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Free class aims to teach how to build a home for Missouri’s state bird

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Spring is in the air, and so are many of the birds that return to Missouri each season to nest, breed and raise their young, including the eastern bluebird, the state bird.

For those who want to encourage a family of bluebirds to take up residence on their property, a bluebird box building workshop sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation at no cost will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 15 at the Ozark Regional Office, 551 Joe Jones Blvd. in West Plains.

Participants should be at least 12 years old, and class size will be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Registration closes on March 12; sign up online by visiting mdc.mo.gov. and clicking on “Events” at the top of the page. The workshop will be listed on the dropdown link under “Ozark Region.” Tools will be provided and the workshop will be led by MDC Naturalist Wendy Lott. Any questions may be answered by emailing Lott at the address provided or calling MDC Conservation Educator Mary Beth Factor at 256-7161.

“Eastern bluebirds will begin to arrive this month to their breeding locations in our state,” Factor said. “They are cavity nesters, often laying their eggs in a hollowed out cavity in a tree created by other animals, such as a woodpecker. These cavities are typically spotted around open areas such as grasslands, farm lands and backyards in rural areas. Populations have declined in recent years due to habit loss and competition with aggressive nonnative species such as house sparrows or European starlings. Efforts to protect the bluebird population have helped in creating special bluebird nest boxes.”

Installing a backyard bluebird box will provide the ideal home to encourage the birds to raise their young, and the workshop will include information on cavity nesters native to Missouri, Factor added.

Additionally, a workshop will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at Twin Pines Conservation Center off at east U.S. 60 at Winona. Registration is online at the MDC website, and closes Sunday.

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