Eastern Bluebirds are one of our the most colorful and engaging local birds. In February 2024, South Riding Proprietary (SRP) became the home to 20 new Eastern Bluebird
nest boxes thanks to a generous grant from the Virginia Bluebird Society (VBS) with the support of South Riding Proprietary (SRP) and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC). With the support of these groups, we were able to provide new safe nesting opportunities for future generations of Bluebirds and other cavity nesters such as Tree Swallows, House Wrens, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice.

The introduction of alien Starlings and House Sparrows along with the loss of farmland in the 19th and 20th centuries seriously depleted the native population of cavity nesters, especially, Bluebirds. Now with local and national programs established to create safe havens of carefully designed nest boxes, Bluebird populations are rebounding.

Thanks to the leadership of Nathan Stewart, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Eagle Scout Candidate and Ryan Smith, Jason Smith, Clint Smith, Kevin Stewart, Brendan Stewart, Aedan Stewart, Isla Stewart, Rachel Stewart, Michael Sciortino, Frank Gardner, James Glover, James Irrgang, Alex Cocchiaro, Shourya Agarwal, Isabella Irrgang, Janelle Irrgang, Jason Keffer, Ryan Keffer, Richard Farina, Hayden Cochran, Kellan Reavill, the nest boxes have been installed and are awaiting Bluebirds for the nesting season that runs April to September. Thank you to Chick-fil-A, Dunkin Donuts and Marco’s Pizza for donating breakfast and lunch to the volunteers who installed the houses on February 24th.

No Bluebird nesting program can be successful without a regular monitoring program to ensure the young birds safe development. Loudoun Wildlife has an established program to collect nesting data, and recruit, train, and support Bluebird nestbox trail volunteer monitors. With the addition of the 20 nest boxes in South Riding, Loudoun Wildlife now has over 700 boxes being monitored, the largest number of any county in Virginia. Michael Sciortino, member of the LWC Board of Directors, Bluebird trail leader, and longtime South Riding resident has taken a leadership role in the monitoring program. Thirteen South Riding volunteers,
existing and new, have answered the call to monitor our 20 new boxes. Beginning with a training session held in mid-March, the volunteers are prepared for the forthcoming monitoring season.

To find out more about Loudoun Wildlife and the bluebird monitoring program, please visit loudounwildlife.org. The mission of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is to inspire, motivate, and engage people to protect, preserve, and restore wildlife habitat in Loudoun County. The bluebird monitoring program is part of that effort.

With all these groups and volunteers working together, hopefully, we will soon see the first Bluebirds moving into their new homes in South Riding.

BY FRANK GARDNER – Co-Chair of the SRP Parks and Recreation Committee, former Field Biologist/ Ornithologist, Museum Director, Science Educator and Award-Winning Landscape Designer.