Once, long ago, the Eastern Bluebird was one of North Carolina’s most common songbirds. Man’s activities, several severe winters, and other factors resulted in our bluebird population declining by as much as 90%. Now the bluebird is making a strong comeback due largely to conservation efforts. However, the continuing loss of natural nesting sites and other problems faced by bluebirds indicate that this beloved bird will always need man’s help to survive.
Reasons for Bluebird Decline
- DDT killed the insects bluebirds fed on and even killed the birds themselves.
- Nesting sites were lost when wooden fence posts were replaced with metal posts and dead trees and limbs were cut for firewood and to make wooded areas more attractive.
- Many small farms have been combined into large operations with huge fields that destroy the mixed habitat needed by bluebirds.
- Cities have spread into rural areas further reducing bluebirds’ preferred habitat.
- Birds eat constantly during the day in order to survive cold winter nights. When their food is covered by heavy snow or ice, thousands of birds die.
- The winter food supply has also been reduced greatly by civilization’s spread and the introduction of the European Starling which strips the fruit from the trees early in the fall.
- In the 1800’s man brought the European Starling and House (English) Sparrow (which is really a European weaver finch) to this country from Europe upsetting our balance of nature forever. These birds are so adaptable and aggressive that they spread across the continent taking nesting sites and even killing the native birds and destroying their eggs.