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By Haleya Priest, President

Massachusetts Bluebird Association

There are occasions when bluebirders are asked to assume monitoring and maintenance duties on a bluebird trail started by someone else. This is what Iíve learned about doing that.

First check the trail to make sure it is something you can handle comfortably. If you decide to do this, tell the owner you will tend their trail/box(es), but only if you can revise things, if needed, to be certain the bluebirds will have an optimum and safe environment, and as many bluebirds as possible will fledge.

I tell people that I will pay for any changes needed, and they wonít need to monitor at all if that donít want to; Iíll keep them informed about what is going on.  If they do want to help monitor, they need to know you are the boss.  If they say OK to all of this, make a map and make a list of what you see on the trail.

I recently checked an established trail that had only active House Sparrow nests.  I figured that was very good reason to make the changes I wanted.

Note the repairs each box needs (caulking etc.), and also how you need to move boxes if they are in improper locations.  Note which trail habitats are especially good for bluebirds.

Then, sit down and show the owner your maps and notes, starting with the positives firstówhat is working on their trail.  Next, tell them all the things that will need to be changed.  Be clear what kind of help if any you expect from them.  Have the NABS Fact Sheet in hand and to help explain why you are suggesting changes.

I find it makes it easier for me if people want to participate in trail duties, a little anyway. But, I am learning not to have great expectations.  Most people are only mildly interested in the day-to-day grind of maintaining a box or trail.

Take the owner with you, if you like, as you do your work on the trail.  Feel free to revise your plans if necessary.  Have fun, and make it a trail that works for you! Reap the rewards of seeing more bluebirds and new bluebirds! Everyone will be excited by the results!

Article from Bluebird Journal of the North American Bluebird Society, Winter 2001, Vol. 23, No. 1

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