The Flatwoods Park Bluebird Trail (brochure) is one of more than 500 trails in North America that has helped the once-threatened bluebird population rebound from its serious decline. Flatwoods Park is a park in Hillsborough County park with a 7-mile paved bike path and many unpaved wilderness trails. Forty or so bluebird boxes are located along the bike path to provide nesting cavities for bluebirds, whose numbers declined after long-term habitat loss, pesticide use, and their natural nesting cavities being taken over by more aggressive and invasive English house sparrows and starlings. Monitored weekly by TAS volunteers since 2005, the trail has been maintained by TAS volunteers and Parks staff for over 30 years. In addition to bluebirds, other native birds like Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice and Carolina wrens also nest in the boxes.
The boxes are relatively easy to make (instructions), install (instructions), and monitor (data sheet sample), but you can also sponsor a box on the trail (see below). NOTE: Boxes should never be constructed of pressure-treated wood because it is toxic to birds. White pine and/or cedar are good choices for boxes. The entrance hole can face in any direction except west toward the hot afternoon sun. When possible, face the hole toward a nearby tree or shrub about 8 feet away so fledglings will have a safe place to fly to avoid predators. If they land on the ground, they are easy prey for cats, snakes, and birds of prey.