Spring 2024 Volunteer Workshop

When: Saturday, March 2, 2024, from 9:30 am-noon

Where: Tualatin Heritage Center, 8700 SW Sweek Dr, Tualatin, OR 97062

Are you interested in learning more about Western Bluebirds?  Come to our Spring Volunteer Workshop!  We’ll introduce you to the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project and our efforts to help the Western Bluebirds in the Willamette Valley.  You’ll learn about our nest box monitoring program and what’s involved in volunteering to monitor nest boxes.  You’ll be able to meet volunteer monitors, ask questions, and likely hear some bluebird stories from the field.    

We monitor nest box routes in the countryside around the suburbs south of Portland, such as Sherwood, Newberg, Dundee, Scholls, Laurel, Farmington, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Beavercreek, and Canby.  Monitor responsibilities include field work and data collection during the April-August nesting season.

Join us on Saturday, March 2, 2024!!

Spring means nesting season is starting!! 


You may be seeing bluebirds choosing their mates and checking out nest boxes.  Or maybe you’re seeing robins courting or hearing a Northern Flicker drumming on your rain gutter.  You may be tempted to “help” our feathered friends by putting out nesting material for them to use in building their nests.  However well-intentioned, do not offer dryer lint, yarn, strings, or human hair as nesting material for birds.  Why not, you ask? 

Dryer lint dissolves and loses its shape in rain-something we have in abundance here!  The resulting openings in the nest allow heat to escape, and chicks are at risk for hypothermia.  And what about string and yarn? 

Nestlings move around a lot in a nest, re-positioning themselves for being fed and for snuggling for warmth.  A loose strand that is woven into the nest on one end doesn’t require much length to get wrapped around a baby bird’s toothpick-thin leg and can trap the chick to the nest, resulting in injury and even death.  For tips on safe nesting material, check out a free handout from our friends at Backyard Bird Shop .

[“Remedies or Acts of Kindness that Backfire” used by permission from Backyard Bird Shop]

Spring 2023 Volunteer Workshop

Saturday, March 4, 2023             10:00 am-noon

Champoeg State Heritage Area

Are you interested in monitoring bluebird nest boxes?  Come to our Spring Volunteer Workshop to learn how you can become a Nest Box Monitor.  You’ll learn about our organization and meet returning volunteers. 

We monitor nest box routes in the countryside around the suburbs south of Portland, such as Sherwood, Newberg, Dundee, Scholls, Laurel, Farmington, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Beavercreek, and Canby.  Monitor responsibilities include field work and data collection during the April-August nesting season.

Join our nest box monitoring team!

A Surprise Every Time You Open a Nest Box

By Susan Mates

In February of 2011, I was deciding whether I wanted to be a bluebird monitor. I was looking for a citizen scientist project that would get me out-of-doors and allow me to feel that I was doing something to help birds survive better. I expected to have a weekly commitment that would require keen observation, good record keeping, and, secretly, an excuse to wander around in pretty places.

All of those things happened, but what I didn’t expect was that:

 Each time you open a nest box, it is like a treasure hunt. You will never know what to expect. You will catch your breath when there is the first egg in a beautifully designed nest, and laugh when you see a brand new baby chick with its clump of fuzzy down on its head. You might even startle a miffed Douglas tree squirrel that decided to occupy a box. Eight years in, there is a surprise every time.

You will be rewarded by bluebirds fluttering in to greet you at their boxes. You will watch their courtship, take pleasure in witnessing how they feed their hungry brood, and learn the personalities of some of them.

You will learn more than you guessed about the other birds in the area, their songs and their nests, where their favorite places are, and how they pay attention to each other.

You will be humbled by the property owners, who so generously allow us to traipse through their beautiful land, and some of them will become true and dear friends.

You will be struck by spotting close up, a turkey vulture airing its enormous wings, or seeing a line of pigs running pell mell toward a food bucket, or catch the eyes of a mother coyote hunting across a field in the mist.

Our project helps to supply nest boxes that replace habitat lost to human intervention, and we hope the boxes provide a boost for their survival. You will be amazed by the determination and bravery of the parents defending their brood. There are vulnerabilities and dangers for them at each stage, and their struggles and triumphs become more personal for us through this work.

You are, at times, going to be sticky with sweat, drenched with rain, covered by mud, or spend an hour picking weed seeds from your socks. And yes, sometimes you are surely going to encounter death, because you are, after all a witness to the whole cycle of life, and not all of the birds are going to survive.

When you see a line of fledglings sitting on a fence, waiting for a meal, you will feel hopeful that nature can heal, and that maybe you have been a tiny part of that.  And I can guarantee that you will also, each time, find deep joy and awe.

This essay by Susan Mates was published in the PBRP Newsletter, Spring 2020. 

Spring 2022 Virtual Volunteer Workshop via Zoom

When: Saturday, March 5, 2022             10 am – 11:30 am

Peavy bluebird

Are you interested in monitoring bluebird nest boxes?  Attend our Spring Volunteer Workshop to learn about PBRP and what monitoring is all about.   

We monitor nest box routes mainly in Clackamas, Washington, and Yamhill Counties.   Monitor responsibilities include field work, data collection, and reporting during the April-August nesting season.   Click here for more information about monitoring.  

CURRENT OPENINGS:  We have available routes in the Oregon City area, on Parrett Mtn Road, and in Washington County west of Sherwood.

All our volunteer positions are now filled.

Spring 2020 Volunteer Workshop

Spring 2020 Volunteer workshop

When: Saturday, February 29, 2020 from 9:30am-noon

Where: Champoeg State Heritage Area

[PBRP will cover parking fees]

Are you interested in monitoring bluebird nest boxes?  Come to our Spring Volunteer Workshop to learn how you can become a Nest Box Monitor.  You’ll learn about our organization and meet returning volunteers.

We monitor nest box routes in the countryside around the suburbs south of Portland, such as Sherwood, Newberg, Dundee, Scholls, Laurel, Farmington, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Beavercreek, and Canby.  Monitor responsibilities include field work and data collection during the April-August nesting season.

Our 2020 Spring Volunteer Workshop is now full, and registration is closed.  Thank you for your interest in PBRP.

Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project Spring 2018 Workshop was held February 24, 2018

Good Turnout for the annual Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project Spring workshop!

On a typical late winter day—a little rain, plenty of clouds, and a little sunshine, returning and new volunteers gathered at Champoeg State Park Feb. 24 for our 2018 Spring Workshop. Our returning monitors and banders picked up their packets of materials for the coming nesting season. New volunteers received their initial overview of what’s involved in monitoring a bluebird route.

Prescott Bluebird Project Nest Display

The photo shows our display of the different nests made by species that compete with bluebirds for nest boxes, as well as natural nest cavities. The PBRP Board was delighted to welcome so many new volunteers. With new members come fresh ideas and energy, and we’re excited for the 2018 bluebird nesting season! If you missed the workshop and want to get involved, let us know!

You can Help! It’s Fun. Click for more info.

Bluebirds Compete with Swallows for Nest Boxes !

Bluebirds and Swallows will compete for shelter!

It was a cool and misty morning in Dundee when I arrived to band a brood of nestlings in the countryside outside town.

Bluebirds and Swallows compete for nests

At least six Violet-green Swallows were swooping around the box, including going inside. Both bluebird adults were involved in the fray. Swallows were attacking each other, chasing the bluebirds off, and the lone bluebird pair was trying to keep the swallows away and still tend to their nestlings.

Betty and John, PBRP route monitors, arrived shortly to participate in the banding.
We took my transport basket to the box and prepared to move the nestlings safely to my car for banding.

Swoop! When I tapped and partially opened the box to slide my hand up to prevent them from tumbling out, a bird zoomed straight out of the box. It was so fast and unexpected that none of us could observe the bird closely enough to determine the species. I reassured Betty and John that it was not a bluebird nestling,; they were only 11 days from hatch, incompletely feathered and not capable of the strong, rapid, straight out flight we had just seen. The nestlings will spend another 10 days or more in the box being fed by the adults, growing not just feathers but in size until they are as large as their parents. Then and only then will they be coaxed to leave the box. Even with the parent birds’ care, birds that fledge from the box too early have little chance to survive.

Every bluebird monitor’s nightmare is a neighboring property to their route that unwittingly fosters huge populations of swallows. The burgeoning swallow population is hard pressed to find adequate shelter, and resorts to a powerful display of determination to secure a nestbox, even if it is already occupied by a family of bluebirds.

Installation of the new empty box on the left.

Swallow desperation to find a nest site and their interference with the adult bluebirds’ feeding their young could result in starvation of the nestlings. I suggested we put up an additional empty box to give the swallows an opportunity to build their nest and lay their eggs. Neither of us had an extra box in the car.

We put our heads together and determined where on the two Dundee routes there were boxes as yet unoccupied by native birds. Betty and John did all the scouting and found a box on property that had two boxes, one not in use. They moved it to this location and we all crossed fingers and wished the bluebirds well (including the landowner where the required empty box was found and borrowed for the purpose).

While we wait to see how successful this attempt to salvage the bluebird family will be, we volunteers are changing our behavior. Added to each of our vehicles: an extra nest box and a power drill with batteries charged and ready to go!

You can Help! It’s Fun. Click for more info.

Thank you to Nancy Frazer for this post! Nancy emigrated to Portland from Chicago after college, taking a position managing in the Pathology department at what is now Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital. Her love of nature dates back to her childhood, where she experienced the out of doors running wild with her cousins in Indiana. Two years after coming to Portland, she began an ongoing role as a volunteer at the Audubon Society of Portland, at the wildlife rehab center… close up and personal with injured and orphaned native animals. Ten years ago she was recruited to join PBRP and has contributed as a bander, board member, past president, and newsletter editor. She very much enjoys the fellow volunteers and landowners, the bluebirds and the opportunity to teach and coach in a natural volunteer setting. All these are the perks of volunteering with the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project

Unexpected Sightings while watching Bluebirds !

Red-Tailed Hawk Sighting

The 2017 bluebird nesting season has started like the proverbial “lion” even though it’s a bit later than March. For monitors, it means we’ve been slogging through wind, rain, and mud to visit nest boxes on our routes, hoping the weather will soon be warmer and drier—for us as well as the birds!

Red-Tailed Hawk
I’m reminded that each season I am treated to unexpected sightings of birds or animals; I think of these as bonuses that come in addition to watching delightful bluebirds. Recently I was checking a nest box that had an open field next to the fence line. As I returned to my vehicle, I saw a red-tailed hawk overhead, clearly intent on the field. The bird found its prey and, like a missile locked on its target, dove to the ground and then swooped up with wings outstretched and its prey clutched in its talons. It lasted just seconds, about 25 yards from where I stood. Just another meal for the hawk, but amazing luck for me to be there at just the right moment.

You can Help! It’s Fun. Click for more info.

Thank you to Gwen Martin for this post. Gwen is a retired Human Resources professional. Her love of outdoors started in the mountains and back country of Montana, where she spent most of her adult life. She still has a thirst for knowledge of bluebirds and all other birds in our area, and especially enjoys the contact with her property owners who share their knowledge of tress, plants, and vineyards.

It’s Spring – Time to Watch Bluebirds in Portland Oregon!

Can we believe it? Is it finally spring on Chehalem Ridge? The answer is a definite yes. While we’ve been hearing bluebirds and occasionally sighting a few, the definite yes comes because our local Birdman, Greg La Haie, is and has been on his weekly runs, cleaning nests and finding real signs of spring. We’ve lived up here for almost 31 years and love to hear the first blue birds, then see them and then begin to feed them. Over the years I’ve learned to call them to dinner. We’ve lived through good and bad years and the damn swallows, but there is nothing like the first sight of momma and poppa on the railing of the deck.

We’re originally from the Midwest. In Missouri we had bright red birds, Cardinals, yes and a baseball team by that name. We had very bright blue Eastern Bluebirds and they were in such abundance we just got used to them. We moved to Oregon in 1960, lived in the Sylvan area for about 25 years then headed back toward space and country side.

But…….no blue birds or cardinals we thought. Then one day a person visited who saw a bird box we’d taken from a falling down fence near our “barn”. She said it was a bluebird box and she knew who made it, she did! Told us there were bluebirds in Oregon and we, who had never thought about it got excited. Tried the box and learned how to tempt them. OK, they aren’t bright blue, but at least the male’s colorful and not so shy, especially if you are between them and meal worms. Three days ago I saw and heard them in the trees and when I whistled they came to eat. It is spring!

You can Help! It’s Fun. Click for more info.

Thank you to Morgan Pope for this Post. Morgan Pope has lived in western Washington County on rural acreage in a 100+ year old farmhouse. Morgan became aware of the PBRP effort in 1986 when he moved to the Oregon Countryside. He is a retired physicist, and has worked for Portland State University as Vice President. He learned of the Prescott program in 1986 from Kit Whittaker. Both Morgan and Kit are still involved with the recovery project to this day.