BLUEBIRDS UP CLOSE; The National Audubon Society; by Nature Science Network, Inc. (1989)

Bluebirds Up Close covers the 3 U.S. species (with the overwhelming majority of space limited to Eastern Bluebirds), is 50 minutes long, and is narrated by Michael Godfrey. The video is inconsistent and includes good to mediocre footage, but also includes some interesting information (as well as some questionable ideas).

Bluebirds claims to cover all three United States species of bluebirds, but the Western and Mountain Bluebirds are barely mentioned or shown, and then not always identified. (Could this be because Nature Science Network is located in North Carolina?) Also, the video quality (as is all too common in this series) is inconsistent with much of the footage out of focus and many of the flight shots poorly executed.

Nonetheless, some good information is contained in this tape including nest box design, placement, and predator guard considerations, the historical importance of orchards to Eastern Bluebirds, how utility wires are used by bluebirds, the viability of bluebird feeders and what to put in them, habitat selection, and the significance of not starting to incubate until a full clutch has been laid.

The use of Eastern Bluebird song in the background is a nice touch, but its effectiveness as a teaching tool is compromised by the inclusion of Cedar Waxwing and American Goldfinch vocalizations without identifying the source species.

There is also an interesting discussion on why the European Starling is less of a threat to bluebirds than is the House Sparrow. However, I question the statement that House Sparrows actually kill adult bluebirds, as opposed to displacing them from their nests.

On a scale of 0 (truly worthless) to 10 (the outer limit of human ability), I rate

Bluebirds Up Close a 5½. It has decent video, is modestly instructive and not excessively priced at $29.95 (especially given that NJAS/CMBO members can get it at a discount).

Mike Hannisian