Take-A-Kid Along Guidelines

created in category Take-A-Kid Along (TAK-Along)





The goal of this project is to plant a seed of love for bluebirds and all of nature in the minds of our children, nurture it and watch it come to fruition as the children become adults.  In the words of Dr. Lawrence Zeleny, founder of the North America Bluebird Society, “Bluebirds are well on their way to complete dependence on our help if they are going to survive.  With enough effort from us, they can make it.  It’s entirely up to us whether America’s favorite bird will live or become only a memory like the passenger pigeon.”   It is also up to us to inspire and train the next generation to take up the crusade of helping this beautiful species of birds.  Thank you for becoming involved in this project.


The following are guidelines that should be used to help make the project a success.


Since children of all ages will be participating in this project, it is up to each individual participant to decide what your child will be able to comprehend.  Listed here are some things you should discuss with your child at the level they will understand.  While you are walking your trail, it should be easy to bring up these topics, however, do not try to discuss everything in one outing.

  • Reasons for decline in bluebird population

                        Loss of habitat

                        Introduction of non-native house sparrows and European starlings


  • Habitat needed for nesting bluebirds

Open, grassy (preferably short grass) areas with a few scattered trees where pesticides are not used

Away from brushy, treed areas (house wren territory)

Away from barns and buildings, especially buildings where grain is stored (house sparrow territory)


  • Importance of monitoring nest boxes

Protecting the birds from predators, pests, and competitors

Making sure everything goes as it should during the nesting season

The self-satisfaction of helping a species survive


  • Importance of keeping records

Know what to expect on next visit

Know when eggs were laid, when they hatched, and when to stop opening box

Know when a box is unproductive and should be moved

Know when a box is having a continual problem that cannot be solved and should be moved



You should also teach your child how to physically monitor a nest box.  If your child is very young, he/she may not be able to do all of these things.

  • Talk in a normal voice while approaching the box to alert an adult bird of your presence.
  • Gently tap on the side of the nest box as a further warning.
  • Slowly open the box and check the activity in the box.
  • Record your findings.

Is there a start of a nest or a complete nest?

What species is building the nest?

# of eggs laid

# of eggs hatched

# of nestlings

Do not touch eggs or nestlings unless necessary to take care of a problem.

  • Take care of any problems such as:

Adding a predator guard

Removing ants, wasps, or mice nests

Removing house sparrow nests or house wren sticks (completed house wren nests are protected by law)

Pairing nest boxes if tree swallows are starting to nest

Repair the box if damaged

  • Securely close the box.
  • Record any problems and/or actions taken.


While monitoring the trail, don’t limit yourself to just bluebirds.  Point out to the child the different things in nature that are all around them.  Most children love bugs, birds, animals, frogs and fish.  They are curious about buds, flowers, leaves, berries, and nuts.  Take the opportunity to help them develop a love for all things in nature.


One of the most important things to remember is to have fun with your child.  Make it an experience they will be anxious to repeat.