A nest of dry grasses and weeds is built mostly by the female in an old woodpecker
cavity or a nest box. From 4 to 5 blue eggs hatch in about two weeks. Both parents care
for young who leave the nest in 15-18 days.
The Bird Banding Lab web site reports that between 1955 to 1997, a total of 349,578 Eastern Bluebirds were banded. Of these, only
2,195 have been recovered, a recovery rate of 0.627%. Banding studies show that some
Eastern Bluebirds are short distance migrants while others are resident year round. They
may live up to 6 years in the wild. If you should recover a banded bird, report the band
number to the Bird Banding Lab by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Bluebirds are economically important as they consume large quantities of destructive
insect pests. Until the early 1970's, Bluebird populations suffered from pesticides, loss
of trees with cavities and increased competition from other cavity nesters, especially
House Sparrows and Starlings. This trend was reversed in 1978 with the founding of the
North American Bluebird Society. Since then, many concerned bird watchers all across North
America have built and placed specially designed Bluebird boxes in suitable habitats. As a
result, Bluebird populations have recovered and are doing well in many regions.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Warning
Those who monitor Bluebird trails occasionally find that mice have taken up
residence in a Bluebird house. It is well established that certain species of wild mice such as the white footed mouse, the deer mouse,
piņon mouse, brush mouse, and even chipmunks are reservoirs of the dangerous Hantavirus. In some areas, up to 30% or more of the wild
population of mice can be infected.
Humans contract the virus when mouse saliva or excreta are inhaled as aerosols
or dust containing mouse excreta is inhaled. The virus can also be directly
introduced into broken skin, into the eye, by ingestion of contaminated food or
water, or by a mouse bite.
This virus has one of the highest fatality rates of this group of viruses,
with a case fatality rate approaching 60%.
If you are cleaning out mouse contaminated areas, your risk of becoming infected may be small, but proper precautions should be followed to
prevent infection. This is not a virus to take chances with.
Some precautions include
- wearing a good quality dust mask.
- wearing good quality disposable latex gloves
- wet down the mouse nest and contaminated bluebird box with a 5% bleach
solution or other household disinfectant to deactivate the virus and prevent dust from becoming air
For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on the Hantavirus
threat, please log on to the CDC web page at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hantvrus.htm
Back to Top | Back to Bird
All images are courtesy of CWBO. All image copyrights are owned by CWBO.
Any use of these images must have permission of CWBO.