Back in 1978, Al Larson was looking for a hobby to keep him busy after he retired and an article in “National Geographic” got his attention. It was about crafting wooden nests for bluebirds to save their population from decline. About the same time, he and his wife spotted a new visitor to their Idaho yard, a Western Bluebird. And after that, he became a nest box builder.
Now Larson has been at it for four decades and at 96, he’s monitoring nearly 350 nest boxes on six different bluebird trails in Southwest Idaho. He and other “community scientists” check on the boxes every nine days to band the birds and take notes. He organizes their research and shares it with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Nestwatch program.
And all Larson’s work has been good for the bluebirds. His bird nest boxes are giving them an edge in survival. Today, populations of Mountain, Eastern, and Western bluebirds are up and they’re now at levels of “least concern.” Boyd Steele, a volunteer who helps Larson with the nest boxes says, “I don’t think there’s anyone as dedicated as Al.”