Look closely and you’ll see a baby bluebird “pipping” the egg in upper right

2014 marks our 8th field season on the project, and after two years of post-reintroduction monitoring, where we discovered that the Western bluebird population was declining, we have re-initiated translocations of birds to San Juan Island.


–The spring migration yielded low returns (4 returning birds confirmed + 2 other birds spotted but whereabouts currently unknown).

— Although our nestling survival rate from 2013 was high, we were expecting these low return numbers.  Juvenile bluebirds will experience severe mortality rates in their first year (as is true of many migratory birds); with only 24 banded last year, we didn’t have high hopes for numbers of first-year birds returning.

–To date, the naturally returning pairs have produced four nestlings.

–Three family groups (adult pairs with young in the nest) have been translocated from the Ft. Lewis prairie in S. Puget Sound, and from the Corvallis area in Oregon to supplement this struggling population.

A juvenile bluebird shows his colors

–After a brief period of time in a holding aviary, these family groups have been released, all on San Juan Island.   Some adults and juveniles have stayed near the release location.  Sadly, one female bluebird was caught and killed by a cat several miles away from the release location.

–Your best shot at viewing these beautiful birds is in San Juan Valley, and along the Cattle Point Road corridor.  Contact Kathleen Foley for the “inside scoop” on their whereabouts.  Some of these birds can only be viewed on private land and therefore permission from the landowner is required to see them.

The San Juan Preservation Trust, and our partners at The Ecostudies Institute, the American Bird Conservancy, and the local Audubon Society remain committed to our mission to restore a healthy and sustaining population of Western bluebirds in the San Juan Islands.  We are continuing to seek funding to help us continue this project (through all the highs and lows!) to see this goal realized.  If you can provide assistance in any fashion (monetary or labor) we would love to hear from you. 

2013 Field Technician Kelsey Green (left) and Kathleen Foley set up a bluebird aviary on SJPT’s Red Mill Farm in San Juan Valley

Inquiries regarding this project can be directed to kathleenf@sjpt.org.