Eastern Bluebirds Nesting in a Natural Cavity
Did you know that bluebirds will actually nest in trees? It's true! Before humans started putting up houses, bluebirds, like other cavity nesting birds, would search for vacant holes in trees left by woodpeckers from previous nesting seasons.
So why do we need to put up houses? There are several reasons why it's helpful to put up bluebird houses.
1. There aren't as many trees as there used to be, meaning there aren't as many holes for bluebirds to use. Once humans started clearing land for farming, many of the habitats once used by cavity nesting birds disappeared, leaving them without places to raise their young.
2. Bluebirds have soft beaks, and consequently, can't defend themselves well against competition for nesting space. House Sparrows, European Starlings, wrens, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, tree swallows... All of these birds are cavity nesters, meaning they're all competing for those leftover woodpecker holes. Putting up houses provides other places for bluebirds to nest with less competition.
3. Although some birds, such as House Wrens, prefer nesting sites close to trees, bluebirds will happily nest in wide open spaces. When bluebirds search for food, they start by perching someplace where they can scan grassy areas for insects. Then they swoop down to the ground to grab the next meal for them and their babies! Having that open space for bluebirds to hunt for insects can be highly beneficial to the survival of their nestlings. Furthermore, it decreases the likelihood that the bluebird will lose the nesting site competition to another bird, like a wren.
Bluebirds are lovely birds with fascinating nesting habits. Enjoy this video of Eastern Bluebirds using a natural cavity to raise their nestlings!