest in the birdhouse in my backyard twice. Both times, sparrows attacked the timid bluebirds and destroyed their eggs. This motivated me to research what I could do to help. Much information is available from the this website and the North American Bluebird Society.
The Bluebird, with its gentle song and manner, has come to symbolize hope and happiness for many. With our help and conservation efforts, the bluebird population can increase. With their increase, our world will be a more beautiful place and many generations will be able to enjoy the beautiful Bluebird.