Gray fox and sun
David Brown's Wildlife Services
12 Hotel Road
Warwick, MA 01378
Tel 978 544 8175
"Tracking is seeing. Seeing is done with the mind."

Tracking Problem:  What did this?
Bird of the Month:  Eastern bluebird

Photo D. Brown
The gnawed branch was about
1/2" thick. It was found in a
mixed hardwood/pine forest in
eastern Massachusetts. A
brushy wetland was a few yards

Several mammal species feed
on the cambium layer of bark.
Which did this?

What characteristic of the gnaw
points to this species and
eliminates other likely ones?

What anatomic feature of this
mammal causes this distinctive
Eastern bluebird  Photo D. Brown
Now a familiar sighting in fields bordered
by woods, this beautiful species was in
trouble up to about 30 years ago. Not an
aggressive bird, it was outcompeted by two
species of alien exotics for nesting sights in
old woodpecker holes. Both European
starlings and house sparrows took over
most of the available nest sites, driving off
this native species. In addition, the
bluebird's preferred habitat was rapidly
disappearing as farm fields were swallowed
up by suburban sprawl.

The alarm spread among birdwatchers and
others who were justly fond of this lovely
native. They came to the rescue with
burgeoning nest boxes set up in the
remaining fields. Furthermore the new
emphasis on local agriculture, is
recovering some old overgrown fields.
Organic farming without the application of
pesticides that kill off the meal worms upon
which bluebirds feed is also helping.