With the March winds came the bluebirds, and we are thrilled to see them returning. So far this spring, we have observed 13 pairs of adults (26 birds) on San Juan Island that are actively nesting. Some females are already incubating eggs, others are still building their nests. A few other birds have been sighted but have not been identified just yet.
Especially promising this year is an increase in the number of returning females that were hatched here on San Juan Island. Returning females and a balanced sex ratio are good indicators of a self-sustaining population.
This year Kathleen will be monitoring the populations and we’ll be keeping a careful watch to see how well our initial 5-year effort, with active translocations of birds from Ft Lewis and Oregon, will pay off.
The bluebird project continues north of the border! In an effort to restore Western bluebirds to the entirety of their northern range, two pairs of birds were successfully translocated from Ft. Lewis to The Nature Conservancy Canada’s Cowichan Preserve on Vancouver Island. This is the first translocation of the “Bring Back the Bluebird” project conducted by GOERT (Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team, based in Victoria, BC) which was modeled on our successful project here in the San Juan Islands. Gary Slater of Ecostudies Institute coordinated the translocations. We will be anxiously monitoring to see how our neighbors (neighbours?) to the north carry the legacy of restoring the bluebird to their islands.
The numbers speak for themselves: 92 Adult Western Bluebirds were translocated from the Ft. Lewis, Washington and Willamette Valley, Oregon prairies. 238 baby bluebirds fledged on San Juan Island (possibly even more!). We have a current population size (returning adults) of 38. Over 600 nestboxes were placed on 10 different islands. 376 acres of current/historic oak prairie were permanently conserved. Over 300 community members became involved as volunteers and nest box hosts.