Western bluebirds are showing up at the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Resource Center! It’s a sure sign of spring and a reassurance that habitat found on the property of the new District home is supporting our local wildlife community!
Why Are We Excited About Western Bluebirds?
The Western bluebird is an Oregon Conservation Strategy species in the Willamette Valley, as is our native Oregon white oak. This bluebird, one of three found in the United States, prefers grasslands and oak savannahs for foraging. They rely on cavities in oaks for nesting and scattered trees or shrubs as hunting perches.
Loss of white oak habitat has had a significant impact on this and other species. This is one of the many reasons the Clackamas SWCD has invested strongly is preserving, supporting, and re-establishing oak habitat here in Clackamas County. Read more about our oak program and what you can do to help!
Bluebird populations have been on the decline for several other reasons including urbanization, removal of dead trees (nesting habitat), use of pesticides, popularity of vinyl and metal fencing as opposed to wooden fencing, and competition with non-native European starlings and English sparrows. Both of these non-native birds are cavity nesters and are aggressive competitors for nesting sites and food. Heavy predation by house cats, raccoons, and rodents is a further stressor.
Bluebird Nesting Boxes Can Provide Relief!
In 2014, the District installed bluebird nest boxes on the fence posts along two sides of the 15-acre Conservation Resource Center property. The rural countryside setting with some scattered trees, like that found in many parts of Clackamas County, can be an ideal location to install nesting boxes. We’re happy to report our boxes are used each year!
The specifications for the size and shape of the box as well as the placement of the boxes is very specific to the needs of the Western bluebird. It is not recommended to install nesting boxes that do not meet the specific needs of the Western bluebird, or in a habitat not attractive to the Western bluebird. Build your own nesting box with these instructions or purchase boxes available locally that are specific for this native bird.
The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project located in the Willamette Valley is dedicated to the recovery, restoration, and enhancement of the Western bluebird.
For additional information about bluebird conservation and nesting boxes visit the bluebird facts page on the North American Bluebird Society website.