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Restoring bluebirds in Wisconsin for over 30 years

A bluebird nesting box. BRAW volunteers have worked to restore the population of Eastern bluebirds. Photo submitted by Jean-Pierre Lafouge

The Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin is celebrating its 31st year of success in restoring the populations of the Eastern bluebird in the state. Organized and started by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Recourses to recover the diminishing numbers of bluebirds in Wisconsin, BRAW's trail monitors maintain nesting boxes for the Eastern bluebird, as well as other native cavity nesters.

Every week during the nesting season, dedicated BRAW volunteers check on their bluebird trail boxes. Monitors may have nesting box trails consisting from one to over 100 nesting boxes. The monitoring chores includes repairing boxes and preventing predators in destroying bluebird nesting attempts. Monitors also work to optimize nesting box placement. BRAW has about 450 monitors for over 9,000 nesting boxes throughout the state.

Nest box predators include raccoons, snakes, cats and humans, but the most concerning is the non-native house sparrow. House sparrows are an invasive species that remains an aggressive predator on all cavity-nesting birds. This imported bird frequently disrupts cavity nesting attempts by native birds and is principally responsible for the decline in population numbers. BRAW monitors have methods to keep invasive species at bay, but it takes a large concerted effort. House sparrows are not protected by any law.

Interested parties wishing to start or monitor a trail should seek the BRAW coordinator for their county at www.braw.org.

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