GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — In October 2018 a small group of River Landing residents who were maintaining a small bluebird trail on the residential community’s Colfax campus decided to start a bird club. Although all were bird enthusiasts, none could be called bird experts.

The club members accompany the trail leaders along one of the four bluebird trails to help with checking the bird boxes and updating each data log. They’re tracking the nesting activity of bluebirds.

They’re not the only ones.

The North Carolina Bluebird Society also keeps an eye on the bird’s population.

There are three types of bluebird: eastern, mountain, and western. During the most recent decade, the eastern species, which is found in North Carolina, has significantly increased with the help of the birdhouses such groups have placed and monitored, according to the National Audubon Society.

“In the late 70s, after being threatened it caused a decline in the bluebird population after human activities began to kill the insects and made food scarce for the birds,” said Donna Allred, who is Guilford County’s representative for the N.C. Bluebird Society, which was started in 1986.

“Seeing the species increase and survive is the biggest reason why the club likes to track birds,” she said.

In Guilford County, members and volunteers meet up in Lake Daniel Park in Greensboro. Planning starts in February for the upcoming nesting season. Bluebirds can nest up to three times, with the first cycle typically in April-May, another in June-July and a final cycle in August, according to the N.C. Bluebird Society.

People who are interested in helping maintain a bag of supplies for the nesting birds. Small mirrors are used to observe the nests so the birds aren’t disturbed. During nesting season, volunteers go out once a week and fill out sheets to document new eggs and new birds. They count the birds and keep a record of the activities. There are currently 14 active bluebird houses in the community.

Although the majority of eastern bluebirds are found in the eastern part of the United States, the total range extends south to Nicaragua.

The birds prefer to live in open country areas with scattered trees, farms, and roadsides. They mostly feed on insects and berries. The nest cavity (built mostly by the female) is a loosely constructed cup of weeds, twigs, and dry grass, lined with finer grass, sometimes with animal hair or feathers, according to the Audubon Society.

At River Landing, bird club members use golf carts to make it easier to get around to the 65 nesting boxes they’ve placed on the nine-hole golf course. Organizer John Scroggins said the club has more than 125 members.

He said they started the club because there was so much enthusiasm for one from residents.

All data collected from the nest boxes is reported once a week to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which uses the information in its research and conservation efforts.

Although the eastern bluebird is the target, many other species periodically use the boxes. Volunteers have seen the tufted titmouse, the Carolina chickadee, the tree swallow, the Carolina wren, the brown-headed nuthatch, and the white-breasted nuthatch. Data on these species is also submitted to the lab.

To find out more about creating a bluebird nest, visit the N.C. Bluebird Society website at www.ncbluebird.org.