The Bluebird Trail is a special project of the Audubon Society of Corvallis started by Elsie Eltzroth in 1976. Its mission is to promote the conservation of Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) through field work and scientific studies. The trail consists of hundreds of bluebird nest boxes at dozens of sites on public and private property in Benton and Linn counties. Volunteers check the boxes during spring and summer each year to collect long-term data about bluebird nesting success.
PBS Oregon Field Guide interview with Elsie Eltzroth (via YouTube)
Western Bluebird Nesting Data from 2009 – 2019
How Can You Help the Bluebird Trail?
Set Up Nest Boxes on Your Property
If you have appropriate habitat for bluebirds and want to encourage them to nest on your property, we can provide one or more nest boxes and help you decide where to mount them. In return, please contact Matt Lee when you have nesting bluebirds. A Bluebird Trail volunteer will visit the box to check on the progress of the eggs and chicks. If you prefer to build a nest box yourself or need suggestions for deterring raccoons or other nest predators, follow these links:
Report Your Sightings of Banded Bluebirds
In 2010, we began a study of the survival and longevity of Western Bluebirds in the Mid-Willamette Valley. As part of that study, we placed bands on the legs of some birds. The colors of the bands and their relative positions allow us to recognize individual birds. In order to reach a meaningful conclusion, we need reports of as many sightings as possible. If you see a bluebird with colored leg bands, try to determine which colors are present, on which leg, and in which position (top or bottom). Please report your sightings by filling out a Bluebird Sightings Form and sending it to us.
Become a Bluebird Trail Monitor
A Bluebird Trail monitor is a volunteer who checks on one or more nest boxes during the nesting season. No special birding skills are needed—you learn as you go. ASC Bluebird Trail volunteers offer one-on-one training for new monitors. At the end of the nesting season, monitors report their observations to the Chairperson of the Bluebird Trail, who compiles the results. To learn more about the activities of monitors, download the Bluebird Monitoring Guide. If you’d like to become a Bluebird Trail monitor, contact Matt Lee.
Many resources provide in-depth information for people interested in helping bluebirds and other native cavity-nesters survive and thrive. One comprehensive website devoted primarily to bluebirds is Sialis, named for the genus of the three bluebird species in North America: Western, Mountain, and Eastern. Another excellent website is All About Birds, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.