"I want to catch a bluebird for Millie," Stephen declared one day after school.

"Catching a bluebird might be tricky. Maybe you could help Millie create a bluebird environment at her house. If she's successful, a pair of bluebirds might move in, build a nest, and have a family right in Millie's backyard. Millie could watch their activity, learn about bluebirds, and always have bluebirds around her. Stephen liked this idea.

So, Stephen and Millie, here's a "to do" list:

• Choose a wooden nesting box with a 4 by 4 inch floor and no perch. The box should have a 1.5 inch-diameter hole.


• Place the box in an open, mowed area—lawn, open field, farmland, pasture, or park at least 100 ft. from a wooded area.

• Mount the nest box 4 to 5 feet high on a pole, facing in any direction. Use a baffle or 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe as a predator guard.

• Check the box for activity at least once a week during spring and early summer. Opening the box will not hurt the birds. Before opening the box, stand to the side and knock. This will warn the bird that you are there and about to open the door. If she is home she will fly out, then you can look inside.

• Bluebirds make tall, neat nests out of fine grasses and pine needles. They lay 4 to 6 blue eggs. (House sparrow nests are made of grass, sticks, and paper scraps, and they are built to the top of the box. If you see this type of nest, remove it. They are non-native birds that compete with bluebirds for habitat.)

• After the bluebird young fledge and leave the nest, remove the old nest from the box. Bluebirds can build nests, lay eggs, and raise young up to three times a season.

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