Sycamore Grove Farm, Madison County
Bluebirds are one of my favorite “small birds” (and I have a lot of favorite small birds, including juncos, goldfinches, nuthatches, titmice and chickadees). Its cheerful “chur-lee chur-lee” is immediately recognized by those who know and love these little guys. The bluebirds at Sycamore Grove love to sit on our barn’s weathervane, giving them a good view of the different areas where they may find insects – their main food source.
Eastern bluebirds in Virginia usually don’t migrate. A small percentage may move short distances south but most remain on their breeding territories all year round. What we may see soon (late February or early March) is the bluebirds that breed further north, some going all the way up into Canada.
Our local bluebirds begin looking for nesting sites as early as late January to early February. Nest-building and breeding begins in March and can run through August. I have been seeing several pairs of bluebirds investigating one of our nest boxes for the last few weeks.
We have two bluebird houses on poles in open areas. Last year we had three fledgings of baby bluebirds from one nest. The second nest was commandeered by tree swallows, which are among the other birds that frequently use bluebird nest boxes.
If you’re going to put up a nest box (or two or three), be sure to install a noel guard and a snake baffle. For information on how to attract bluebirds and create a bluebird trail on your own property, check out the Virginia Bluebird Society at https://www.virginiabluebirds.org/ and the Sialis Society for https://www.sialis.org/ .
There are many opportunities for ORMN members to see bluebird trails as well as to volunteer to help monitor them. You can see the different trails under “Approved ORMN Volunteer Projects and Activities” on our website. Scroll down to the Virginia Bluebird Society listings where there are 18 trails across seven different counties. Members can also install new bluebird box trails.
Birding tip of the day:
While I normally bird early in the morning, I sometimes do a second and even a third walk on the same day just to see what different species may be out later in the day. Vultures are much more likely to be up soaring over our farm mid-day when there are thermals that they can use. Later in the day I frequently see large groups of birds such as robins that are banding together and heading toward their overnight nesting site. And at dusk, while you might not see them, you may hear the night birds like owls beginning their evening feeding. Try going out at a different time occasionally, just to see the variety of activity that is happening right in your back yard.
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