An adult male western bluebird on San Juan Island | Photo: Kathy Finholm

SJPT Stewardship Manager Kathleen Foley reports:

As the 2019 bluebird season draws to a close, I’d like to share this year’s successes:

Newly banded hatchlings ready to return to their nest | Photo: Heather Rolph

  • We banded 86 young this year, making 2019 one of our most successful breeding seasons yet.
  • This was the first year of monitoring after we ceased translocations last year. Our adult naturally returning population increased this year with two more breeding pairs than in 2018.
  • For the first time that we have been able to observe, we had a juvenile female cross Haro Strait and fly to Mt. Tolmie on Vancouver Island—quite a feat for a bird only one month out of the nest box!
  • Several females triple-clutched, meaning they laid three separate nests of eggs. One female even laid three separate clutches of 8 eggs each!
  • Volunteers were a major part of this effort—from early-season searchers to landowners actively caring for “their” birds, to assistance with feeding and predator-proofing nest boxes—truly a huge effort. Thank you to everyone who lent a helping hand.

Moving forward, we will continue to monitor the population, gathering (with the help of volunteers) vital information about the birds’ breeding success and movements around the region. We’ll also do the best we can to control threats from predators such as raccoons and English house sparrows.

This is truly a community effort. The more people who get involved, the better the chance these birds have of keeping their still-precarious toehold here in the islands.

If you’d like to join our band of bluebird volunteers, please send your name and email address to We’ll add you to our Bluebird Bulletin email list to keep you informed about the program’s needs and progress.

Onward and upward with island bluebirds!

P.S. In more bluebird news, here’s a story about a fun group of women from the Portland/Vancouver, WA area who recently spent a day helping with some end-of-season work with next boxes.