The Bluebird Trail
Get Involved with Bluebirds: It’s Easy and Rewarding

2020 Bluebird Trail Results 

The DEA Bluebird Trail all started with an idea from past board member, Lynn Havsall. In 2008 she suggested that we create our own “trail”—a series of bird houses strategically placed for cavity-nesting birds such as Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. The following spring 20 bird houses were assembled and put up in two different locations (Blue Hill Mountain and the Bar Harbor Golf Course), and that was our humble beginning! 

The Year of the Bluebird!

This was the 12th season monitoring bird houses on DEA’s Bluebird Trail.  A “bluebird trail” is a series of bird houses strategically placed for cavity-nesting birds such as Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. Each house is given a specific number and its GPS coordinates are recorded. It’s hard to believe that this project started with just 20 houses in two locations!  We now have a total of 379 houses spread throughout Hancock County. 199 houses are on public access or conservation land in 40 locations and another 180 are on private property in 61 locations. Some property owners have added their existing bird houses to our project, but many have purchased them from DEA.  At the end of the 2020 nesting season we received monitor forms from dozens of people who provided data on 346 houses. After the daunting task of reviewing it all, it’s been determined that 387 Eastern Bluebirds, 654 Tree Swallows and 195 Black-capped Chickadees successfully fledged this year! It’s important to note, however,  that 26 nesting attempts failed and 93 houses went unused. So the grand total is 1,236 chicks fledged!  Thanks to everyone who took time to monitor bird houses this season! Our conservation efforts are paying off. What a year for bluebirds!

Notes from this season:

*Houses in the fields below Blue Hill Mountain fledged a record 43 bluebirds!

*170 more bluebirds fledged this year than last.

*The last bluebird chicks fledged around September 9.

*32 houses were used for 2 successful consecutive nestings:  26 of them had two batches of bluebirds in each, 3 had two batches of chickadees, 2 had Tree Swallows first then bluebirds later and 1 had bluebirds first and chickadees later.  

*42 more houses were monitored this year and 246 more chicks fledged.    

*Some bird houses went unused because of reported nesting flying squirrels, bees and wasps taking up residence and a persistent House Wren making “dummy” nests.

*A freak snowstorm in May and a spell of wet, foggy weather the first of July took a toll on nesting bluebirds and swallows, but for the most part, we were lucky with the weather this year.  Even those few 90 degree days later on didn’t seem to bother.   

*Unfortunately several houses have been removed from the project this year for various reasons including bear damage, nuisance hawks and lack of communication.

2020 Data from Public/Conservation Land:  EB= Eastern Bluebird, TS= Tree Swallow, BC= Black-capped Chickadee; F= failed—house had eggs/chicks but unsuccessful in fledging;  U=unused—may have had nest material but no eggs/chicks;  DBL= house had 2 successful nestings; *= incomplete data

18 houses@Great Pond Mt.Wildlands*: 33TS, 25BC, 7U, 1F (Kurt Silberstein)

15@Cooper Farm, Sedgwick: 23EB, 58TS, 2DBL, 1F (Leda Beth Gray, Dave Drake)

15@Blue Hill Mountain: 43EB, 35TS, 5DBL, 3F (Leslie Clapp and Blaise deSibour)

12@Craig Brook Fish Hatchery, Orland: 22TS, 7BC, 6U, 1F (Patrick Dockens)

12@COA Properties, Bar Harbor: 6EB, 46TS, 1F (Roberta Sharp, Perry Moore)

8@Woodlawn, Ellsworth*  

8@Blue Hill Fairgrounds: 9EB, 20TS, 1DBL, 2U, 1F (Sandy and Peter Clapp, Blaise deSibour)

8@Surry Town Properties: 17EB, 9BC, 1DBL, 1U, 3F (Susan Guilford)

7@Parker Ridge, Blue Hill: 11TS, 3U, 1F (Ramona Cosentino)

6@Hatch Cove, Castine: 9EB, 27TS, 1DBL (Jon Albrecht)

6@Butler Field, Blue Hill: 9EB, 16TS, 1DBL, 1U (Chris Austin, Marcia McKeague)

5@MCHT Stone Barn, Bar Harbor: 5EB, 19TS, 1DBL (Perry Moore)

5@Mariner’s Park, Deer Isle: 17TS, 1U (Tenley Wurglitz)

5@Meadowbrook Farm, Sedgwick: 4EB, 21TS (Ann Brayton)  

5@Blue Hill Country Club: 8EB, 19TS, 1DBL (Robin O’Connor)

4@Wooden Boat, Brooklin: 8TS, 6BC, 1F (Richard Hero)

4@Scott’s Landing, Deer Isle: 16TS, 1U (Bonnie Bochan)

4@Furth Field, Surry: 8EB, 9TS, 1DBL, 1U (Susan Shetterly)

4@Seaside Cemetery, Blue Hill: 20EB, 1DBL, 1U (Sandy and Peter Clapp)

3@Penobscot School: 6TS, 3BC 1U (Sue Shaw)

3@Penobscot Cemetery: 8EB, 11TS, 1DBL (Sue Shaw)

3@Mountain View Cemetery, Blue Hill: 5 EB, 8TS (Sue Shaw)

3@Castine Town Cemetery: 5EB, 5TS, 5BC  (Jon Albrecht)

3@Gold Stream Marsh, Surry: 3 EB, 16TS, 1DBL, 1F (Becky Pease, Mike Rioux)

3@Jordon Homestead, Ellsworth: 16TS (Nancy Patterson)

3@Salt Pond Trail, Sedgwick*: 4EB, 11TS, 1DBL (Marilyn Miller, Leslie Clapp)

3@Salt Pond, Sedgwick: 8EB, 10TS, 1DBL (Chrissy Allen and Family)

2@MDI High School: 12TS (Pam Caine)

2@Brooksville School: 9EB, 5TS, 1DBL (Jodie Morris)  

2@Cunningham Ridge Cemetery, Surry: 9EB, 10BC, 2DBL (Paula Mrozicki)

2@MCHT Office, Somesville: 5 BC, 1U (Roberta Sharp)

2@GPMCT Office, Bucksport: 5EB, 6TS (Karen Cote~)

2@ Brooklin Cemetery: 3EB, 1U, 1F (Bernice DeBlois, John Hutchins)

2@GSA Hinckley House: 5TS, 1F (Leslie Clapp, Blaise deSibour)

2@IHT Office, Deer Isle: 4BC, 1U (Tenley Werglitz)

2@Mount View Cemetery, Bar Harbor: 4EB, 6BC (Perry Moore)

2@West Surry Cemetery: 8EB (Donna Foster)

2@Ball Field Preserve, Hancock*: 5EB  (Lesley Straley, Pamela McCullough)

1@BHHT Office, Blue Hill: 5TS

1@South Blue Hill Cemetery: 6BC (Peg Smith)

Forty-eight people monitored 155 bird houses on private land and provided us with data which is included in the total number of birds fledged. Their houses produced 150 EB, 161 TS, 109 BC. There were 10 nesting failures, and 65 houses went unused. If houses continue to be vacant for more than two years, we suggest that they be moved to another area.

Jon Albrecht * Margret Baldwin * Mary Blackstone * Bonnie Bochan * Linda Bohm *Leslie Clapp * Sandy Clapp * Julia Clayton * Diane Coit * Steve Collier * Tim Crowley * Leslie Cummins * David Dietrich * Merrie Eley * Susan Farrar * George Fields * Francois Gervais * Nancy Hathaway * Mary Hennessy * Richard Hero * Connie Howe * Bob Knight * Niki Lawton * Val Libby * Mary Ann McKellar * Meg McVey * Donna Merkel * Marilyn Miller * Jodie Morris * Art Newkirk * Nancy Patterson * Joyce Peterson * Rebekah Raye * Donna Reis* Penny Ricker * Jane Salsman * Anne Schroth * Ken Schweikert * Mike Scott * Sue Shaw * Barbara Shelley * Robyn Silberstein * Peg Smith* Susan Steingass* Doug Stewart * Katherine Strater * Corinne Sucsy * Roberta Wessel

You too can share in the joy of having birds nest on your property by purchasing a DEA-built bird house next spring for $45, ready to install.  Or if you have existing bird houses on your property, why not monitor them weekly and submit your findings?  Be a part of our expanding Bluebird Trail—it’s a great conservation project to get involved with! 

Monitoring Information Packet

More often than not, bluebirds go unnoticed because at a distance their beautiful blue and orange colors aren’t that noticeable to the naked eye. Found in open countryside and meadows, bluebirds primarily feed on insects throughout the spring and summer, but eat mostly berries in fall and winter. They nest in cavities, yet lack the ability to create a cavity, relying on old woodpecker holes and nest boxes.

In the middle of the 1900’s bluebirds were in decline, even raising fears of extinction due to habitat loss, pesticides and competition from non native birds like starlings and house sparrows, two aggressive species that will evict bluebirds from a nest hole. A big component of habitat loss was the tendency for humans to cut the old dead snags where woodpecker holes were the main homes for bluebirds. Fortunately, volunteer nest box programs have helped bluebirds to recover, particularly where correct hole sizes helped eliminate aggressive competitors and predators. Their ongoing recovery depends on nest boxes.

Over the last three years board members of Downeast Audubon have placed 73 nest boxes (bird houses for cavity nesters) at 12 different locations throughout our area. Volunteers monitor them during the nesting season and below are the results from this year. The group of houses at each location is known as a “bluebird trail.”

                                                                                                                                                              Photos courtesy of Leslie Clapp