• Krista Lambrecht

All About Our Birds

The true Bluebird Experience isn’t only about Bluebirds. Our conservation efforts focus on four native songbirds; Eastern Bluebirds, Black-Capped Chickadees, Tree Swallows, and House Wrens. All four of these songbirds may live along your Bluebird Trail. So how do you know who’s who in your zoo?

Nestbox Styles

Our cavity nesting songbirds like many styles of nestboxes. Here at Bluebird Experience we have two favorites; handmade Bennett Bluebird Boxes and nestboxes from Wild Birds Unlimited in Frankfort, Kentucky. Both are great options and will attract songbirds year after year.


Bennett Bluebird Boxes- Handmade for us from 2007-2019 by Bluebird Enthusiast, Larry Bennett and multiple Boy Scouts. Larry prefers to use raw cut cedar wood to ensure the songbirds can easily climb up and down the nestbox. The boxes open from the side while monitoring and are customizable with a wood burner – we like to engrave numbers onto the outside of ours! The Bennett Box Blueprint is available to print to start making your own nestboxes!


Wild Birds Unlimited- These are the Cadillac version of a nestbox! For monitoring, it can open from the top or side. These options are especially helpful when there’s a lot of baby birds squeezed inside one box. Wild Birds Unlimited Bluebird nestboxes are made from recycled milk jugs, the EcoTough line looks like wood but is tough like plastic and sustainable making it virtually weather proof. The pole is also available at Wild Birds Unlimited, along with anything and everything needed to sustain a 5 star bed and breakfast for the songbirds. Contact Kristin Nelson at www.frankfort.wbu.com for curbside pick-up.


Habitat

Each songbird has a specific type of habitat they like. When placing nestboxes it’s all about location, location, location. By placing strategically it can attract a different kind of bird!


In our experience with trail creation, we have simplified how to best attract each individual songbird.


Eastern Bluebirds – wide open fields, grassy hills, and along golf fairways.

Tree Swallows – along any type of water

Black-Capped Chickadees – these songbirds are a little less particular, but often found along a staggered tree line

House Wren – prefer a more wooded area


Identifying Nests

Once the nestbox is placed and occupied, it’s time to monitor! it’s important to know which type of songbird is living in each nestbox. So how can you tell?

Eastern Bluebirds

The female neatly builds the nest out of grasses and pine needles.


Nesting Facts

Clutch Size: 2-7 eggs

Number of Broods: 1-3 broods

Egg Length: 0.7-0.9 in (1.8-2.4 cm)

Egg Width: 0.6-0.8 in (1.5-1.9 cm)

Incubation Period: 11-19 days

Nestling Period: 17-21 days

Egg Description: Pale blue or, rarely, white.

Condition at Hatching: Naked except for sparse tufts of dingy gray down, eyes closed, clumsy.



Tree Swallows

The female makes the nest out of grasses and feathers. They are usually tidy and well rounded.

Nestling Facts

Clutch Size: 4-7 eggs

Number of Broods: 1-2 broods

Egg Length: 0.7-0.8 in (1.7-2 cm)

Egg Width: 0.5-0.6 in (1.3-1.4 cm)

Incubation Period: 11-20 days

Nestling Period: 15-25 days

Egg Description: Pale pink, turning to pure white within 4 days. Condition at Hatching: Helpless, with closed eyes and pink skin sparsely covered with down.


Black-Capped Chickadees

Using mostly moss and other coarse materials their nests are often deeper than other songbirds.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size: 1-13 eggs

Number of Broods: 1 brood

Egg Length: 0.6 in (1.5 cm)

Egg Width: 0.5 in (1.2 cm)

Incubation Period: 12-13 days

Nestling Period: 12-16 days Egg Description: White with fine reddish-brown dots or spots Condition at Hatching: Eyes closed, naked except for 6 small patches of mouse-gray downy feathers on the back and head.


House Wren

Nests are usually made from twigs that are very tall. Sometimes they can fill up a whole nest box!

Nestling Facts

Clutch Size: 3-10 eggs

Number of Broods: 1-2 broods

Egg Length: 0.6-0.8 in (1.4-1.9 cm) Egg Width: 0.4-0.6 in (1.1-1.4 cm)

Incubation Period: 9-16 days

Nestling Period: 15-17 days Egg Description: White, pink-white, or grayish, speckled or blotched with reddish brown spots Condition at Hatching: Naked, pink, and basically immobile, eyes closed, with a couple of dozen wispy down feathers scattered over back and head.


Common Enemy

All of these songbirds share many common predators and threats to extinction, but the most aggressive and mutual danger is the English House Sparrow. If you're curious what a house sparrow looks like, go to any Burger King drive through and the house sparrows will be waiting for your trash. Or just keep reading.


These birds are an invasive species and should be disposed of with whatever means necessary if occupying one of your nestboxes.


Due to habitat loss and invasive species we have seen the reduced numbers of our native songbirds. You can make a positive impact by creating a habitat

and by becoming a Bluebird Landlord. It is our hope you become inspired by this great hands-on learning project where you witness the full life cycle of a songbird and make you want to sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!



Resources

The North American Bluebird Society (NABS) NABS Factsheet - Nestbox Recommendations


Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds


Wild Birds Unlimited in Frankfort, Kentucky



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Eau Claire, WI

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