2018-03-14 / Front Page

Eastern bluebird

Mary Satterthwaite and Henry the Superdog repairing a nest box in the DePauw Nature Park. (Courtesy Photo) Mary Satterthwaite and Henry the Superdog repairing a nest box in the DePauw Nature Park. (Courtesy Photo) Spring is arriving, despite some chilly snow flurries this week! Birds are singing, frogs are chirping, and salamanders are emerging from underground burrows.

Our featured animal this week is the eastern bluebird.

Eastern bluebirds and several other songbirds nest in nest boxes. We have about two dozen nest boxes set up in the Nature Park.

This time of year we are busy cleaning, maintaining, and fixing the nest boxes. We are like the landlords of the Nature Park, cleaning out the apartments and getting ready for the next inhabitants. The bluebirds perch in the trees, watching us, singing, and creating flashes of blue as they fly from tree to tree.

The bluebirds begin nesting during the first week of April. The female lays three to four powder-blue eggs. The parents incubate the eggs for two weeks. After hatching, the chicks stay in the nest for about three weeks.

We check the nest boxes once a week during the nesting season. Contrary to popular belief, the birds do not abandon their nests when we check the boxes. Instead, it is important to continuously monitor the boxes to collect data and make sure there aren’t any problems, such as wasps living in the box.

After the chicks leave the nest, we clean the box out again so that it’s ready to be used by the next pair of birds. A pair of bluebirds often nests twice in one year, and will re-use the same nest box if it is properly cleaned out.

If you would like to create habitat in your yard for bluebirds, feel free to stop in and visit. We will show you our nest boxes and give you tips on how to set them up.

The DePauw Nature Park is open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can contact the main office at 765-658-1076 for more information.

(by Vanessa Fox, Nature Park Ecologist and Part-time professor of University Studies at DePauw)

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