When I lived on Long Island New York, it was a special treat to see a bluebird. Here in Florida, bluebirds are a common site and that is not surprising. These beautiful birds thrive in open grassy areas with scattered trees, just the type of habitat found on cattle ranches, horse farms, vineyards and other agricultural areas. This is a good thing for farmers because nearly 70% of the bluebird’s diet is insects.
Bluebird populations increased when settlers cleared land for farms and ranches. In the days before pesticides, farmers realized bluebirds controlled insect pests so they built houses for these cavity nesters. With the decline of farms in the late 1800s and early 1900s, important bluebird habitat reverted to forests. Additionally, two foreign bird species, the house sparrow and the starling, were introduced. These birds competed with the bluebirds for nesting boxes. Pesticides introduced in the 1900s to control insects poisoned bluebirds. All these factors caused a 90% drop in bluebird numbers by 1970.
Fortunately, with the banning of DDT, regulation of harmful pesticides coupled with the establishment of bluebird trails and other nest box projects, bluebird population are recovering. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has given the eastern bluebird a status of least concern after assessing this species.
What two states is the eastern bluebird the state bird? (Post in Comments)