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WildWatchcams
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600 N Capitol Way
Olympia, WA 98501-1091

 

Photo of bluebird flying out of next box.
Live Cam - Tree Swallows
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10 Second Refresh Live Image Update & pre-recorded video clips
Want to Learn More?
Project Bluebird
The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Western Bluebird
North American Bluebird Society, Inc.
Great Washington Birding Trail
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Tree Swallow
Example of Paired Bluebird and Tree Swallow Boxes (YouTube video)
BLUEBIRDS

Project Bluebird

Purpose of the project
Our goal is to work with students and volunteers to create a bluebird “trail” (series of boxes) in the South Sound area, so as to better ensure the survival of the western bluebird and at the same time educate people about bird conservation and habitat protection, while reaching out to landowners with prairie habitat.

Partners in the project

  • The Nature Conservancy and Black Hills Audubon Chapter are working together to build the boxes with schools, locate sites to place the boxes, and monitor the box usage.
  • Pacific Education Institute provided the funds for a guest educator in each classroom.
  • Wolf Haven International is cooperating on environmental education and placing boxes on their prairie property.
  • Tumwater School District has several classes participating in the project. Elementary classes have built boxes and cleaned them out in the fall. High school classes have participated in monitoring box usage.

Bluebirds in South Puget Sound
Bluebirds are dependent on the open grasslands and oak savannas found in the South Puget Sound. Western Bluebirds have suffered from competition for nest sites because of the introduced European Starlings and House Sparrows. Western Bluebirds feed primarily from perches, dropping to the ground to feed on grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, bugs, and spiders. Insects make up about 80 percent of their diet; the rest is fruit, which is consumed from late summer to early spring. As their habitat has dwindled, so too have their numbers. Though not listed as an endangered species, the western bluebird is an uncommon bird in Puget Sound, due to habitat loss and nesting competition by non-native birds.

The role of bluebird boxes
The proliferation of bluebird boxes is solely responsible for the comeback that bluebirds have made in Washington and across the United States. Without the construction and maintenance of boxes, the bluebird population would be significantly smaller.

A word about the prairies
Native prairies of the South Puget Sound are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States. Native prairie habitats have been nearly extirpated from the region, causing the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) (remove one space between Resources and the parenthesis) to identify South Puget Sound prairies as the most endangered ecosystem in the state. It is estimated that less than 10% of the original 150,000 acres of pre-European settlement prairie remains, and only about 3% is dominated by native prairie species. Factors contributing to the loss and degradation of these ecosystems include fire suppression and associated conifer tree invasion, urban and agricultural conversion, invasion and profusion of non-native species that have suppressed or eliminated native populations, and continued disturbance and degradation from human use. Aided by scores of volunteers, the Conservancy and its partners have removed invasive plant species, restored native grasses and planted oak seedlings on thousands of acres. The Conservancy and its partners also advocate for funding, so as to put additional lands into protection, and work with private landowners on habitat protection.

For further information

  • Erica Baker, teacher and district Environmental Education Team co-leader, Tumwater School District, 360-709-7216, ebaker@tumwater.k12.wa.us
  • Eric Delvin, Thurston County Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy, 360-280-2460 edelvin@tnc.org
  • Heath Packard, Field Director, Audubon Washington, 360-790-5680, ikilltvs@yahoo.com



Related Links
The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Western Bluebird
North American Bluebird Society, Inc.

To explore places to find birds in Washington - Great Washington Birding Trail

 



Related Links
The Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Western Bluebird
North American Bluebird Society, Inc.

To explore places to find birds in Washington - Great Washington Birding Trail