This is the story of an amazing man who lives in Daggett Creek, Idaho. At the age of 94, he is a self-taught conservationist. Al Larson has dedicated the last 35 years of his life to recovering the North American bluebird. This passion and commitment might just be the very reason why he is still energetic at his age.
In the 1800s European starlings and house sparrows were introduced to North America. It didn’t take them long to spread across the entire continent. As expected, this brought on an intense competition for nesting cavities. Unfortunately, the bluebird lost that battle.
Al and his wife took it upon their shoulders to help these amazing creatures and so they set up hundreds of nest boxes along the road. He started in his sixties when most people are retiring and just wasting away in a rocking chair. He always knew that was not an option for him because all it leads to is muscular and mental deterioration and early death.
Before retiring, Al Larson had been involved with the Audubon Society. So it comes as no surprise that once he read about the plight bluebirds were facing, he decided that there was something he could do. His idea was to put up a few boxes to help out. He actually builds each box by himself in his shop. By the time he was 91, Al Larson had raised over 27,000 bluebirds. And just like that he became known as ‘the bluebird man’—a citizen scientist and bluebird expert.
There are three species of North American bluebirds and each has distinct features. They are known as secondary cavity nesters. This means they don’t drill holes in trees but will use the holes that were drilled by other critters. If there is enough food available, then it’s a good idea to set up artificial nest boxes because the competition for cavity nests will be fierce.
At the moment, Al Larson is monitoring about 300 nest boxes. They are set up along bluebird trails that span across five Idaho counties. Each summer he travels over 5000 miles monitoring his trails. The bluebirds responded very well to the nesting boxes and their population in the region increased over the last few years.
One of the biggest concerns is how to engage the next generation to take care of the bluebirds. Find out more now.