In October 2018, a small group of River Landing residents who maintained a small Bluebird trail on the residential community’s Colfax campus decided to start a bird club. Although all were bird enthusiasts, none could be called a bird expert.
Club members accompany guides along one of the four bluebird trails to help check bird boxes and update each data log. They follow the nesting activity of bluebirds.
They are not the only ones.
The North Carolina Bluebird Society also keeps tabs on the bird’s population.
There are three types of bluebirds: Eastern, Mountain, and Western. Over the past decade, eastern species, found in North Carolina, have increased dramatically thanks to the nest boxes these groups have placed and monitored, according to the National Audubon Society.
“In the late 1970s, after being threatened, it caused a decline in the population of bluebirds after human activities began killing the insects and making food scarce for the birds,” Donna said. Allred, who is the Guilford County representative for the NC Bluebird Society, which started in 1986.
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“Seeing species increase and survive is the main reason the club loves tracking birds,” she said.
In Guilford County, members and volunteers meet at Lake Daniel Park in Greensboro. Planning begins in February for the next nesting season. Bluebirds can nest up to three times, with the first cycle usually in April-May, another in June-July and a final cycle in August, according to the NC Bluebird Society.
People who want to help maintain a bag of nesting bird supplies. Small mirrors are used to observe the nests so that the birds are not disturbed. During nesting season, volunteers go out once a week and fill out sheets to document new eggs and birds. They count birds and keep a log of activity. There are currently 14 active Bluebird houses in the community.
Although the majority of eastern bluebirds are found in the eastern part of the United States, the total range extends south to Nicaragua.
The birds prefer to live in open country areas with scattered trees, farms and roadsides. They feed mainly on insects and berries. The nest cavity (built mostly by the female) is a loose cup of weeds, twigs, and dry grass, lined with finer grass, sometimes animal hair or feathers, according to the Audubon Society.
At River Landing, members of the bird club use golf carts to get around more easily to the 65 birdhouses they have placed on the nine-hole golf course. Organizer John Scroggins said the club had over 125 members.
He said they started the club because there was so much enthusiasm for one of the residents.
All data collected from the nest boxes is transmitted once a week to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which uses this information in its research and conservation efforts.
Although the eastern bluebird is the target, many other species periodically use the boxes. Volunteers saw Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Carolina Wren, Brown-capped Nuthatch, and White-breasted Nuthatch. Data on these species are also submitted to the laboratory.
To learn more about creating a bluebird’s nest, visit the NC Bluebird Society website at www.ncbluebird.org.
PHOTOS: Groups track bluebird nests in Guilford County