The Bird that Carries the Sky on Its Back and the Earth on Its Breast (John Burroughs)

blue bird on perch

by Tim Nabors, Naturalist

Of all the birds that can be found at the Cincinnati Nature Center, my favorite is the Eastern Bluebird and I believe many would agree with me. Something about seeing a bright flash of blue flittering about the fields and forest edges brings a jump of joy to my soul and, dare I say, happiness. At the end of this post, below is a wonderful poem by American Naturalist John Burroughs simply titled Bluebird. It certainly evokes the beauty of the bluebird.

blue bird nest with eggs

At the Cincinnati Nature Center, we monitor more than 100 bluebird nesting boxes from mid-March until the end of August every year. The information we collect from our monitoring is shared with Cornell Lab of Ornithology and The Ohio Bluebird Society. We also keep records at our Center for Conservation.

Our bluebird monitoring team checks each of our boxes weekly for nests, eggs, hatchlings, and hopefully for empty nests once again signifying that the young have left and ventured out into the world.

graphic of results

These are the final results of the 2019 Bluebird box monitoring season at Cincinnati Nature Center. As you can see, not just Bluebirds find homes in these boxes.


blue bird nest

We're excited about the 2020 monitoring season. We're going to put more bluebird boxes up around our properties and new baffles put on the poles to deter predators. We're also moving some of the boxes that were ignored last year to hopefully encourage new families!



by John Burroughs

A wistful note from out the sky,
'Pure, pure, pure,' in plaintive tone,
As if the wand'rer were alone,
And hardly knew to sing or cry.

But now a flash of eager wing,
Flitting, twinkling by the wall,
And pleadings sweet and am'rous call,-
Ah, now I know his heart doth sing!

O bluebird, welcome back again,
Thy azure coat and ruddy vest
Are hues that April loveth best,-
Warm skies above the furrowed plain.
The farm boy hears thy tender voice,
And visions come of crystal days,
With sugar-camps in maple ways,
And scenes that make his heart rejoice.

The lucid smoke drifts on the breeze,
The steaming pans are mantling white,
And thy blue wing's a joyous sight,
Among the brown and leafless trees.

Now loosened currents glance and run,
And buckets shine on sturdy boles,
The forest folk peep from their holes,
And work is play from sun to sun.

The downy beats his sounding limb,
The nuthatch pipes his nasal call,
And Robin perched on tree-top tall
Heavenward lifts his evening hymn.

Now go and bring thy homesick bride,
Persuade her here is just the place
To build a home and found a race
In Downy's cell, my lodge beside.