Roanoke Valley Bird Club

RVBC Bluebird Trail


It's hard to imagine that the Eastern Bluebird nearly went extinct in the early 1900s through to the 1970s. This was because of a deadly combination of the following:

  1. Management practices (clean farming) that removed the dead tree snags that bluebirds depend upon for nesting.
  2. The introduction of exotic species (house sparrow and European starling) that compete for nesting cavities.
  3. The detrimental effects of pesticides.
  4. The population of domesticated cats magnified (we have cat guards now for the box set-ups).
  5. The severe winters of 1958-1960 and 1977-1978 that eliminated approximately 50-60% of bluebirds.

In the mid-1960s, as reported in the Roanoke Times on March 16, 1969, the RVBC established the 33-box Blue Ridge Parkway Bluebird Trail to support the recovery of Eastern bluebirds. This 20-mile trail is perhaps the oldest documented trail in Virginia and one of the longest. Our club also sponsors the 21-box Hanging Rock Golf Club Bluebird Trail in Salem, Virginia.

While bluebirds have now successfully recovered off the endangered list, club members are offered the opportunity to monitor the nest boxes to determine the breeding success of our area bluebirds and the other box nesters (Carolina chickadees, tree swallows, and house wrens), with the statistics reported annually to the Virginia Bluebird Society. Members volunteer in February and March with training sessions offered to learn monitoring protocol. The trails are checked weekly April through August, which takes several hours during each outing. There is no cost and it is great fun! You will briefly look into the boxes and record what you see as they develop from nest building to eggs and young.

The Roanoke Valley Bird Club offers bluebird nest boxes, poles and predator guards for sale, built to specifications as recommended by the Virginia Bluebird Society. Funds from these sales, along with our Adopt-a-Bluebird program, support the maintenance of our historical bluebird trails. For more information or to make purchasing arrangements please contact:

Carol Whiteside
RVBC Bluebird Trails Chairman







©Roanoke Valley Bird Club