Master Naturalists monitor bluebird boxes at Brownsville

September 6, 2023

By: Bob Eidam
(NASSAWADOX, VIRGINIA) – Bob Toner approaches the bluebird box, not knowing if it is empty, contains bluebird chicks, or holds a predator. After gently knocking on the side of the box, he carefully opens it to reveal a nest with 5 small bluebird eggs. He calls this out to Peter Fisher who updates a logbook with the finding. It is early morning on the Bluebird Nesting Box Trail located at The Nature Conservancy Virginia Coast Reserve Brownsville in Nassawadox.

The team of three volunteers rise with the sun one day per week during the nesting season (March through August) to examine each of the boxes located along the trail. Bob is the most experienced participant, having answered TNC’s call for volunteers six years ago. Over this time Bob has checked these 16 boxes over 1,500 times. Bob, Peter and Maggie Long are trained Virginia Master Naturalists who volunteer their time and expertise to a number of beneficial projects.

Their work is part of a larger effort to protect and support our vibrant avian community. Local conservationists and bird enthusiasts are monitoring bluebird boxes on the Eastern Shore. These small nesting boxes play a crucial role in providing safe havens for the beloved bluebirds, helping to stabilize their populations while offering a thrilling glimpse into the fascinating world of these feathered creatures.

Bluebirds, renowned for their blue plumage, melodious songs, and gentle nature, have faced several challenges over the years. Habitat loss, competition for nesting sites, and environmental changes have all contributed to their decline. The process of monitoring bluebird boxes emerged as a vital aspect of the overall conservation strategy. Regular check-ups on the boxes ensure their proper maintenance, detect any signs of issues, and offer valuable insights into the health of the bluebird population.

Maggie Long, a seasoned birdwatcher, emphasizes the significance of monitoring
bluebird boxes: “These boxes provide a much-needed boost to the bluebird population, but we need to be proactive in safeguarding their nests. Monitoring allows us to track the number of successful hatchings, identify potential threats, and understand the overall breeding success.”

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