To greet the early spring arrival of Idaho's state bird, the Mountain Bluebird, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Clearwater Region is currently offering the public bluebird nest boxes for a small fee. All funds received are used to purchase additional project material and enhance the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area located near the IDFG office.
Materials for the sturdy, cedar nest boxes were donated from local lumber mills and constructed from IDFG volunteer, Don Kunze of Lewiston. Discovering the fun and satisfaction that comes from building nest houses, Kunze has built several hundred nest boxes for IDFG.
"I enjoy carpentry, being outdoors and learning about wildlife," says Kunze. "Volunteering allows me to do it all, plus do something meaningful for the bluebirds."
Bluebirds nest throughout Idaho in higher elevation meadows, forested areas and open ridges in mountainous regions. However, many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood or taken by aggressive non-native species like the European starling and house sparrow, so many bluebirds never find nest sites. Man-made nest houses can help fill the natural nest-site shortage.
Because bluebirds seldom nest in urban areas, boxes should be placed far from any building or community. In urban areas, bluebird nest boxes are likely to attract highly aggressive bluebird competitors such as starlings or house sparrows. Bluebirds are territorial, so boxes should be placed at least 100 yards apart. Protect boxes from prevailing winds and the hot afternoon sun by mounting them on the lee side of mounting posts or trees, never facing south or west. For more information of Idaho's bluebirds or volunteering for IDFG, please contact the Clearwater Region Office, 1540 Warner Ave., Lewiston, 83501, 799-5010.