WELCOME TO THE MICHIGAN BLUEBIRD SOCIETY!
Male bluebird feeding a female bluebird - photo courtesy of Dave Kinneer
The Michigan Bluebird Society is a group of individuals dedicated to helping bluebirds and other native cavity nesting bird species in the state of Michigan. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and an affiliate of the North American Bluebird Society.
Why There is a Need to Help Bluebirds and What You Can Do
Because of habitat loss, environmental pollution, and competition of non-native bird species (House Sparrows and European Starlings), bluebirds have suffered large declines compared to their original numbers. However, bluebirds have been shown to thrive in areas where there is human-provided housing that is actively monitored. As a result, through the efforts of many people, bluebirds have increased in numbers in the last 10 years. Putting up a nest box is the easiest and most important thing you can do. Not only are you helping bluebirds to populate, but watching a pair of adults build a nest, lay eggs, and feed their young is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things you will ever experience. Just ask any bluebird landlord - you'll be hooked and changed forever!
The Michigan Bluebird Society is an affiliate of the North American Bluebird Society.
Video: Learn How To Become A Bluebird Landlord in 8 Minutes
Michigan Bluebird News......
How To Identify Nests In Your Bluebird Boxes
When monitoring your nest boxes, you’re likely to see different kinds of nests. Especially if you’re new to this hobby, you may not know how to identify specific bird species nests. This article is a basic primer on how to tell what’s nesting in the box.
Bluebird — at left. The Bluebird nest is a tightly woven nest made entirely of grass (sometimes some pine needles thrown in). Eggs are mostly light blue, but sometimes all white.
Tree Swallow — below right. Swallow nests look like bluebird nests with one exception - they
usually have feathers mixed in. Usually the feathers are white, but they can be other colors. The eggs are all white.
Chickadee — below left. Chickadee nests are usually densely woven cups made of a mixture of mosses, grass, animal hair, and other fine fibers. Eggs are smaller than Bluebird eggs and are brown & white speckled. Chickadee clutch sizes are often larger—6 eggs is not uncommon.
House Wren — these nests are very easy to identify. See above right. They are made of all sticks and will fill up the entire nesting cavity in the house. House Wrens build many dummy nests within their nesting territories, and will fill up all of the nesting boxes with sticks. If it is an active nest, they will build a lined nest cup area in the lower rear of the nest mass. Note that although House Wrens are native cavity nesting birds, they can be very destructive to other nesting birds including bluebirds. Common behaviors include destroying eggs and removing eggs and young birds from the nest. So, trying to attract both wrens and bluebirds with nesting boxes may not be advisable.
Titmouse — These charming birds build a nest, which looks similar to the Chickadee's nest. It is often made of mosses, grass, leaves, and animal hair fibers. The eggs are also light with brown specks.
House Sparrow — See below. This is one nest every Bluebird landlord needs to be able to identify. But it’s an easy one. The entire nest cavity is filled with an unkempt mix of grasses, sticks, feathers, pieces of plastic, and other debris. The eggs are whitish with brown blotches and specks. It is extremely important to remove all sparrow nests from your housing as soon as they are built. Consider trapping the sparrows using in-box traps to remove them permanently from your habitat. (House sparrows are a non-native, invasive species not protected by State or Federal law).
Other oddities — Sometimes you may find a cowbird egg in your bluebird house among the bluebird eggs. Cowbirds are parasitic in their nesting habits in that they lay eggs in other birds’ nests in order for these parents to raise their chick. Typically, they lay one egg in each nest. This egg is similar in size to the bluebird, but is whitish with brown flecks and blotches.
Please don't hesitate to contact MBS with any questions or problems you might have. We are available to assist you in your bluebirding efforts. To find a County Coordinator near you or for a general contact at the MBS, please go to Contact Us.
Your friends at the Michigan Bluebird Society