Carl Crow visit!

December 31, 2007


Carl Crow stopped by this morning to visit.  It is difficult to photograph American Crows because they are very jumpy birds and don’t remain stationary very long.  They are socialable birds but always keep an eye out for their arch enemies — Raptors.

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American Crow — 12/31/2007

Click on the link below to read about American Crows.

American Crows

Bluebird Shepherd



Bad feather day!

December 30, 2007

We are getting some much needed rain in Piedmont North Carolina today.  However, the birds are having a “bad feather day” because of the rain.

Wet Bluebird

Photo #1

“What are you looking at? “

Wet Eastern Bluebird — 12/30/2007

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Photo #2

Wet Northern Cardinal — 12/30/2007

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Photo #3

Wet Red-Bellied Woodpecker — 12/30/2007

It pays to keep plenty of suet out for the wild song birds.  It is a high-energy food that helps keep the birds warm on those cold rainy days.

Bluebird Shepherd

Acorn for breakfast!

December 29, 2007

Silas Squirrel stopped by one of the bird feeders this morning to munch on an acorn. Apparently there is a “stash” of acorns buried in the soft dirt next to the concrete base.

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Silas Squirrel — 12/29/2007

To read about Eastern Gray Squirrels, click on the link below.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Bluebird Shepherd

House hunting!

December 28, 2007

Eastern Bluebirds like to check out the suitability of nestboxes in the area.  On warm days in the fall and winter you can spot them looking at all of the real estate in the neighborhood.

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Eastern Bluebird inspecting nestbox  –– 12/28/2007

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Eastern Bluebird getting a second opinion on the nestbox — 12/28/2007

It’s time to get those nestboxes in top shape for the next nesting season.  Be sure to clean the interiors thoroughly and get rid of old nesting material.  Rub the interior surfaces of the ceiling and door with a bar of unscented ivory soap to deter paper wasps from building nests.

If you have questions regarding Eastern Bluebirds, contact Bluebird Shepherd.

Bluebird Shepherd web site officially launched!

December 23, 2007


Please visit the web site which is now officially operational.  Click on the link below: (HFBB) is a non-profit virtual organization dedicated to promoting conservation of all three bluebird species — Eastern, Mountain, and Western. HBFF is not affiliated with any other organization and is staffed entirely by non-paid volunteers.

HFBB operates on a three-pillar approach. The first pillar recognizes the value of the vast untapped treasure of knowledge present among individuals living in the geographical regions inhabited by bluebirds. The second pillar recognizes the value of applied research based on the Scientific Method. The third pillar recognizes the value of education in promoting bluebird conservation especially when our youth are involved at an early age.

HFBB’s three-pronged approach to advancing bluebird conservation:

  • (1) Harvest and distill the vast treasure of bluebird knowledge available
  • (2) Conduct and report on applied research projects directed at bluebird conservation
  • (3) Create and distribute highly effective educational programs and materials

Natural habitats and food supplies are dwindling dramatically every year putting the survival of our bluebird populations at great risk. needs volunteers to join the campaign to conserve our bluebird populations.

Volunteers are needed to fill the following Director Positions:

  • Director – Eastern Bluebirds
  • Director – Mountain Bluebirds
  • Director – Western Bluebirds
  • Director of Research
  • Director of Education
  • Director of Web Content
  • Director of Volunteers

If you would like to volunteer, click on the link provided below.


Volunteers are needed to staff the following functional areas:

  • Educator/Presenter
  • Researcher
  • Educational materials developer
  • Photo contributor
  • BLOG article contributor
  • Web content contributor
  • Volunteer support

If you would like to volunteer, click on the link provided below.


Bluebird Shepherd

Yard cleanup!

December 22, 2007


A turkey vulture stopped by to clean the carcass of a dead squirrel that had been run over by a car.

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 Photo #1 Turkey Vulture – 12–22–2007

click to read about Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures can have wing spans of 25–32 inches and weight as much as 4.4 pounds.  They tend to feed by themselves.

Bluebird Shepherd


Easy to build Eastern Bluebird nestbox

December 17, 2007

This article discusses an Eastern Bluebird nestbox that is an ideal building project for individuals as well as groups .  It can easily be turned into a kit for assembly during workshops or as a school science project.

Suitable materials for building nestboxes can often be obtained from the scrap piles located near new home construction sites.  Be sure to ask the job site supervisor for permission to remove the scrap materials.  AVOID using pressure treated lumber due to its potential to harm woodworkers and birds.

Nestbox building materials for school science projects, bird trails, scout projects, etc. can often be obtained through grants.  Home building supply companies including Lowe’s and Home Depot budget money annually for such grants.  Be sure to submit your request early in the budget year along with a project description.  Be prepared to talk to your local store manager about the project.  A well prepared project plan can be a great help in securing grants.

Before starting a bluebird nestbox building effort be sure to review the specifications for bluebird nestboxes.  Click on the link below to review specifications.

North American Bluebird Society nestbox specifications

Let’s start the discussion by examining a completed nestbox before it is painted or stained.

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Photo #1 – Eastern Bluebird nestbox front view

With the exception of the roof, the nestbox is made of 1 X 6 white pine board.  The nestbox shown in Photo #1 is a flat-roof front-opening type equipped with a metal locking pin located on the lower right side.

The double-roof consists of a 1 X 8 white pine board inner roof covered by a 12” long piece of James Hardie cedar mill fiber cement siding that is 8 1/4” wide.  The double roof provides an effective heat barrier to resist radiant energy absorption.  Radiant energy absorption through roofs is responsible for much of the heating that takes place within nesting chambers on hot summer days.  The fiber cement outer roof will increase the useful life of the nestbox by many years.  The long roof overhang in front provides extra shelter from elements.  This feature affords cover for the adult bluebirds during the feeding phase of the nesting cycle.

A 30–degree upward sloping vent is provided at the top of the door to create an “air scooping effect” when breezes are available.  This feature increases air flow and helps to lower the temperature within the nesting chamber.

The 1 1/2” diameter entrance hole is covered by a circular plate steel protector.  The hole protector prevents hole enlargement by woodpeckers and gnawing  varmints.  Enlarged entrance holes allow undesirable bird species such as Starlings to gain access to the nestbox.

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Photo #2 –  Eastern Bluebird nestbox side view

The nestbox features side roof line vents to improve ventilation and help prevent “heat pockets” from building up under the roof. 

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 Photo #3 – Eastern Bluebird nestbox rear view

The nestbox also features a rear roof line vent to facilitate airflow through the nesting cavity.  This feature is especially useful when breezes are available.  The roof overhang at the rear of the nestbox shelters the roof line vent and helps protect the upper wood surfaces from the elements.

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Photo #4 — Eastern Bluebird nestbox front view with door open

Easy access to bluebird nestboxes to allow monitoring and cleaning is a critical requirement.  This nestbox is a front-opening-type hinged at the top and equipped with a metal locking pin located on the right side.  The floor of the nestbox has been recessed 3/4” to prevent “drip siphoning” and provide a finger hold for opening the door.  Drip siphoning occurs when water crosses the edges of the bottom surfaces and is absorbed by the floor.  The floor has 45–degree corner cuts and a 3/8” diameter center drain hole to provide drainage if water should enter the nesting cavity.

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Photo #5 – Eastern Bluebird nestbox after painting

The nestbox shown above was primed with Zinsser oil-based exterior primer.  A “light sage” colored exterior paint was used as the finish coat on the nestbox.   Lighter colors are desirable to help lower radiant energy absorption.   The metal hole protector was painted royal blue to signify that nestbox is intended for bluebirds. 

Note:  Do not paint or stain the interior surfaces of the nestbox.

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We need your help to survive!

Please help conserve our bluebird population by building safe comfortable durable nestboxes and locating them in suitable nesting areas.

A North American Bluebird Society membership will help in the bluebird conservation effort and also makes a great gift for family members and others.  Click on the link provided below to order a membership or become a sponsor.  You can also donate in memory of a loved one.

North American Bluebird Society membership

If you would like a copy of the plan and bill of materials for the nestbox, click on the link provided below.

Flat roof nestbox plans

Bluebird Shepherd