Welcome back Helen! I am thrilled to say that Helen has returned for another summer of Bluebird madness. This week she has been kept running looking after our bluebird pairs and the trails. We now have two clutches of eggs!! Keep checking for updates, chicks are hopefully soon to hatch!
The first Bluebird nests of the season are begun! Our first released pair has not wasted any time in starting a lovely clutch of eggs. When the second pair was released, the male decided to leave the area but the female has stayed and is mated with the returned male from last year’s translocation. They have begun nest building, preferring a slightly less traditional mixture of grass and moss over the strictly grass nest.
Look waay up! There in the branches of the tallest tree is a pair of bluebirds newly released to the Cowichan Valley. They are a little frightened at the moment, hopefully a night’s sleep will give them time to consider staying a while. Please keep your eyes open for them in the coming days as they decide where to make their home!
The other pair was quicker to get down to the business of choosing a nest box as soon as they were released yesterday, I will do my best to get some photos of them in the coming days. I certainly don’t want to interrupt such important work.
photo credit: Larry White
Feeling very grateful to work in the precious remaining Garry Oak ecosystems of Southern Vancouver Island.
The first pairs of the season have been successfully settled in to their aviaries! Gary braved the Easter weekend traffic and ferry delays to bring two pairs of Western Bluebirds from Joint Base Lewis McChord (a healthy population in Washington) to the Cowichan Valley. In a couple of weeks we will release them and cross our fingers that they choose one of our nest boxes to start a new family. To minimize disturbance, I snuck these photos quickly while feeding them breakfast through the little door made for this purpose. It doesn’t make for the highest quality shots but if you look closely there is a pair in the background in each one.
Running around purchasing supplies to get started on the field season was a great reminder that funders are an important part of what makes this project possible.
I would like to take a moment to thank all those that have contributed financially to this season’s work:
We have a new funder this year! The BC Conservation and Biodiversity Awards Foundation has made a generous contribution to the project. They are a relatively new foundation created to support conservation based initiatives in BC.
Also contributing this year are: Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Sitka Foundation, the Ministry of Transportation, the municipality of North Cowichan, Victoria Natural History Society. The TD Friends of the Environment hasn’t announced their grant recipients yet but have been generous supporters for several years.
I am also grateful to the many individual donors from our community, it all adds up!
Thank you all so very much!
Now…can I fit all this in my car?
So much to share this week, I don’t know where to begin!
I have to start with the news that the Western Bluebird family that we brought from Washington last summer has returned to the Cowichan Valley!
With our Trail Monitor Workshop that took place last Saturday, we can officially say that our field season has begun. It was so heartwarming to see the dedicated volunteers that monitor the project nest boxes in person this year as we stocked up on supplies, went over our goals and welcomed a new monitor to our group.
Then our aviary builders, Larry, James, Rodger and Warren got to work making a safe space for our translocated Western Bluebirds to stay while they adjust to their new home in the Cowichan Valley. No sooner had they completed the first aviary when the family of bluebirds we brought over last year showed up to remind us that this was their territory thank you very much! Larry and crew very generously moved the aviary to a new location on Monday and erected a second aviary on Wednesday.
The week finished with the exciting news that all of the pieces are in place for the first translocation to occur. On April 14 we will bring two pairs of Western Bluebirds across the border.
The folks at Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture have welcomed the Bring Back the Bluebirds Project on their land as part of their aim to take care of ecological health while engaging in sustainable agriculture.
Many thanks to Jen Rashleigh, Keisha (in photo), and Ennie. Together, we mounted 8 new boxes in beautiful oak/meadow habitat.
Excited to share this post by Jeremy Gatten about the first sighting of a Western Bluebird this year!! The Western Bluebird is unbanded so not one of our translocated birds returning but a sign that Western Bluebirds will roam away from their birth territories. This is great to see because this kind of dispersal means that nearby populations can help support each other.
I was curious about the mixed pair of a Western and a Mountain Bluebird so I did a little research. Turns out mixed pairs do occasionally happen and sometimes produce fertile hybrids. It’s much too early to say that these two are more than just travelling companions though.
Post from Jeremy:
Today was marked with quite an extraordinary sighting for Vancouver Island. Seeing one species of bluebird is great, but seeing two species together in the winter… astronomical! I hope you all enjoy a shot of this rare encounter – here’s a female Mountain Bluebird with a juicy morsel on the left and a male Western Bluebird on the right.
Location: Blenkinsop Valley
Date: February 5, 2022
While our bluebirds are off in search of the best winter berries, I hope you are all nestled somewhere warm and cozy with loved ones, enjoying the season. Looking forward to the return of the light and the return of our blue feathered friends that the New Year will bring.
Warm wishes for a Happy Holiday!