The bluebird trail is located on part the Blue Ridge Trail in the eastern end of the park. Hikers can begin the trail by entering the walkway across from the memorial marker. The trail consists of 18 boxes. The terrain is gently rolling hills with restored prairie and oak savannah. The Eastern Bluebird occupies many of the boxes during the nesting season, along with Chickadees, Wrens and Tree Swallows. The House Sparrow is discouraged from nesting in the boxes because of its tendency to kill the parent bird on the nest and the young. The trail is monitored each week by our members.
We compile the reports for all of the bluebird trails in Lafayette County.
At the end of the nesting season, a report is sent to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin so the findings are included in the state's final report of fledged bluebirds.
The 28th Annual BRAW Convention was held in Darlington. It was a great success! Pictured here are members who took in the pre-conference activity of visiting the Interpretive Nest Box Display at Yellowstone Lake State Park. Park Supervistor John Arthur, and Camp Host Ray, transported us to the location down Blue Ridge Trail.
Sue Cashman's Nest Box Country Roads Trail begins in Sue Cashman's yard on the edge of Darlington and travels along country roads to Apple River, IL.
Sue enjoys monitoring her trail and her weekly reports are included in the LCBS e-newsletter. Pictured here is a nest of young bluebirds taken along her trail. Sue Cashman's Nest Box
Sue has added raccoon guards to her boxes. One was made from 3" PVC pipe. The pipe was placed over the rebar before the conduit was in place. The opening at the top of the PVC was covered with white duct tape. The last step is to spray the pipe with heavy silicone spray to make it too slippery for predators to climb.
Jim (Hatch) Barth manages and maintains the Fever River Trail. Located in the New Diggings/Leadmine area in southwestern Wisconsin. The trail meanders over beautiful country along the Fever River. Much of the land is used by local farmers for cattle grazing and is ideal habitat for the Eastern Bluebird. The 70+ boxes are a mixture of PVC and wooden styles. Jim is adament about keeping House Sparrows from nesting in the boxes on his trail. When Jim monitors the trail, he is accompanied by another birder. Jim drives to and checks each box while the partner records the data. For many years Jim's trail partner was Helen Kilcoyne a business owner in Leadmine and an avid bluebirder.
The Hess Trail is located in rural Blanchardville. Jim and Marci monitor the 26 nest boxes on the trail once a week during the nesting season, and report the results to us.
The bluebird production on their trail has steadily increased over the past few years. In 2010, they reported a total of 42 bluebirds fledged, in 2011 they had 86 bluebirds and in 2012 they fledged 114 and the numbers have been growing ever since! The Tree Swallow in 2010 numbered 31 fledged and in 2011 and 2012 they reported 18. The wrens increased from 9 in 2010 to 17 in 2011, and dropped to down 8 in 2012.
Jim and Marci are actively involved with restoring the acreage on their property to prairie. The prairie environment is very good habitat for bluebirds since it abounds with a variety of insects that fit into the bluebird's diet. To learn more about their efforts visit: Driftless Prairies
Recently, Jim installed a kestrel box on the prairie along the trail. The kestrels have taken up residency and are raising young in the box. Jim is wondering if this will effect the bluebirds on the trail.
The Hill Trail is located north east of Darlington. The 80 acre property belongs to Christine and Howie Hill. They are working to restore the land to prairie and oak savannah. The rolling land includes streams that flow through it and two shallow ponds. The bluebird trail consists of 17 nest boxes, many of them are Simple boxes.
Our annual trail hike took place on the Hill Trail. Everyone observed a variety of prairie plants, butterflies, and bluebirds.
The Rufous-sided Towhee entertained us with its beautiful song as we hiked the trail.
The nest boxes are located in the open areas along the trail. Most are facing southeast. Wrens occupy a few of the boxes and the House Sparrow tries to nest also. There is no evidence of raccoon or snake predation on the trail.
Velma Klenke manages the multi box trail that is located on the edge of Darlington along the Pecatonica River Walking Trail and in two cemeteries on the outskirts of the town. The boxes in the Union Grove cemetery have been known to have 100% bluebird occupancy. Velma is accompanied by her daughter, Doreene Crapp, when she monitors the trail. They look forward to the mother and daughter event each week during the summer.
Carol and John McDaniel started this trail in 2017. They placed four Simple boxes in the spring and within a month there were bluebirds nesting in two boxes and Black-capped Chickadees occupied another. John and Carol have been bluebirding since 1978 when they first heard that the Eastern Bluebird's numbers were dangerously low. They founded the Lafayette County Bluebird Society in 1981. Since then, they have educated countless people on the importance of restoring the bluebird back to Lafayette County. Their trail is located in the beautiful rolling hills of rural Gratiot, Wisconsin. The McDaniel's are establishing pollinator habitat along the trail for the Monarch butterflies. They are adding more boxes to this trail.