Every year beginning on December 1st, the Friends of Hagerman give the public an opportunity to support the Eastern Bluebird population and learn all about them via the Adopt-A-Nestbox Program.
Participants of the Adopt-A-Nestbox program will have their name on one of the nestboxes along a Hagerman NWR hiking trail, and will receive an email every week during nesting season with a picture of the inside of the nestbox and an explanation of its stages of development. An adopted nestbox makes a great Christmas gift!
Donations to the Adopt-A-Nest Program help support the expense of maintaining the impressive Bluebird trail of nearly 50 nestboxes throughout the refuge.
The Adopt-A-Nestbox program is sold out. Look for sales to begin on December 1st, 2022 for the 2023 season!
The Eastern Bluebirds at Hagerman NWR were hit hard by the winter storm of 2021, many were lost. We are working hard to provide nestboxes and restore their habitat, and you could help by considering a Donation. Donations will help replace nestboxes and expand our nestbox trails.
By Wes Crawford
The Nestbox Program has been a well-established volunteer activity of the Friends of Hagerman since 2013. Every year volunteers are monitoring nearly 50 nestboxes on Harris Creek and Raasch Hiking Trails.
Volunteers usually do box repair, relocations and cleaning during the off season from September through February. Then, towards the end of February, nestbox monitors pair up and select the trails they prefer to monitor for the season. The monitoring season begins in late February and ends in August. Based on scheduling, each team monitors about one time each month. Monitoring normally occurs on Wednesday or Thursday in the late morning or early afternoon. Volunteers sometimes have to be flexible about their monitoring day due to weather or trail conditions.
Monitors carefully open each box and note observations on the Cornell NestWatch data sheet. Some nestboxes have sponsors and a photo is taken. Monitors will remove nests and clean the box once the chicks have fledged. A designated volunteer enters the data for all of the nestboxes into the Cornell database for scientific monitoring and research. Another volunteer takes the photos and prepares reports for the Adopt-A-Nestbox program sponsors.
There is nothing like the joy in seeing the royal blue male Eastern Bluebird on top of the nestbox or the female bravely huddled over her eggs or the site of the fully feathered young waiting for the queue to fledge. One of our volunteer monitors this year was blessed by actually seeing a chick peck out of the egg. Although our target species is Eastern Bluebirds, other species benefit from use of the nestboxes including: Carolina Wren, Bewicks Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse and Prothonotary Warbler.
Thanks to all Friends, volunteers and HNWR staff for supporting this program.
Note: Differences in the species utilizing the nestboxes through the years may be due to our effort to move boxes into more suitable Bluebird habitats.
41 Eastern Bluebird
12 Carolina Chickadee
18 Carolina Wren
130 Eastern Bluebirds
19 Carolina Chickadee/Carolina Wrens
147 Eastern Bluebirds
9 Carolina Chickadee
22 Carolina Wrens
140 Eastern Bluebirds
26 Carolina Chickadee
22 Carolina Wrens
122 Eastern Bluebirds
3 Carolina Chickadees
44 Carolina Wrens
6 Bewick’s Wrens
9 Tufted Titmice
5 Prothonotary Warblers
2011 to 2016:
939 Eastern Bluebird
147 Carolina Wren
97 Carolina Chickadee
73 Tufted Titmouse
23 Prothonotary Warbler
14 Bewick's Wren
Photo by Larry Wecsler
Photo by Laurie Blankenship-Lawler
Photo by Bill Powell
Male Bluebird by Randall Patterson
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Special thanks to Nancy Miller for the amazing photo of the Visitor Center