All Around Great Resources
Essential Materials for Nestbox Monitors
To prepare for monitoring, read the following:
- NABS Factsheet of Monitoring Nestboxes (this is good to print too)
- The VBS How to Monitor Nestboxes including the Nest Box Monitoring Protocol and Bluebird Monitoring Information which includes what to have in your monitoring bag
- Discouraging predators and pests
- More detailed tips in Sialis’ Nestbox Monitoring: Why and How
- Glance thru Predator/Problem Identification and Solutions
To prepare your monitoring notebook or clipboard, print the following materials:
- Forms – Weekly Nestbox Monitoring and How to Use VBS’s Data Forms
- Nest and egg identification – NABS Factsheet of Monitoring Nestboxes
- To calculate the hatch and fledge dates – Bluebird Nesting Guide (“Bluebird math”)
- To determine age of bluebird nestlings – “See How They Grow” from the in Children’s Bluebird Activity Book by Mountain Bluebird Trails. I print these out double-sided and laminate to hand out to students so that they can each calculate the age of nestlings when we monitor.
- For trail leads, VBS Individual Trail Annual Summary Form, Excel file.
Nest and Egg Identification
Bird Behavior at Nestbox by Texas Bluebird Society provides a general description of bluebird behavior during nesting cycle (often applies to other birds as well).
For tips on nestbox monitoring, behavior and reproduction, visit NestWatch is a nest-monitoring project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in collaboration with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Their NestWatch Manual is a great guide for VBS nestbox monitors to get started.
For Children and Educators
Children’s Bluebird Activity Book by Mountain Bluebird Trails is designed for children but, with its excellent visuals, stories, and activities, it is great for those of all ages interested in cavity nesting birds. Includes a word search, vocabulary quizzes, information on history and conservation.
Sialis’ Children’s Bluebirdy Activities Web page provides links to activity books, games, poems, arts and crafts, rhymes, songs, coloring pages, and curriculum.
North American Bluebird Society’s Education Packet contains coloring pages, puzzles, and informative pages designed for grades 1-5.
Flying WILD is a program of the Council for Environmental Education that trains teachers so they can introduce students to bird conservation through standards-based classroom activities and environmental stewardship projects.
What you can do to help native birds
Clean out the birdhouses in your yard and discourage invasive house sparrows from nesting, so that native birds can have a fighting chance. If chickadees are nesting, put a smaller 1 1/8″ or 1 1/4″ faceplate on the hole then remove it once they fledge.
Plant native plant to attract native birds. Many people ask what they can plant to encourage native birds. The answer is simple – native plants! Bluebirds eat berries in the winter. Many types of berry producing plants will attract and nourish birds. This includes plants such as holly, dogwood, bayberry, winterberry, service berry, hawthorn, sumac, privet inkberry, and Virginia creeper. Learn more about berry-producing plants and plants that attract birds.
Participate in Neighborhood Nestwatch, a citizen-science program that provides an opportunity to be a biologist in your own backyard or schoolyard.