From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

Pennsylvania Bluebird Basics

Pennsylvania Bluebirds

Why did the bluebird population decrease?

The introduction of non-native species such as English sparrows and European starlings has influenced bluebird populations in Pennsylvania. The European transplants began to dominate the nesting cavities bluebirds preferred. DDT and other harmful pesticides hampered reproduction until they were banned nationally in ’70s. And Pennsylvania’s open spaces (preferred bluebird habitat) slowly, but steadily, were reclaimed by trees, or worse, buildings. The bluebird’s perfect world was slipping away.

How can I help bluebirds?

You can help provide a home for bluebirds by placing nest boxes in your backyard and creating bluebird nest box trails. Nest boxes provide additional cavities bluebirds. You can find plans for building blue bird boxes as well as pre-made bluebird boxes on the Game Commission website http://www.pgc.state.pa.us

Where should I place a bluebird box?

A box is best placed on a post – not a tree trunk – four to six feet off the ground in direct sunlight. Preferred locations are open backyards, meadows, near fencerows or agricultural fields, and around cemeteries or athletic fields. Boxes placed too close to houses and other buildings, waterways and wetlands, or forested and brushy areas will attract nesting competitors and predators.

Nest box competitors

Of course, it should be pointed out that a bluebird nest box used by any species other than a house sparrow – starlings can’t access the entrance of a properly-constructed bluebird nest box – is still a box that’s serving wildlife and helping to fill a habitat deficiency. If helping bluebirds is your objective, then place or relocate your nest box to an area where there will be limited nesting competition and predator problems, and where bluebirds are more apt to find it. If you’re reusing a box, remove old nesting materials from inside before hanging it. Otherwise, recognize its worth to other wildlife and place it where it’ll do some good.

-Excerpts from “Bluebird Basics” by Joe Kosack

Joe Kosack’s full article on Bluebird Basics is available on the Game Commission website.

Photo by Joy Mellott

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Game Recipes

Cook BookSMALL

Back by popular demand: The Pennsylvania Game Commission is compiling information for a new Pennsylvania Game Cookbook. The last one was published in 1979.

Send us your favorite Pennsylvania big game, small game and migratory game bird recipes.
Please include:
• Recipe title
• Ingredients and measurements
• Preparation instructions
• Number of servings
• Name or initials
• Hometown
• Photo of the meal (optional)

Do you use a trusty recipe from the Pennsylvania Game Cookbook that was published in 1979? Send us the title and we may include it in a “Tried, True and Tasty” section.

Please note that not all recipes will be included in the book. Recipes will not be returned and may be edited. Senders freely offer the recipe to the Game Commission for this use.

Email recipes to pgccomments@pa.gov or mail to
The Pennsylvania Game Commission
2001 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797

Deadline for submissions is June 30, 2014.

Successful Turkey Hunting

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Successful Turkey Hunting

We would like to congratulate Sara Hay, Game Commission clerk typist in the Southwest Region Office, on harvesting her first turkey!

Did you know that the Game Commission offers a course on successful turkey hunting skills?

The Successful Turkey Hunting course has two has two components – (1) independent study and (2) classroom/skills training. Students study online or may request a student manual to review before attending class. The independent-study component typically takes four to six hours to complete. When finished with the independent study, students must attend a 1-day, 8-hour classroom session that includes:

Turkey hunting laws and regulations
Safe turkey hunting
Map and compass skills
Safe and effective shot selection
Turkey calls and calling
Turkey hunting methods
Distance estimation
Shotgun pattern testing

Find a course

*This course does not replace the Basic Hunter-Trapper Education (HTE) training. All first-time hunters must successfully complete Basic Hunter-Trapper Education before purchasing a general hunting license.


What Types of Outdoor Recreation are Most Important?

Pennsylvania’s hunters, trappers, sport shooters and wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity to make their opinions known. An online survey, the results of which will be considered as part of an update to the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, remains open and can be completed in minutes.

The online survey is one of three surveys that will be considered as part of Pennsylvania’s  outdoor recreation plan update. A scientific survey was conducted earlier this year, and a survey of recreation providers also is being developed. The online survey is completely confidential and can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/paoutdoorrec. The survey remains open until May 16.          

After feedback from all three surveys is analyzed, a draft plan will be written in late summer and will be available for review and comment on the plan’s website. Feedback sessions will allow citizens, providers and interested stakeholders to give their input before a final document is presented to the National Park Service later this year. Learn more at www.paoutdoorrecplan.com.