One of those winters in Missouri

April 7, 2021

Fielding calls about “winterkilled” Bluebirds in nest boxes
by MOBS President Steve Garr

The artic blast we received here in Missouri and other areas in mid February was certainly hard on our Bluebirds. Scattered reports have started coming in of finding dead bluebirds in nest boxes. Periodically, areas have winters with extended severe cold that result in this situation with Bluebirds in particular. Often, in these circumstances the Bluebird “hosts” feel they have done something wrong or didn’t do something they should have. Please know that is truly not the case in the vast majority of these cases. I think rarely is lack of food or water the cause. For the most part it involves the habit of our Eastern Bluebirds of piling into a cavity (whether a nest box or corner or piece of equipment or whatever) to stay warm. Even when you have SEVERAL nest boxes available within feet of each other they will all pile into just one or two. In these super cold temps for such a long time, sadly, the birds on the bottom can just get smothered.

Please do not think this means you need to close up nest boxes! They provide such valuable winter cover for many birds. However, while Carolina Wrens or Downy Woodpeckers or Chickadees may roost in the boxes for warmth they rarely roost in them with more than one or a few individuals. ( I have never seen a box with more than one Downy at a time roosting in the box.) Bluebirds on the other hand can sometimes have 20 or more birds inside a standard size nest box. (sometimes the last one in still has their tail sticking out of the box). This is OK unless they are in there for an extended length of time under extreme temps. If you have a very successful breeding season (which is great!) and lots of Bluebirds, you are more likely to see more dead bluebirds in the boxes in these unusually cold years.

There has been some research and much speculation as to whether or not these “winterkilled” birds in the nest boxes are local resident birds or if in mid to late February some of them could be birds that were on their way back north to their breeding grounds. I don’t know the answer to that question positively, however I do know that here in Missouri we generally have the highest number of Bluebirds coming to our feeders, bird baths, and yards in the month of February.

My good friend (and MOBS member) Bob Peak has perhaps done more research and documentation on “winterkill” in Bluebirds than anyone I know. Bob and his wife Judy monitor an extensive nest box trail at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. They also maintain a trail in Henderson, KY . The Peaks have a vast number of boxes (over 200) and decades of winters and nesting season data from which to pull when researching the loss of bluebirds in the winter in nest boxes. Naturally when I began getting calls a few weeks ago about dead Bluebirds in boxes I reached out to the Peaks. Given the size of their trail and the number of boxes they monitor, it was not surprising to hear they had also been finding dead bluebirds in some of their nest boxes. Bob wrote a very interesting paper concerning winterkilled bluebirds which can be found on the NABS Website in the Summer 2016 issue of the Bluebird Journal.

Roosting boxes ( boxes designed for roosting and not nesting) and roosting box plans are available fairly widely. Some Bluebirders feel they are very beneficial to use– others do not. Perhaps that is a good topic for a future newsletter.

This I do know: As important as it is for us all to turn in our Trail Summary Report each season to MOBS’ nesting data chair Greg Samuel—this year it will be even more important. Enclosed in the Winter 2021 newsletter is a recording form for you to make copies and use on your trail if you would like. (this is not the SUMMARY report form you will turn in to Greg. That form can be found by clicking this link and is distributed annually in the newsletter). How ever you choose to collect nest box data on your trail, be sure to send your summary report to Greg at the end of the 2021 nesting season.

I know this is not happy news or a fun part of birding but I thought it was important info to have and I hope Bluebirders will take heart in knowing their efforts for our native cavity nesters ARE worthwhile and beneficial. Thank you all who have been hosting bluebirds year -round in Missouri.


2020 Mail-in Raffle Winners!

April 7, 2021

Because we had to cancel our 2020 conference due to the pandemic, (thus eliminating our Annual Auction/Raffle) MOBS Board elected to host a mail-in Raffle . Sixty Eight members participated and MOBS raised $945.00!

And the Winners Are…

Audubon Great Blue Heron Print:
Dana and Ethan Duke,
Marshall, MO

Audubon House Wren Print:
Dana and Ethan Duke,
Marshall, MO

The Darling Bird Quilt:
Cindy and Joy Haeffner,
Hermann, MO

Audubon Oriole Print:
Leonard (pictured) and Ellen
Conrad, Stover, MO

The Bluebird Basket:
Fred and Susan Burk,
Kirkwood, MO

Thank you to all who participated!


Raffle to benefit MOBS!

December 29, 2020

Raffle tickets are now on sale for several framed Audubon prints, a bluebird basket and a darling bird quilt. Additional information and raffle ticket form can be found at the following link:

Raffle tickets for sale NOW to benefit MOBS!

This raffle is open to anyone wishing to support the Missouri Bluebird Society! Please note, MOBS will only ship items at no charge to addresses within the 48 contiguous United States.


2020 Conference Canceled

June 11, 2020

Dear Bluebirders and Friends,

After much deliberation, and in the interest of safety to our MOBS members, conference attendees, and all who would be involved in the event, the Board of Directors of the Missouri Bluebird Society has elected to cancel the 2020 Missouri Bluebird Conference, originally scheduled for July 10th -12th. There are no plans at this time to reschedule the 2020 conference. While we are sad to make this announcement, we hope everyone will appreciate that, given the issues caused by the global Covid pandemic, we will be putting safety first and looking forward to a wonderful conference 2021.

I am very proud of our entire Board for coming together (electronically) to discuss and come to this decision. Each Board Member is an asset to MOBS and we are all fortunate to have such dedicated and talented individuals volunteering their time and efforts for our Society.

We also certainly appreciate each of our MOBS members and thank you for the work you all do to further Bluebird and cavity-nester Conservation in your part of the world.

Please know that this cancellation does not preclude the possibility of MOBS-sponsored learning events in a variety of alternative fashions prior to our 2021 Missouri Bluebird Conference. We will keep you posted on any developments and are looking forward to seeing everyone again!

Do what you can to help the Bluebirds,
Steve Garr
Missouri Bluebird Society, President


2020 Missouri Bluebird Society Conference

June 7, 2020

Save The Dates!

July 10-12,  2020

Jefferson City, Missouri

Watch for updates on speakers, field trips, and more here on the MOBS
website and Facebook page and in upcoming issues of The Fledgling.

 


2019 Missouri Bluebird Society Conference

April 9, 2019

Save The Dates!

July 12-14,  2019

Meet Me in St. Louis

Host Hotel: Drury Inn & Suites, Creve Coeur
Friday and Saturday Venue: Orlando’s Event Center, Maryland Heights

An invitation from Bob Siemer and Ann Earley,
the 2019 Bluebird Conference Chairs:
“Mark your calendars to join the flock at the 2019 MOBS annual
conference in St. Louis! Learn more about the latest in bluebird tips for
both beginning and experienced bluebirders, and find out how to attract more birds to your yard and garden. Share bluebird photos and
network with MOBS friends, and enjoy a special presentation about
owls. Meet us in St. Louis, July 12-14!”

Friday Evening Bluebird Banquet

Our speaker for Friday evening will be Margy Terpstra, who lives in Kirkwood, MO and is an active member of Missouri Nature & Environmental Photographers.

Check out her blog and photography here https://hummerhavenunltd.com/blog

Saturday Educational Programs

  • Why our yards are so important to the full life-cycle conservation of Native Birds by Margy Terpstra
  • Bluebirds of Forest Park in St. Louis by Amy Witt, Park Ecologist
  • Bluebird Basics by MOBS members Joe and Linda Pridgeon
  • Owls of Missouri by Brenda Hente
  • Butterflies of Missouri and the Missouri Butterfly Monitoring Network by Tad Yankoski, Entomologist, Sophia M. Sachs, Butterfly House in Chesterfield, MO

For conference brochure and registration form please click here!

For registration form only please click here!


2018 Missouri Bluebird Society Conference

February 21, 2018

Save The Dates!

July 13-15,  2018

Lincoln University Carver Farm
3804 Bald Hill Road
Jefferson City, MO)

New This Year:
Saturday Morning Nest Box and Baffle Building Workshop!
Learn to build proper nest boxes and predator baffles.

Speakers this year include:

Steve Smith talking bluebird basics.

Bob Siemer and Ann Earley explaining why they are “Wild about Monarchs!”

The Saturday evening Social and Sunday Field Trip will be held at the beautiful “Mockingbird Hill” in Jefferson City owned by MOBS members Norm and Beth Stucky. The Saturday evening social will also include entertainment from Americana artist Andy May.

For conference brochure and registration form please click here!


2017 Missouri Bluebird Society Conference

February 27, 2017

Save The Dates!

July 15 – 16,  2017

at the Warsaw Community Building
Located at Drake Harbor on the
Beautiful Lake of the Ozarks!
818 W. Harrison, Warsaw, MO 65355

Come help us celebrate
the 2nd decade of the

Missouri Bluebird Society!

Speakers include:
Bob and Judy Peak discussing “White bluebird eggs” and “Curiousities in the bluebird world”
Dana Ripper and Ethan Duke passing on information using birds as educational tools
and MOBS President Steve Garr will talk bluebird basics

Additional information on the conference and registration can be found at the following links:

2017 Missouri Bluebird Society Conference Brochure

Registration Form


Passing of a friend

August 12, 2016

Dear Missouri Bluebird Society Members,

It is with much sadness that I share with you news of the passing of our good friend and fellow bluebirder, Russ Heindselman. Russ passed away on Monday, August 8th at the age of 88.

Services will be held Saturday, August 13th at 10 a.m. at Culver-Stockton College’s Alexander Campbell auditorium. You may read Russ’s obituary, send condolences, and learn more about arrangements at the following link:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/whig/obituary.aspx…

Because Russ’s family knew how much he loved bluebirds, they have chosen the Missouri Bluebird Society to be a recipient of memorial donations made in Russ’s name. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to Russ’s family and friends. He will be greatly missed by Missouri Bluebird Society members and by Missouri’s Bluebirds!

Steve Garr
MOBS, President


2016 Missouri Bluebird Society Conference

February 8, 2016

MOBS 10th

Join us as we celebrate the
10th Anniversary of the Missouri Bluebird Society
at the George Washington Carver Farm,
Lincoln University in Jefferson City

June 10th thru the 12th, 2016
3804 Bald Hill Rd, Jefferson City, MO 65101

Conference brochure with additional information can be found at the following link:

2016 Conference Brochure