Brown-headed Nuthatch and Eastern Bluebird

In 1997, a reintroduction program was initiated to develop and implement translocation techniques aimed at restoring viable populations of Brown-headed Nuthatches and Eastern Bluebirds to Everglades National Park. The reintroduction was considered a test of the progress made in ecosystem restoration resulting from recovery from logging and the introduction of a natural fire regime implemented through prescribed burning.

Brown-headed Nuthatch and Eastern BluebirdBirds were captured from a large source population in Big Cypress National Preserve. Most birds were translocated as pairs and placed in either small or large aviaries. For some bluebird translocations we moved the breeding pair and their nestlings. Multiple perch sites, food (mealworms/crickets) and water, and a nestbox for roosting/nesting were provided in all aviaries. Nuthatches were held for 1-10 days, while bluebirds were usually held for 1-3 weeks.

Key Findings

  • Approximately 60 percent of translocated adults of each species became established on breeding territories.
  • In each year of translocations, pairs successfully produced young and population size increased. In 2001, 13 nuthatch and 16 bluebird breeding territories were established and translocations were discontinued.
  • Post-translocation demographic monitoring over the following eight years showed variable results. The Brown-headed Nuthatch population grew as expected and population growth rates were positive indicating reintroduction success.
  • The Eastern Bluebirds population, however, did not increase in size and appears vulnerable to extirpation due to a variety of factors, including cavity availability and road mortality.
  • We recommended additional studies on the Eastern Bluebird population to illuminate limiting factors and better understand the role of fire in creating habitat, especially snags, for bluebirds.


  • Slater,G. L., Lloyd, J. D., and S. Snow. 2013. Re-introduction of brown-headed nuthatch & eastern bluebird to South Florida pine rocklands, USA. In Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2013, Further case studies from around the globe (Editor, Pritpal S. Soorae). IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group. {PDF}
  • Lloyd, J. D., G. L. Slater, and S. Snow. 2009. Demography of reintroduced Eastern Bluebirds and Brown-headed Nuthatches. Journal of Wildlife Management 73:955-964. {PDF}
  • Lloyd, J. D., and G. L. Slater. 2007. Environmental factors affecting productivity of brown-headed nuthatches. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:1968-1975. {PDF}
  • Cox, J. and G. L. Slater. 2007. Cooperative breeding in the brown-headed nuthatch. Wilson Bulletin 119:1-8. {PDF}
Brown-headed Nuthatch and Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird feeding at nest


  • Slater, G. L. 2010. Avian restoration in Everglades National Park: Eastern bluebird and wild turkey monitoring (2008-2009). Final report to Everglades National Park.{PDF}
  • Slater, G. L., and J. D. Lloyd. 2010. Avian restoration in Everglades National Park: avian monitoring, effects of fire, hydrology, and vegetation, and long-term recommendations for management of the pine rockland bird community (2005-2007). Final report to Everglades National Park. {PDF}
  • Slater, G. L. 2004. Avian restoration in Everglades National Park: an evaluation of the Brown-headed Nuthatch and Eastern Bluebird reintroduction program