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Making a Comeback

Bluebird House
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What can we do?
What is a "Bluebird Trail?"
Eastern Bluebird
Bluebird Friendly Yard

The bluebird has long been a favorite bird in North America. It is loved for its beautiful blue coloring, as well as, its gentle disposition and its pleasing voice. The bluebird is the symbol of love and happiness in many of our songs.

Once a common bird, the bluebird was numerous even in urban residential areas, but it has seen a decline in numbers, with the Eastern Bluebird losing up to 90 percent of its population. A number of factors, such as insecticides, the destruction of their habitats, predators, and competition from other birds have contributed to this decline. The destruction of some of their food supply, such as the wild holly berries used in Christmas decorations, has also been a factor.

Those who love the bluebird have begun a massive effort to save it through the erection of thousands of nesting boxes appropriate for this species and predator- and competitor-proof. And the bluebird is beginning to reappear in areas where these nesting boxes are established.

There are three species of bluebird: Eastern, Western, and Mountain, and they belong to the thrush family. The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) breeds in every state east of the Rocky Mountains. It is bright blue with a rusty red breast similar to the robin's. The Western Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) breeds in the western states from Canada to Mexico and east to Colorado. It has a blue throat, and the red color extends to its upper back. The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) breeds in the Northwest, east to the Dakotas, and north into Alaska. It is entirely blue, with a white underbelly.Cape Cod Bluebird House - Joan Henderson, Stafford, PA

Bluebirds are primarily insectivores, eating many insects considered pests by man: cutworms, grasshoppers, and flying insects. They supplement this diet in fall and winter with wild berries and may starve if snow covers the ground and berries are unavailable.

The spring courtship rites of the bluebird are among the most enjoyable to witness. The male selects a suitable nesting cavity and devotes all his energy to luring a female to it with song. He sings and sings, as the female sits passively by, enjoying his effort. When she inspects the nesting place, he interprets her interest as acceptance and his song becomes even more passionate. But the final selection of the nesting place is hers, and if she finds his choice unacceptable, he must search for something better.

The female builds a nest of dry grass or pine needles and other plant material. The nest is typically about three to four inches deep. Here the Eastern Bluebird lays an average of three to five clear blue eggs (though occasionally they may be white), with the western and mountain species adding one or two more. They hatch in two weeks and the baby birds leave the nest in 15 to 20 days, ready to fly and soon able to feed themselves. By fall the pair has raised two or three broods of young and may migrate south if their food supply runs out or it gets too cold.

The bluebird's chief competitors among other birds are the house sparrow, or English Sparrow, and the starling, both of which like the same type of nesting space. Sparrows will break the bluebird's eggs in a nest, or move into the nest during the winter when the bluebird has migrated. They will even peck the baby or adult birds to death, with the bluebird often unable to defend itself. Starlings will drive bluebirds out of an entire area and occupy every available nesting cavity, unless man intervenes.

What can we do?

We can assist in the return of this lovely bird by providing suitable habitats, winter shelter, and food supplies. Plants that bear berries throughout the winter (bittersweet, hackberry, dogwood, American holly, privet, bayberry, sumac, and others) will provide food for not only bluebirds but many other species. Winter roost boxes provide shelter in the coldest season for many birds. In areas where bluebirds find sufficient food, they may stay all year, but a roost box will allow them warmth on cold nights. And specially designed bluebird houses, with predator guards on the entrance to keep out squirrels, raccoons, and competing birds, will give the bluebird a safe place to live and rear its young. Nests of sparrows and other competitors must be cleaned out of the bluebird house on a regular basis.

What is a "Bluebird Trail?"

People sometimes create a "bluebird trail" by hanging many bluebird houses in an area, about 100 yards apart, to give the bluebirds an abundance of housing. They are often placed on fence posts, giving the appearance of a "trail." Tree swallows often find bluebird houses to their liking as well, and this problem can be lessened by hanging two houses back to back, even on a post or close to each other. Two bluebirds will not nest near each other, so this gives the swallows one house and the bluebirds the other. The swallows will even help protect the bluebirds from other competing birds.

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Coveside Eastern Bluebird House Kit
This bird house has a 4"x4" floor, which is suitable for a variety of small birds: chickadees, titmice, wrens, warblers, nuthatches and tree swallows. Includes a predator guard that is essential to provide protection for bluebirds. Easy to assemble with instructions and bird information included.
(14"h x 6"w x 7-1/2"d)

Coveside Eastern Bluebird House
The finest bluebird house on the market! Predator guard is standard to keep starlings, squirrels and other undesirables out, while small floor discourages sparrow nests.
RANGE: Breeds east of the Rockies from southeastern Canada to Gulf of Mexico. Winters in southern part of breeding range and Mexico.
HABITAT: Enjoys open woodlands, fields and farmlands with scattered trees.

(12-1/2"h x 6"w x 8-1/2"d)

Coveside Economy Bluebird House
Same functionality as our standard Eastern Bluebird House, but a "no frills" variety without the pretty features that don't impress the birds. For those who want to put up an extensive bluebird trail at a reasonable price.
(12-1/2"h x 6"w x 8"d)

Coveside Horizontal Bluebird Box
Designed by Frank Zuern to be a safer nesting place for Eastern Bluebirds, this horizontal box simulates a hollow tree branch. Over 90% nest near the back of the box, behind a vertical baffle, out of the reach of predators.
RANGE: Breeds east of the Rockies from southeastern Canada to Gulf of Mexico. Winters in southern part of breeding range and Mexico.
HABITAT: Prefers open woodlands and farmlands with scattered trees.

(6-1/4"h x 6"w x 19-3/4"d)

Coveside Mountain Bluebird House
The largest of the bluebird houses, this box provides an ideal cavity for the only "all-blue" bluebird.
Breeds from southern Alaska, Mackenzie and Manitoba south to western Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona and west to the coast. Winters from British Columbia and Montana south through western U.S.
HABITAT: Breeds in high mountain meadows with scattered trees and bushes; in winter descends to lower elevations, where it prefers the plains and grasslands.

(12-1/2"h x 7-1/4"w x 9"d)

Coveside Open Top Bluebird House
This sparrow-resistant house, similar to our standard bluebird house, has a circular opening in the roof. Naturally, bluebirds will nest in rotten fence posts and stumps, so sun and rain do not deter them. On the other hand, sparrows are not as tolerant. A durable, coated wire barrier prevents predators from entering through the top. In addition, a plastic cap is included to provide shelter after the bluebirds have started nesting and/or can be used to feed mealworms to hungry chicks.
RANGE: Breeds east of the Rockies from southeastern Canada to Gulf of Mexico. Winters in southern part of breeding range and Mexico.
HABITAT: Enjoys open woodlands, fields and farmlands with scattered trees.

(12-1/2"h x 6"w x 8-1/2"d)

Coveside Slant Front Bluebird House
This design is popular because it discourages cats and other predators. Since the bottom tapers, less nesting material is needed. The front opens easily for observation and cleaning. Mount this box high on a post so that potential occupants can be easily observed from a distance.
RANGE: Breeds east of the Rockies from southeastern Canada to Gulf of Mexico. Winters in southern part of breeding range and Mexico.
HABITAT: Enjoys open woodlands, fields and farmlands with scattered trees.

(17"h x 7"w x 9"d)

Coveside Slate Squirrel Guard
This guard is used with the following nesting houses: Window Nest Box, Chickadee, Nuthatch, Titmouse, House Wren, all Bluebird Houses, Saw-Whet Owl and Kestrel.  This guard will protect the box from chewing squirrels.

Coveside Sparrow Resistant Bluebird House
This Kentucky style, slot entrance bluebird house is designed to thwart sparrows. According to research at the University of Kentucky, bluebirds prefer a slot entrance to the standard circular hole -- sparrows prefer the opposite. In addition, sparrows don't like a shallow box and bluebirds don't seem to mind. This box is only 5" deep but if sparrows still continue to be a problem, a wooden insert is included to reduce the depth even more. Sparrows rarely use the 3-1/2" depth, but bluebirds will still occupy it.
RANGE: Breeds east of the Rockies from southeastern Canada to Gulf of Mexico. Winters in southern part of breeding range and Mexico.
HABITAT: Enjoys open woodlands, fields and farmlands with scattered trees.

(10"h x 6"w x 8-1/2"d)

Coveside Western Bluebird House
Needing a slightly larger chamber and entrance hole than their eastern counterpart, this house is ideal for the vivid Western Bluebird.
Breeds in throughout the West, north from western Alberta and southern British Columbia, south down the West Coast to Baja and east to eastern New Mexico and western Texas. Winters within most of the breeding range.
HABITAT: Loves open woodlands and pastures.

(12-1/2"h x 6-3/4"w x 9"d)

Coveside Wood Chips Nesting Material
Nesting Material. Gallon size.

Coveside Wood Predator Guard
Used to protect baby birds form predators reaching in and grabbing them.

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