California Bluebird Recovery Program (CBRP) 


Several years ago we changed end-of-season data collection from a home-grown database to collaborative “cloud” software; namely, a spreadsheet on Google Drive (Documents) which provided for most of our needs.   For the most part this worked well however such collaborative software does not provide protection from accidental damage or consistency/validity checking and so, some problems arose.   I implemented additional error checking and protection.  The most common problem was that the number of boxes or the number of nest tries by species was not entered.  Please remember to enter these. Google has improved the speed and usability of Google Drive so, hopefully, this will be a better experience this year.

At the same time we made two significant changes in what data is collected: 1) results were collected at the species-level for each trail and not at the box-by-box level and 2) the #eggs, #hatch and #fledged were collected but without  date-related information.  You can learn more  about this software link by linking to the Google Drive site (formerly known as Google Docs).

New trail monitors who want to receive the newsletter by mail should send me their contact information by email or enter the information into the “Name & Mailing Address” field in column EF of the spreadsheet. A “new monitor” is one for whom I do not have contact information; i. e. one who has not previously received the newsletter by mail. It is OK for data to spill over the cell boundaries to the right.

 If you are interested and willing to enter box-by-box data including dates and additional information, I encourage you to use NestWatch, developed over the past years by Cornell University as part of their Citizen Science program; link to: NestWatch. For additional background on these changes see the article I wrote for the NABS spring newsletter: click here:  NABS Article.

End-of-season data reporting works as follows:

I will send each of you email containing a link to the shared, on-line spreadsheet for data collection by June of each year.  Click on the provided link to access the data collection sheet and enter results for each trail you monitor using your web browser.  The information to be entered will include monitor and trail information and for each species, the number of eggs, hatchlings and fledglings.  In addition there will be a field to make notes for your own reference, another to comment on the data collection process and still another for Field Notes to be shared in our newsletter, Blue Birds Fly!. I would appreciate any comments you would like to make about the layout, what data is collected and level of documentation.  Our editor would appreciate any ‘field notes’ that you are willing to share for out newsletter.


Open the email you receive from me and click on the link.  The data collection spreadsheet on Google Drive will open in your browser.


Abbreviated data entry instructions appear in rows 1-9 of the spreadsheet along with column headers, counters/sums and error indicators.  These rows are frozen (and protected against change) so as to be visible as you while entering data.  Note that rows 4 and 5 contains error indicators which display the number of the first row in the spreadsheet which contains data but is missing: 1) number of nest tries (C4), 2) the number of nest boxes on the trail (E4), 3) information from columns A-D (Trail-county, trailname, monitor #1 name or eMail) or 4) inconsistency in the number of eggs, hatchlings or fledglings. Otherwise each error indicator will display “None”. Check these error indicators after you have entered all of the results and just prior to closing the spreadsheet. Please make necessary corrections.

Below rows 1-9 are rows for entering your data. Use the vertical scroll bar to move this section up/down. Only a few rows appear but their number can be increased by clicking on “View” in the menu line near the top of the window and then on “Full Screen”. This will hide many of the spreadsheet controls and almost double the number of visible data lines. To see the spreadsheet controls again, press the Esc key.

The overall size of the window displaying the data collection spreadsheet can be controlled by dragging the boundaries of the window or maximizing the window.

For each trail to be entered, find the first empty row and click on the row number. Use the horizontal and vertical scroll bars to position the display; use the cursor or tab to select fields.  Data is saved to Google Drive as entered so there is no provision to save the spreadsheet – just close (quit). It is not necessary to enter “0” for any field.

Columns A thru H:  Enter the trail monitor(s) and trail information.  Click on the drop-down arrow on the right-hand side of column A to bring up the list of counties. Then enter the first few characters or move the vertical scroll bar and click on the correct county. Data for columns A (Trail-county), B (Trailname), C (Monitor #1 Name) and D (Monitor #1 eMail) must be entered or an error will be indicated (cell C5). Data for columns E & F (Monitor#2 Name and Email) and columns G & H (Monitor#3 Name and eMail) are optional but should be entered if appropriate. It is ok for data to spill into the adjacent cell to the right.

Columns I-K: Enter the number of boxes of each size on the trail (not just the active boxes): small (SmB), standard (StdB) and large (LgB); one or more must be greater than zero.  The error indicator in cell E4 will indicate the row number if the sum of the boxes for that trail is zero; otherwise, “None”.  Column L is the total number of boxes on the trail and is calculated automatically and protected against modification.

Columns M–EB:  Enter the total number of nest tries (TN), eggs (TE), hatchlings (FH) and fledglings (TF) for each species for which you have results.  For WEBLs (Western Bluebirds), enter these data by brood: 1N, 1E, 1H, and 1F are the numbers of nest tries, eggs, hatchlings and fledglings  respectively for brood #1;  etc for broods 2 and 3.   The error indicator in cell C4 will indicate the row number if the sum of the boxes is zero; otherwise, “None”. Note that a nest try is defined to be a completed nest with one or more eggs. If any other species has multiple broods note that in Column EC and/or ED.

Columns EC-EE:  Enter any comments you would like to make.  Field notes may appear in our newsletter.  The text in these fields can exceed the cell width and spill into the adjacent cell to the right.

Column EF: Enter one or more names and mailing addresses for new trail monitors ('new' means that I do not have that information; i. e. that monitor has not received a newsletter in the past – is new to CBRP.)

Columns EG-ER:  These columns are for tracking errors and are protected against entry.

Enter results for each trail you monitor and then close the file (not necessary to save).  You can come back at a latter time to change your data or to see data entered by other trail monitors.

Note about the meaning of ‘trail’: This term is used in the broadest sense.  Usually it relates to those boxes monitored/managed by one or two trail monitors.  The term could indicate one box in a backyard, hundreds of boxes on a ranch, park, golf course or forest, or a subset of these.  I would prefer that each trail is reported separately and not lumped together but that is your choice.  If a trail crosses a county boundary, place it in the county in which the majority of the boxes appear.  Alternately report the boxes which are in each county using a slightly different trailname for each county.

Comment:  Yes, I am aware that we took a step backward in our ability to validate and verify data as well as our ability to enforce consistency of monitor and trail names.  Unfortunately this is the penalty for using free, cloud-based, shared data and software.  Maybe someone can help me figure out a better approach for the future.  I continue to look for a better way to report the annual data. I encourage you to submit your detailed, box-by-box data to Nestwatch for use in their scientific studies.