News

June 15 Update

The parents of the clutch that was killed are bravely trying again! They have laid six eggs which are due to hatch around June 21. As we anxiously hope that they are more successful this time, it does bring the issue of invasive House Sparrows to the forefront.

We are exploring ways to prevent these birds from endangering the recovery effort. One issue that has come up is the prevalence of boxes that are attractive to House Sparrows but not monitored to keep them out. Many people with the admirable goal of supporting wild birds end up inadvertently creating higher numbers of House Sparrows which go on to attack native bird species. One approach we are looking into is providing a way to limit boxes to smaller species by reducing the hole size on boxes that are not intended for bluebirds or in areas that are too over-run by House Sparrows to be safe for bluebirds to nest. One of our volunteers, Ted Leischner, has created special plates to add to existing boxes for this purpose. Please let us know if you know some good candidates to receive these plates or if you have more ideas on how to tackle this challenge!

June 9 Update

Have you ever wondered how they get those tiny colour bands on those tiny little bird legs? This Sunday was banding day for one of our clutches and my first time seeing this.Bluebird, Quamichan 095

Photo credit Adam Taylor

If you look in the bander’s right hand you can see the little blue band being stretched apart on a “spoon” with a groove for the tiny leg. The open band will then be applied to the leg and the band slipped off of the spoon and onto the leg. The colours and their order are carefully tracked so that no other Western Bluebird will have the same combination. That way, when helpful birders take photos of Western Bluebirds in years to come, we can look up the combo and find out who they are and where they came from.

With that explained, I would like to introduce you to 2020’s  first nestlings (Photos by Brielle Reidlinger):

1. Light Blue/Black – Bruiser
2. Light Blue/Purple – Bubble Gum
3. Light Blue/White – Sky
4. Yellow/Purple – LeBron

 

 

June 2 update

This past week has been bittersweet. The lovely clutch of nestlings that we discovered in the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve were found dead at the beginning of last week. We think they have been killed by a House Sparrow. To soften this sad news, the other nest has hatched four babies. They are nearly ready to be banded with their own individualized colour combination. See below for a progression of their growth so far.

We had an online gathering of our Trail Monitors, it was so nice to see everyone again. I am looking forward to the day we can gather in person, outdoors and with snacks! Stories of the different native species spotted in boxes were shared including Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Violet-Green Swallows, Tree-Swallows, Bewick’s Wrens, House Wrens and even tree nesting bumblebees!

May 22 Update

 

With both bluebirds and birders in busy mode, the project is in full swing now. Our volunteers and staff have been checking boxes and repairing or replacing fallen or broken ones. Thank you to all our trail monitors and nestbox hosts for keeping us updated on what’s happening on your trails! Our Bluebird pairs have built their first nests of the season and both have clutches of 6 eggs that are nearly ready to hatch. There are also a few mysteries afoot, a male that is hanging around but not sharing with us his relationship status as well as a pair of Western Bluebirds spotted in Victoria. The other mystery is the due to hatch date of one of our pairs. They used the closure of parks to gain themselves some privacy and laid their eggs before we were able to check them. Please continue to share your sitings with me!

With the border still closed it is looking like translocations won’t be able to happen this year. While the translocations are needed to bring the population to a sustainable level, the work we are doing this year will keep the habitat available for both future bluebirds and for other cavity nesting species. We will look forward to bringing more bluebirds back in the years to come.

News flash!

The pair with the mystery hatch date now has babies! Thanks Brielle for the precious photo

CGOP babies May 22

April 15 Update

Hello Good Folks,

This beautiful spring weather has been a silver lining during these stressful days. Our birds seem to be enjoying it as well, a few even decided to come home early this year with sightings beginning in mid-February! Some are scouting out a variety of places. One of our Cowichan females was seen up in Comox with a couple of males and one Western Bluebird was even spotted in the Fraser Valley. In Cowichan Valley there is at least one pair checking out nest boxes this week. It is nice to see our bluebirds flouting social distancing rules. Can we live vicariously?

While the bluebirds are blissfully unaware of the current pandemic, we have been trying to figure out how to proceed with the project while keeping everyone safe. The solitary, outdoor nature of trail monitoring does make our work more feasible at this time though care must be taken to protect each other (I have been searching high and low for hand-sanitizer!). The cross-border aspect of translocations means that we may need to delay them by a couple months or even until next season depending on how things go. Meanwhile we can care for our returning birds and maintain our nest box trails for future growth.

Speaking of future growth, I have been delighted to see the amount of interest in nest box trails we have been seeing from the Victoria area. By creating more habitat throughout the bluebirds historic range, we can potentially strengthen our Cowichan population as we provide places for fledglings to disperse to and from.

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy out there. I have included a comic from birdandmoon.com to brighten your day. https://www.birdandmoon.com/comic/why-birding-is-my-favorite-video-game/

Best wishes,

Jacquie

Trail Monitor Training Workshop

I am excited to let you know that despite all the craziness of these times we have found a way to carry on with our Trail Monitoring Workshop without risking anyone’s health. Thanks to the wonders of technology and the help of Ann Nightingale, we are going to host our event online using the platform Zoom.
You are cordially invited to join us on March 29 from 9am-11:30. To register, follow the link below:  https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/bluebird-nest-box-trail-monitoring-online-workshop-tickets-98751435201
For those who have not used Zoom before, here is a link for instructions: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-Joining-a-Meeting With this platform you can choose your level of participation, if you turn video on we will all see your lovely faces, you can choose to use audio only or simply to watch while muted if you are feeling more private. The host will put you on mute while presentations are in progress but there are opportunities for people to share and ask questions. You can choose your username which can be your real name or something made up.
Ann Nightingale, Genevieve Singleton, Hannah Hall, and I, Jacquie Taylor will be presenting the workshop which will include:
  • History of the Bluebird Project
  • Safe nest box checking and maintenance;
  • Recording observations;
  • Predator prevention;
  • Local native and non-native cavity nesting species and how to identify their nests;
  • Supplemental feeding
If you are interested in watching but not available at that time (or the idea of using a new platform makes you uncomfortable), we will be recording the workshop. Please just let us know and we can make it available to you. I will be also be making the Bluebird Trail Monitoring Handbook available, both by email and through our website.
It is wonderful that there are still ways for us to connect during this isolating time. I really look forward to seeing you all there! Please contact me if you have any questions.
* Due to a hiccup in switching from an in person event to online the registration says that all non-member tickets are sold out, please just register as a member regardless of whether you are or not.
Warm wishes,
Jacquie Taylor