First Nesting Season on The Highlands Bluebird Trail is a Success!

First Nesting Season on The Highlands Bluebird Trail is a Success!

Baby bluebirds. Image: Peggy Falk

Peggy Falk is a Land Conservancy of West Michigan volunteer and a member of the Michigan Bluebird Society. She spearheaded a project to install bluebird boxes at The Highlands last fall and monitored them throughout the year.

By Peggy Falk

Have you noticed several new bird houses at The Highlands? This is a project I manage jointly with Blandford Nature Center. The Highlands Bluebird Trail consists of twelve boxes, handcrafted and donated by Paul White. It was installed with the hope of attracting Eastern Bluebirds and other native cavity nesting birds to this property. Below is a brief description of the 2020 season’s nesting birds.

In our twelve boxes, we had seven nest attempts. Two were Tree Swallow pairs, and five were Eastern Bluebird pairs.

There was a total of six swallow eggs shown in my written records. There could have been possibly six more. I could not see into one of the nests well, so noted “unknown” for the number of eggs in it. Since this nest was very well defended by a handful of swallows, I figured it was not really imperative that I snoop around it. I just let them do their thing and assumed success for that nest. The missing information hurt our success rate in my report to NestWatch, a nationwide nest-monitoring program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Nevertheless, I think that nest was successful.

I recorded a total of 22 Eastern Bluebird eggs. From these there were thirteen nestlings, and I estimate the same number of fledglings, since no dead baby birds were found, and none went missing. I think these boxes are fairly good to protect the young birds from avian predation, and no ground-dwelling animals seemed to get into them either. I know we lost two eggs, possibly due to House Sparrows. One nest of four Bluebird eggs was abandoned at the end of the season, reason unknown.

Our nesting success rate for swallows is 50% (owing to that “unknown” information due to limited visibility in the nest box). For bluebirds, we have a success rate of 80%.

I’m pleased with our attempts so far to provide nesting opportunities for native birds!

I enjoyed my efforts this summer in managing and monitoring The Highlands Bluebird Trail.

Thank you for help provided by Chris Baer and the Second Saturday volunteer crew for Land Conservancy of West Michigan to get the Bluebird Trail ready for 2020 nesting season!

Land Conservancy
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