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This Baby Bluebird is about two weeks old and will be fledging any day now.

Featured Article

Meet The Bluebird Guy

Woodside Resident Mike DeBruhl Is On a Mission to Protect Bluebirds

If you ever have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee with Woodside resident Mike DeBruhl,  be prepared to be interrupted. Some of the friendliest people you will ever meet are bound to stop by your table just to say hi or even approach with burning questions about bluebirds and their bluebird boxes. Mike, known around these parts as the Bluebird Guy, is the president of the South Carolina Bluebird Society, sits on the board of the North American Blue Bird Society and is the local expert on all things Bluebirds. 

Mike’s fascination with bluebirds began shortly after he and his wife retired to Aiken. Not long after, Jim Burke, another Woodside resident, and some friends formed the South Carolina Bluebird Society. Mike was invited to a meeting and, as a result, started monitoring about three nest boxes around town. According to him, just like every other monitor that does it, he was hooked once he saw the babies. In 2017, Jim moved to North Carolina and Mike succeeded him as president. 

The mission of the South Carolina Bluebird Society is the protection, monitoring, conservation and propagation of the Eastern Bluebird. Encompassed in that mission is education. The Society gives 30-45 presentations to different groups around the state including civic organizations and garden clubs. Their presentations and workshops at local businesses like Cold Creek Nurseries and Wild Birds Unlimited are known to draw big crowds. They run the “Build a Nest Box” program around the state which teaches kids about bluebird conservation, and each child leaves with a nest box that they helped build.

Another part of the education piece is the two $1,500 scholarships they established with USC-Aiken that go to junior and senior biology students who are interested in wildlife management. This has been a win-win for the organization as the students help with research. The scholarship recipients recently conducted a study for the society that involved the more than 100 bluebird boxes in Hitchcock Woods and their predators. 

Eastern Bluebirds build their nests in natural tree cavities and woodpecker holes. The problem for bluebirds began after World War II as urban areas began to grow and trees were cut down leaving them homeless. As a result, the bluebird population dropped by about 92% between the 1920s to the 1970s.

Enter nest boxes. Conservationists designed wooden nest boxes that mimic natural cavities and provide protection from House Sparrows (the natural enemy of the bluebird) and other predators.

The South Carolina Bluebird Society maintains more than 1,700 nest boxes across the state and has developed 85 trails. There are more than 400 boxes in Woodside Plantation and another 100+ in Hitchcock Woods which are monitored by DeBruhl and a team of volunteers. During bluebird season, which runs February through August, nest boxes are checked weekly for predators and pests including the dreaded House Sparrow, snakes, raccoons, hawks and mites. 

Observing a nest as it is in progress, the appearance of eggs (Mom lays one egg a day for an average brood size of three to five), the arrival of hatchlings and watching them grow are what keep volunteers like Mike engaged and excited to keep up the efforts for bluebird conservation. If you are very lucky, you might be around for “Jump Day” when the babies leave the nest or fledge. 

Opening and checking the nests may seem counterintuitive if you were taught that birds would reject their young if they picked up human scent, but that is an old wives-tale. Birds don’t have a strong sense of smell, and bluebirds are generally very tolerant of human activity. 

For many Aiken residents, bluebird conservation has become a way of life and is something they enjoy sharing with their kids and grandkids. That is certainly true for DeBruhl. He sees bluebirds as a symbol of happiness and hope and doing his part to protect and preserve them gives him a great feeling of purpose and accomplishment. 

Visit for more information about bluebird conservation, nest boxes and the South Carolina Bluebird Society. 

  • This Baby Bluebird is about two weeks old and will be fledging any day now.
  • Glen Hendry and Mike DeBruhl monitoring the bluebird boxes at the Reserve Club.
  • Mama Bluebird Takes Off When Mike DeBruhl checks on the eggs.
  • Bluebird nests usually contain between three and five eggs.
  • Mama and Daddy Bluebird work together to stand guard and feed their babies.

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