I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to everyone that has made this project possible. Thanks so much to our volunteers, nest box hosts and funders, it is such a delight to work with you all and I am feeling so blessed to get to know you. This picture was created for us by my son, Malcolm. I thought this might be a nice moment to share it.
Our Bluebird Technician, Brielle, is migrating now that the field season is coming to an end. She has done fantastic work, the bluebird nest box trails are safer for her contributions. We wish her well in her new adventures!
Hello All Bluebird Aficionados,
As the last of the bluebird clutches of the summer have fledged, it appears that this season is drawing to a close. There are a total of seven new fledglings leaving the valley this year to mysterious locations south of the border. We wish them safe journeys and look forward to seeing them back next spring. There were two nesting territories this year and a total of 11 adults were spotted on Vancouver Island.
We used this quiet summer to spend time increasing the safety of our bluebird trails. This was achieved by replacing inaccessible boxes with ones that we can keep House Sparrows out of and by moving many boxes off of fences and on to posts with mammal guards and raptor guards. I want to express my gratitude to the landowners that generously allowed us to make all these changes on their properties.
Thanks as well to the intrepid trail monitors who keep track of all our boxes, to the volunteers that feed mealworms to our hungry families and of course to Ted who is the both the reason we have mealworms to feed at all and the provider of excellent feeders. I also wish to express my appreciation for all the help that Genevieve has given me as I found my feet in this new role. I am truly inspired by this community!
Normally at this time of year we would invite you all to an End of Season Appreciation Potluck. I hope very much that we will do this next summer, it will be nice to see all your faces again without a glowing screen and maybe even share food again one day (Gasp!). This year we are planning an online gathering for August 22, at 10:30 am. Please join us! We will share some of the season’s photos as well as a little video of a few species’ nestlings. I will send everyone a link to join in.
Thank you all so much,
Jacquie Taylor and Brielle Reidlinger
The Rocky Point Bird Observatory is hosting online Zoom presentations and this week will be the Cowichan Bring Back the Bluebird projects turn to talk. Join us Tuesday, Aug 11 at 7 pm to hear us share all about the project. Register by going to the RPBO website: http://rpbo.org/online_presentations.php
One of our pairs in the Cowichan Valley, has produced a second clutch! This clutch is well on their way to fledging and will be banded come the middle of next week. Stay tuned for more updates on these little guys in the following weeks.
We banded our second clutch of the season this Sunday in a beautiful Garry Oak Meadow. Four more additions to the Cowichan Blue Birds! This time we managed to take a video to share with you. Thank you to our volunteers for helping out with the day!
They have hatched!
Of the six eggs, five nestlings have hatched. We will be keeping a watchful eye on them over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more updates on this clutch in the weeks to come.
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!
Hole reducer plate
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.
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
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!