Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) populations have declined dramatically in recent years due largely to decreases in savanna and other grassland habitats that have been turned into farmland or other developments. The establishment of nestboxes in good nesting habitat is one of the most effective measures helping to maintain and restore bluebird populations.
Beginning with the building and establishing of 40 nestboxes in 1993 by biology major Dawna Wright, the St. Olaf Bluebird Trail has grown to 64 boxes that are placed around the Natural Lands on the St. Olaf Campus. Successful nesting has occurred every year ranging from 18 bluebirds (Sialia sialis) fledged the first year to about 70 fledged every year recently. The trail is monitored by students in the vertebrate biology class every spring and by student workers on the Natural Lands every summer. Reproductive and nesting data from our field research are sent to the Minnesota Bluebird Recovery Program of the Minneapolis chapter of the Audubon Society as well as to the North American Bluebird Society every year. These organizations conduct long term information studies on this species.
Three types of bluebird nestboxes are used in our trail system: Peterson, Gilwood, and PVC boxes.