With work, blue feathers flutter again on San Juans, Washington

It was a chilly but sunny "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" kind of morning on the Tenalquot Prairie adjacent to Fort Lewis. But Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird weren't landing on anyone's shoulders.

Instead, biologists Gary Slater and Bob Altman set up nearly invisible "mist nets: of lightweight nylon near a cedar nest box.

Two Eastern bluebirds watched from halfway up a nearby tree. Hunkered down behind another tree, Slater turned on a recording of various Western bluebird calls and waited.

The trap was set.

"It's their territory," explained Altman, who’s with the American Bird Conservancy in Corvallis, Ore. "They get upset with (the sound of) other bluebirds."

Within minutes the male bluebird flew over to investigate and quickly became entangled in the soft net.

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