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Bluebirds in Santa Monica and West L.A.

February 29, 2016
(Ian Kimbrey reports on the bluebird boxes he has been placing locally.)
Female Western Bluebird with dinner (mealworms)

I started the bluebird trail at Penmar in 2009. That first year we had one nest next to the 6th fairway and fledged six chicks. This past year, 2015, we fledged 32 chicks from eight nests at Penmar.


The trail has expanded to include Rancho par-3 course, Heroes Golf Course at the V.A., and Woodlawn Cemetery. Total fledge count for 2015 was 93 bluebird chicks from 25 nests. (323 bluebirds fledged since project began in 2009).


Hoping to fledge 100 this year.

— Ian Kimbrey

  1. March 14, 2016 9:30 am

    Click Here for a link to a nest-box building article on the National Audubon Society web page.


  2. Chukar permalink*
    March 13, 2016 5:29 pm

    People who want to help bluebirds should be emotionally prepared to personally remove, and possibly kill, any starling trying to use the nest box. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t get involved. Starlings are aggressive cavity-nesters and will overpower bluebirds. There are billions of European Starlings in North America, outnumbering bluebirds by 1000-to-1, and we don’t need to make homes for them.

    If they build their own nest box, they have to know that the entrance hole for Western Bluebird should be 1 9/16″, NOT 1 1/2″ as for Eastern Bluebird. I heard years ago from a good authority that the hole is slightly different for Western Bluebird.

    They should also read up (see links below) on nest box location, maintenance, supervision, etc. The local bluebird people (see below) will probably welcome inquires and participation.

    The Wild Wings Stores may carry either the bird box or instructions on how to build them. Public libraries often have such books.

    Two links:
    California Bluebird Recovery Authority (local NABS affiliate)
    Building Nest boxes – general suggestions: says hole should be 1 9/16″ diameter to allow the larger end of the Western Bluebird spectrum.

    Other links:
    North American Bluebird Society:
    Seven types of Bluebird boxes
    Detailed E/W Bluebird nest box plan (note: this says use larger 1 9/16″ hole for Mountain BB, but should use this for Western as well)

    Easiest thing to do might to use instructions given immediately above, but make entrance hold 1 9/16″.
    Chuck A.


  3. March 11, 2016 11:38 pm

    I checked with Ian and he said: Bluebirds are very particular about where they nest. They like LOTS of open grass, which is why they favor golf courses and cemeteries. Unlikely they would nest near a school. Happy to donate another kind of nest box for a more urban cavity nester, like a wren or house finch.


    • March 14, 2016 3:06 pm


      Thank you for all the information you’ve provided in response to my email. We’d love to have either a wren or house finch nesting box for our school garden. We have both birds in our garden as well as a black Phoebe family. I understand that they build their own nests that are pretty spectacular.

      We do have a large grassy area that the students use as a soccer/play field. It’s on the corner of Abbot Kinney and Westminster in the front of the school. Do you think this would be appropriate for a bluebird nesting box or should I just let go of that idea?

      I was playing tennis over at Marine last year when I saw several bluebirds flying around. They are so beautiful. It was the first time I’d seen one despite being an old birder from the east coast.

      Let me know about your generous donation of a nesting box and where I could come to pick it up.



  4. March 9, 2016 5:53 pm

    We’d love to set up a bluebird nesting box in our WE Garden at Westminster School in Venice. Any ideas on how to get started or where to get one?


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