More bluebirds are on the scene this early spring (the males usually arrive first), and they are top of mind, too, for a dedicated group. The Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota, which is in its fifth decade of supporting the small thrush, has its annual expo Saturday at Cannon Falls (Minn.) High School.

Marlys Shirley, the group’s secretary, said people who maintain and monitor bluebird nest boxes as part of the group’s mission usually step up to help again each year. “Those who try it out and faithfully follow it, get hooked on it,” she added.

The group takes great care, too, in tracking the species’ recovery, Shirley said. In 2018, group members tracked 4,558 bluebird sites. Nearly 87 percent of the laid eggs (12,595) hatched, with 11,969 of the birds fledging. The bluebird population in Minnesota declined substantially from the 1930s to 1960s, owing to insecticide use, habitat loss and competition from other cavity-nesting birds, such as the nonnative starling and house sparrow.

In its 41st year, the bluebird recovery program has about 200 members across Minnesota and from neighboring states. It also has a big weekend: The group’s annual expo features speakers, exhibits and more. Star Tribune Outdoors Weekend section contributor Jim Gilbert is one of the speakers. To register for the expo, go online to the group’s website at bbrp.org/expo-2019. (To include lunch, call Jeanine Mortenson at 1-507-332-7003.)

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