Bluebirds on Golf Courses

Bluebirds and iibbs go way back.

golf course

Background on the Project

Since 2003, iibbs members have been monitoring reproductive success of eastern bluebirds nesting on golf courses and reference sites in the Williamsburg area. In 2005, the lab spearheaded a series of papers in the Wildlife Society Bulletin on the golf course subject (summarized here). Since then, data collection has continued on baseline reproductive data, along with the addition of graduate student projects looking at pesticide exposure, fledgling survival, and reproductive success at multiple spatial scales. The iibbs team benefitted greatly by the addition of Dr. Kerri Duerr in 2008, who is analyzing the long-term dataset for publication. 

Current findings
  • There is no major reproductive disadvantage to bluebirds who nest on golf courses compared to our reference sites. In fact, in this area of Virginia, they may actually do slightly better on golf courses. (Kerri's research)
  • There appears to be no exposure of nestlings directly to organophosphorous pesticides, which is the kind most commonly found on golf courses. (Ryan's research)
  • Fledgling survival is roughly equal between golf course and reference sites, but there is indication that low forest cover could increase mortality. (Allyson's research)
  • Nest boxes where fledglings were predated by hawks are generally more out in the open than those where fledglings survived (Josh's research)
  • Work is continuing to use GIS to analyze bluebird reproductive success at multiple spatial scales. (Marie's research)