Loss of natural nesting holes, increased pesticide use, and competition with the sparrow and starling have all contributed to declines of this bird.
Fortunately, more people are able to see these beautiful birds because of programs such as the Kansas Bluebird Trails Program.
Any organization willing to put up a series of nest boxes can contribute to this bird's success. Bluebird trails consist of 10 or more boxes mounted on fence posts or pipes.
Because bluebirds feed primarily on insects caught in relatively short grass, boxes should be placed near pastures, hayfields, and meadows. (Bluebirds will not nest in heavily wooded areas.) Boxes should be placed about 100 yards or more apart because the birds are territorial.
"Bluebirds first migrate to Kansas in February to join the few that have over-wintered here," says Ken Brunson, wildlife diversity coordinator for Wildlife and Parks, "so boxes should be up by March 1. You should put them about 4 to 6 feet off the ground. It's really important to check them about once a week, too, just to make sure undesirable tenants -- such as house sparrows -- haven't moved in."
House sparrow nests should be removed immediately, according to Brunson, but boxes may be used by other native species, such as house wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice and tree swallows.
Any organization wanting to establish a bluebird trail may obtain as many as 10 boxes free from Wildlife and Parks. Call 316 672-5911 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, for the name and phone number of your local biologist, who will order the boxes for your group.
Individuals interested in making their own boxes may also phone or e-mail for nest box plans.