Bluebird Appreciation Event – Thanks to all for a great season!!

 

 

We would like to say thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers and supporters for joining us this season, in our endeavour to Bring Back the Bluebirds! Community involvement is a key component to establishing a successful population of Western Bluebirds here in the Cowichan Valley.  As they say, “It takes a village…”, and are we ever lucky. Last Monday, a small ‘village’ of bluebird enthusiasts gathered together to celebrate a good season, beautiful bluebirds and a terrific group of people.

We look forward to seeing you all again next season!!

 

 

 

 

Bring Back the Bluebirds Project Update – August 13, 2018

Hello Bluebirders,

We have now finished providing mealworm supplements to the bluebirds for this year.  Thank you to all of our feeders, who were there for the bluebirds each and every morning, for so many days! The trail monitors are continuing to wrap up their trails, leaving the boxes clean and empty for use again next spring.

Last week we were pleased to show our guests from the VIU Bird Banding Station, 10 bluebirds foraging in a Garry oak meadow at once! What a treat!!

We have some exciting news to share – one of our busiest volunteers, who works hard as both a trail monitor and mealworm feeder each year, also happens to be a wonderful photographer. Just recently, some of Barry Hetschko’s fantastic bluebird photos were selected for display on The North American Bluebird Society’s website. More of Barry’s photos can be found here, and remember to like NABS on Facebook to get updates on bluebird conservation occurring throughout North America.

Please get in touch if you would like an invitation to our end of the season Appreciation Event, August 27th. If you haven’t already, please RSVP by emailing us at cowichanbluebird@gmail.com. Contact us anytime to inquire about making a tax-deductible donation, to help support our Western Bluebirds for next season. And please remember like the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society on Facebook !

SUMMARY 

Adult Birds: 12 (+2 seen in Victoria)

Banded Juveniles: 42

Juveniles from 1st clutches: 24

Juveniles from 2nd clutches: 18

Total Nests this season: 9

Pairs Feeding: 4

 

A Multitude of Mealworms

This year, we were able to feed our Western Bluebirds high-quality mealworms, grown by our own Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ member: Ted Leischner. Ted is a retired agrologist, who has had a life-long career specializing in insect biology, soil science and agricultural systems. Anyone who knows Ted, knows he is a very busy guy, and is heavily involved in pollinator advocacy.

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Through Ted’s relationship with the Keating Heritage Farm, and their tremendous generosity, our mini ‘mealworm farm’ had a safe and spacious place to call home this summer.

Through critical periods of the bluebird’s nesting cycle, we provide supplemental mealworms to encourage adult bluebirds to re-nest and pursue a second clutch in the season. Mealworms also potentially increase juvenile survival, especially in periods of prolonged inclement weather, which create challenging foraging conditions for bluebirds. While our reintroduced bluebird population is still small, we want to do everything possible to maximize bluebird productivity and survival.

This season we’ve seen 9 successful bluebird nests produce a total of 42 fledglings. While we are fortunate to have had ideal bluebird weather throughout much of the season, we are also certainly grateful to have been providing such high quality supplemental food sources to the bluebirds. Thank you Ted for the many hours you put into mealworm maintenance and care. We know they are well looked after. Special thanks to George & Rebecca Papadopoulos of Keating Heritage Farm.

And of course, thanks again to our very dedicated bluebird feeders, many of whom fed every morning for up to 2 months!! A big thank you Barb, Barry, Carol, Gail, Genevieve, Gillian, Hazel, Mari, and Willie!

Bring Back the Bluebirds Project Update – July 27, 2018

Hello Bluebirders,

The last few weeks have been eventful, with all of the 2nd clutch bluebird nestlings having been banded, and many having just fledged. In total, we’ve banded 42 nestlings this year! Although we had fewer returning adult bluebirds and nests this year, the nestling success has certainly been a silver lining, with an increase from 34 juveniles fledged last year. To support these hard-working and highly productive bluebird families, we will continue to provide mealworms until the fledglings are 2 weeks old. Although we don’t have exact numbers, many of the juveniles from the first clutch are still being observed in the area. Interestingly, 2 juveniles from a 1st clutch this year have been spotted in several locations, together with an adult male bluebird who did not have a mate this year!

Last week, several of our trail monitors gathered for a lovely picnic at Eves Park where we socialized and heard updates on each trail, including some great anecdotes from the season! Earlier this week, Hannah gave a talk about the Bluebird Project to volunteers of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, who had been braving the heat to remove invasive plant species from the marsh. Also this week, we paid a visit to the Bluebird Project Display at the Pacific Northwest Raptor’s Centre. We are so appreciative to have this display at the Raptor’s and this season we’ve collected nearly $150 from our donation box there.

In keeping with the thanks – we would like to say, as always, that we could not continue this project without the immense community support and volunteer efforts on this project! Thanks to everyone who has supported our project in some way.

If you need to get in touch with us, please email us at cowichanbluebird@gmail.com. Like the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society on Facebook or check out the gallery on our website to see some cute bluebird photos!

SUMMARY 

Adult Birds: 12 (+2 seen in Victoria)

Banded Juveniles: 43

Juveniles from 1st clutches: 24

Juveniles from 2ndclutches: 19

Total Nests this season: 9

Pairs Feeding: 4

As you may remember from our last update, a female born in the Cowichan Valley has been breeding in the San Juan Islands this season. Here is an brief update from the San Juan Islands Preservation Trust on their bluebirds (as of July 23rd):

SUMMARY

Pairs (including inactive): 13

Breeding Adults: 22? (less depredated Females)

Non-breeding Adults: 8

Banded nestlings: 55

Nestlings in boxes: 21

Eggs: 11

Pairs Laying: 0

Pairs Incubating: 2

Pairs Feeding: 5

Bring Back the Bluebird Project Update – July 11, 2018

I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend & Canada Day. There is more cause for celebration, as four out of five Western bluebird pairs in the Cowichan Valley have re-nested. As of today, all 4 nests have hatched, producing at least 16 additional nestlings to the population. In addition to observations in the field, the use of remote wildlife cameras at the mealworm feeding trays, has allowed us to confirm that most fledglings from the first clutches of the season are healthy and present.

Surveys to look out for additional bluebirds are ongoing, as well as nest checks, and nest box maintenance. The trail monitors are still out looking for bluebirds and collecting nesting data on the variety of species using our nest boxes. As field work is slowing down, Genevieve & I have been transitioning into the grant writing & long-range planning phase of the season.

In other exciting news, Julia Daly, our project liason in Victoria, has recently been investigating a male western bluebird sighting. Although we’re unsure of this male’s origins at the moment, it is banded, meaning it came from either the Cowichan Valley or San Juan Island. This is the second bluebird seen in the Victoria area this season, and Julia has plans to put up more nest boxes there this summer. Additionally, a 2017 juvenile female from the Cowichan Valley has been found nesting on San Juan Island with a local San Juan Island male, demonstrating yet again the connectivity of the population between these regions. Click here to learn more about the San Juan Preservation Trust’s Western Bluebird Reintroduction Project.

Please check the CVNS Facebook page for on-going updates on the project, and if you have any potential bluebird sightings to report, please contact us by mailing cowichanbluebird@gmail.com or by calling Hannah’s cell phone at 250-740-5076.

SUMMARY 

Adult Birds: 12 (+2 in Victoria)

Juveniles: 23

Nestlings: 16

Active Nesting Territories: 4

Total nests for the season to date: 9

CVNS Bring Back the Bluebird Project Update – July 27, 2017

Second clutches are coming along as I type this brief – we have banded 2 nests since the last brief with those nests expected to fledge within the next week and a half. At another site, the eggs hatched on Monday and the parents are diligently foraging for food in the surrounding fields as thrilled landowners watch over them. One is even reporting having bluebirds checking themselves out in a mirror on their deck. Early next week a 4th second clutch will be banded.

Interestingly the nest we banded on Wednesday contained 4 females and a male, and their previous nest was all females. Nests with a single sex are very rare, and we will take all the females we can get! The feeding station at that site has been moved for the third and hopefully final time, as the landowner’s horses somehow manage to knock it down.

The San Juan Island female has yet to lay an egg here in Cowichan but we check back every couple days with our fingers firmly crossed. They have a nest built and continue to defend the nestbox vehemently.

Under the guidance of Genevieve and myself our invaluable volunteers continue to monitor the network of nestboxes taking note of their findings and letting us know of anything exciting. It appears as though swallow and chickadee numbers are up this year; always an encouraging sign.

Our mealworm project continues to hum along producing all we need for the landowners to provide their nests’ supplemental feedings.

SUMMARY
Adult Birds: 18+
(We have had multiple reported sightings at various locations – this number is quite likely higher.)
Nestlings: 18
Juveniles: 20
Active Nests: 4

CVNS Bring Back the Bluebird Project Weekly Brief – July 20, 2017

It gets said every week, but this week really was a busy one!

We have had 3 exciting events happen this week, along with the usual surveys, feedings, box checks, etc. In order of occurrence:

1) While we were conducting routine surveys at a former bluebird territory Jessica and I found a male who had previously gone AWOL from his nest after it failed following the predation of the female with 3 other birds – two are juveniles (not his) from earlier in the season, and we believe the 4th bird to be an adult female. They have been less than cooperative in letting us track them down so hopefully there will be more on these birds next week!

2) A pair who fledged their first brood earlier in the month has evaded us, until today. We had been assuming that they were just waiting to start re-nesting at the same site as the landowners had been seeing them around regularly, but we found today as we broadened our search for their second nest that they actually wasted no time getting going on their 2nd clutch and have built a full nest and laid eggs at a neighbouring property. The female wouldn’t let me get a good look at her eggs today, but I saw at least 3 and we’ll get a final count tomorrow when we predator guard their new box.

3) This is, in my opinion, the most exciting piece of news. Jessica and I were returning to a former nesting site from earlier in the year where the female went missing to take down the predator guarding and remove the feeding station. The male has been hanging around the site since the female went missing with one of his first clutch juveniles. When we got to the site, Jessica spotted both a male and a female at the site near the former bluebird box. After a mad scramble to get the scope set up, we were able to determine that it was the same male from the site with a female from San Juan Island. Their nest is nearly complete and they were very active around the box.

Interestingly, this San Juan female has spent the last two years with a different male on Lopez Island, just East of San Juan. That pairing has built multiple nests over the two years but didn’t ever lay an egg. Hopefully that record will change this week coming week!

Our other active nests are doing well, with one scheduled to be banded tomorrow, another having hatched yesterday, and the third actively feeding the nestlings.

SUMMARY
Adult Birds: 18+
(We have had multiple reported sightings at various locations – this number is quite likely higher.)
Nestlings: 15
Juveniles: 20
Eggs: 3+
Active Nests: 4