A bright blue egg in Box Number Eleven: a sure sign of spring at the Accokeek Foundation. Discovered this month in one of the 20 bluebird boxes that line the one-and-a-half mile Ken Otis Bluebird Trail, this little egg signals the start of bluebird season.
Bluebirds are present here from February through November, with some birds overwintering in the park. Like the American Indians and European settlers who came before us—and used dried gourds to draw bluebirds closer to their settlements and fields—we encourage bluebirds to nest in the park.
The Foundation’s trained team of Bluebird Monitors visits our bluebird boxes throughout the season to watch for predators and problems and to record how our bluebirds are faring. The insect-eating cavity nesters have lost much of their habitat over the past several decades, as old trees are cut down and wooden fence posts are replaced with metal. Even those bluebirds that have found a spot to call home can face threats from snakes, opossums, or even other birds, like the sparrows and starlings that will aggressively compete for nest space.
Setting out and monitoring bluebird boxes is an important step in bluebird conservation. Visit the park between dawn and dusk and be on the lookout for these beautiful creatures. You just might come to understand what naturalist John Burroughs meant when he proclaimed, “Thy azure coat and ruddy vest are hues that April loveth best.”