The western bluebirds residing on and around Indian Hill Mesa near the boundary of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and the former Claremont Golf Course property have a new 'home address' as of January 16, 2014.
Due to the closure of the golf course in 2013 and the now restricted access to the property, the ten western bluebird nest boxes that used to be located in trees within the golf course have been relocated to the western edge of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. This short move allows the bluebird population ongoing access to the nest boxes while still being in close proximity to their favored habitat – the open spaces provided by the former golf course fairways. The move also allows volunteers, including Marty Marino of the Southern California Bluebird Club, access to boxes for maintenance and regular population monitoring. The Garden is now the location for an important ongoing project, the California Bluebird Recovery Program.
So why are bluebirds in need of these manufactured, 'artificial' nesting sites?
Nearly 100 species of birds across North America, including the western bluebird, historically nested in holes, or 'cavities' within rotting limbs and trunks of dying or standing dead trees, also known as 'snags'. The softer wood of the dead or dying trees developed natural holes or provided easy access for other 'primary cavity nesters', such as some species of woodpeckers, to excavate cavities within the wood for their nests. Over time, these cavities are used by other species such as the western bluebird that are 'secondary cavity nesters', or birds that do not excavate their own nests, but utilize holes or cavities already within the wood.
Increased habit loss due to human development and the ongoing removal of these trees or dead portions of them, reduces the availability of these natural nesting sites. To ensure their survival, volunteers and organizations such as the Southern California Bluebird Club hang and monitor nest boxes and provide educational information and resources for others to do the same. Click here for more information on the Southern California Bluebird Club and links to other educational information, monitoring equipment, nest box information and much more!