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This year we are excited that we have a pair of Western Bluebirds nesting in a nest box on our property southwest of Eugene. This has not always been the case, so we feel very fortunate to have them successfully raising six chicks this year. As I write this in mid-June, these chicks are within a day or two of flying. The pair of adults may even nest again this year if all goes well!
It is quite a treat to see them on a daily basis. They hunt insects in the vegetable garden, come to the water source in the front yard, and make food deliveries to the nest box throughout the day. They vigorously defend their box from any other birds that get too close. One morning the male bluebird chased off a Western Wood-Pewee looking for a perch and forced it to move on to a nearby tree.
Western Bluebirds have population pressures due to habitat loss and competition from other bird species, mainly European Starlings and House Sparrows. These two non-native species nest earlier and take nest cavities that might otherwise be used by bluebirds.
It has been four years since we had Western Bluebirds fledge successfully at our property. The last time they tried, the female parent disappeared, perhaps the victim of a predator, and the male was unable to continue feeding the chicks, so the nest failed. The past few years, bluebirds showed up in the spring but did not stay to build a nest here. Over our 20-plus years of providing nest boxes, we have seen 79 fledged Western Bluebirds. After this year we hope to add six or more to the total. You can see why this year is special, both for us and for the bluebird pair with six chicks!
For more information about them visit allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Bluebird/lifehistory.