Bluebird and Small Cavity Nester Conservation
Sialis - Bluebirds and other small cavity nesters


Will My Bluebirds Return?

It depends. Some factors include:

  • Survival: Obviously if adults die, they can't return. See Predator Problems and Solutions, and Widows/widowers.
  • Population: Bluebirds need enough food to feed themselves and their families. If there are too many bluebirds in one area, the competition may be too intense, and they may move elsewhere.
  • Past nesting success: A bird that nested successfully is more likely to come back to that nestbox or area. In particular, House Sparrows and House Wrens can interfere with nesting success, and drive bluebirds from an area. Responsible nestbox monitoring and use of predator guards can increase the odds of success.
  • Spreading out: To avoid mating with family members, young often disperse from an area.
  • Nest sites: Nestboxes may attract bluebirds. Leaving nestboxes up year round MIGHT increase the likelihood that they will notice them in the fall (during migration) or roost in them during the winter, and thus stay in the area when breeding season begins.
  • Also see top tips and tricks for attracting nesting bluebirds.


Some studies show that about 11-15% of fledged Eastern Bluebirds come back to the area where they were born (Fiedler 1974, Plissner and Gowaty 1996).

Out of the birds that do return, one study showed that <1% bred in the box where they were born, and <2% bred near the box where they were born.

In some studies, 26% - 44% of adults come back to breed at the site where they nested the previous year. (Fielder 1974, Gowaty and Plissner 1997)

If the first nesting attempt fails, 69% of females may move. If their first attempt succeeds, 39% may still move to another location. (BNA).

References and More Information:

But you, you will know why the bluebird has returned.
- Andre Dion, The Return of the Bluebird (Le Retour de L'Oiseau Bleu), 1981

HOME | Basics | Resources | House Sparrows | House Wrens | Nest/Egg ID | Site Map and Search | Suet Recipes | Tree Swallows | Contact me Bluebird Conservation

May all your blues be birds!

If you experience problems with the website/find broken links/have suggestions/corrections, please contact me!
The purpose of this site is to share information with anyone interested in bluebird conservation.
Feel free to link to it (preferred as I update content regularly), or use text from it for personal or educational purposes, with a link back to or a citation for the author.
No permission is granted for commercial use.
Appearance of automatically generated Google or other ads on this site does not constitute endorsement of any of those services or products!

Photo in header by Wendell Long.
© Original photographs are copyrighted, and may not be used without the express permission of the photographer. Please honor their copyright protection.
See disclaimer, necessitated by today's sadly litigious world.
Last updated March 24, 2016. Design by Chimalis.