River Farm – Bluebird Trail Update

River Farm meadows showing one of the new boxes – photo Jerry Nissley

Washington’s River Farm, the home of the American Horticulture Society (AHS) has renovated their Bluebird Trail, with assistance from FMN. The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), once as common as the robin, saw a drastic decline in population for reasons including loss of habitat, pesticide use, an influx of feral house cats, and the introduction of the House Sparrow and the European Starling.

FMN Susan Farmer (AHS/FMN liaison) called together a team of 8 FMN volunteers to help install and monitor the bluebird boxes at River Farm. Susan set up both on-line and field training for the monitors who are now monitoring the boxes and logging activity every week in teams of two.

Chicks and eggs – Photo FMN Donna Stauffer

This initial season of monitoring has seen success and tragedy. In early April one nest box was recorded to contain five blue eggs. In mid-April, two eggs had hatched with the other three eggs still viable. However, by the first check in May, the box was observed to be empty. Perhaps through vandalism but nothing could be confirmed. Measures to mitigate chances of a reoccurrence have been implemented and hopefully this will not happen again. In any event, the box once again contains bluebird eggs and FMN will continue with due diligence to monitor and report activity.

Empty box – Photo Jerry Nissley

During a recent day of monitoring, Glenda Booth from the Connection newspaper, joined in to journal what has been done at AHS and what is involved with monitoring nest boxes. Coincidentally, Glenda’s visit was on the day the open box was discovered. Her article may be read HERE. Hardcopy newspapers, with photos, may be found at Sherwood Hall library and other Mt Vernon area Fairfax County buildings.

If you are interested in any aspect of this project please contact FMN Susan Farmer [email protected]