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Are Your Bluebird Boxes Prepared for the New Nesting Season?

Written by Cathy Gibbs

Is your bluebird box ready for the 2023 season? This much-loved harbinger of Spring is ready to begin nesting. We, the Lake Monticello Bluebird Patrol (Jack Day, Jorja Stark, and Cathy Gibbs), have made our first round of the Golf Course to inspect and prepare boxes for the new families. We will be monitoring 25 boxes in all, 23 on the golf course and one each at Bunker Park and Ashlawn Clubhouse.

If you haven’t already removed old nests from last season, it should be done now. Dispose of old nests in the trash or away from the nesting site so predators are not attracted to the area. To discourage ants and wasps you can rub down the inside of the box with soap, or as we did this year, “paint” the inside with a slurry of soap and water. During the breeding season, the nests are removed after the young have left, and the boxes are readied for the next brood. As of March 7, we have the beginnings of nests in two of the 23 boxes on the golf course.

As in past years, we will inspect each box weekly and record data such as nests completed, numbers of eggs, chicks hatched, and fledglings, and note the dates of each of these events. The bluebirds can have two, or even three broods in a season with usually 4-5 chicks in each brood. The data is compiled at the end of the season and sent to the Virginia Bluebird Society. This information is used to document the success of the Bluebird Trails throughout Virginia. Last year, the Lake Monticello Golf Course Bluebird Trail fledged a total of 108 bluebirds. There were fewer eggs laid in the latter part of the season, possibly because of the extreme heat. In addition to bluebirds, the boxes also attract other cavity nesters such as tree swallows, chickadees, titmice, and wrens. We had a total of 32 tree swallows who fledged last season, and four wrens. We have one box that is inhabited by a flying squirrel family. We all need a home!

The Bluebird Patrol considers it a privilege to take out a golf cart each week and tour the beautiful course. We extend a thank you to Mark Marshall and the golf and maintenance staff for their help and cooperation in our monitoring of the boxes on the golf course. And to all the golfers for allowing us to “scoot on past” as we make our rounds, a BIG THANK YOU! Keep asking those questions and reporting on your own bluebird experiences. We always enjoy hearing about what your bluebirds are doing, too!

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