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In Idaho, local legend Al Larson has become synonymous with bluebird monitoring and conservation. Al grew up in the remote Owyhee Mountains of southwest Idaho in the 1930s, and developed a love for birds and wildlife while working as a ranch hand. Al dropped out of school after completing the 8th grade and the remote wilderness of the Owyhee’s became his classroom. Al still vividly remembers the first bluebird that he saw while working on a ranch in this remote corner of Idaho. Although he didn’t know the species name at the time, this sighting would stick in his mind for decades to come.
Many years later, Al was inspired to return to the remote mountains of his childhood by a National Geographic story about bluebird conservation. It was here in 1978 that he set up his first bluebird boxes. 35 years later at age 91, Al is still monitoring his bluebird boxes in the Owyhee Mountains. Al monitors every stage of the breeding process from egg laying, to hatching, to 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 in the past 35 years.
As Al begins to think about his legacy, he wonders what will become of his bluebird trail once he is no longer able to care for it. Can he inspire the next generation to have the same dedication and enthusiasm he has carried with him all these years? We hope to answer these questions and more through the telling of Al’s unique life story.