Bluebird Man is a half hour documentary film about bluebird conservation and citizen science. The film focuses on the efforts of 91-year-old Alfred Larson, who has been monitoring and maintaining over 300 nestboxes for bluebirds in Idaho for 35 years.
Bluebirds across North America faced precipitous declines during the 1950s, 60s and 70s due in part to increased competition for available nesting cavities. As a secondary cavity nester, bluebirds rely on tree cavities to build their nests and introduced species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows often outcompete bluebirds for these nesting cavities. In 1978 a group of concerned scientists and bluebird lovers established the North American Bluebird Society, a non-profit group committed to conservation of the bluebird. By launching a campaign designed to encourage citizens from all walks of life to put up nestboxes specifically designed for bluebirds, this organization has played an instrumental role in the bluebird’s recovery. Today bluebird populations are at close to historic levels all across North America. Despite this remarkable success, bluebird conservationists must find a way to motivate younger generations to continue the important work of monitoring and maintaining nestboxes for these birds or else this dramatic recovery could be lost.
Al Larson was one of the first citizen scientists to take up the North American Bluebird Society call to action back in 1978. Al was nearing retirement and was inspired to return to the Owyhee Mountains where he spent much of his childhood. It was here, in these remote mountains along the Idaho/Oregon border where Al set up his first nestboxes for bluebirds. 35 years later, at age 91, Al is still monitoring his bluebird boxes in the Owyhee Mountains. He monitors every stage of the breeding process from nest building, to egg laying, hatching, and finally the fledging of the bluebird chicks. When the chicks reach a certain age, Al bands each one with a uniquely numbered federal aluminum leg band. Al has banded over 27,000 bluebirds over the past 35 years.
Bluebird Man chronicles Al’s continued efforts to conserve bluebirds throughout Southern Idaho despite his advancing age. Stunning scenery, intimate conversations and breathtaking footage of all three species of bluebird create a powerful film that reveals the secret behind Al’s longevity while providing inspiration for our next generation of citizen scientists.