Eastern Bluebirds

October 22 2012. Ruthven Park Cayuga ON.   Everyone loves Bluebirds; don’t they?  The 1981-85 Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario noted that the winters of 1957-58, 1976-77 and 1977-78 had caused an estimated 60 – 90% decline in the bluebird population. The species was accordingly declared to be ‘rare’.  Then the 2001-2005 atlas reported significant increases in the province as a whole and that the species had been de-listed, it is no longer considered rare.  Much of this rebound is attributable to people putting up nest boxes, the Eastern Bluebird seems to be out of danger and around the bird observatory it is almost commonplace.

Over the past few days my daily census efforts have turned up lots of bluebirds, last Friday we recorded 47 and today 31.

Today was a beauty, we had a brush with frost first thing, but a clear blue sky and warm breezes pushed the temperature up, it was almost a summer day.  The banding lab was seeing lots of White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers and even Orange-crowned Warblers.  Doing the census was a challenge, we could hear a lot of little-bird-noises: chips, squeaks and tics.  We suspected kinglets, sparrows and creepers but had a devil of a time confirming our suspicions.  We watched an Osprey plunge for and grab a fish, then take it wriggling and flapping to a riverbank branch.  A Hermit Thrush seemed annoyed by Slate-coloured Juncos invading its woodlands and started to sing an uncertain, watered down version of its fluting stop-you-in-your-tracks territorial song. There were Blue Jays screeching everywhere, so many that it was really hard to keep count but we recorded a conservative 28 anyway. And the background to all of this was the constant soft calling of Eastern Bluebirds, they were flying overhead, calling ‘tu-loofrom hedgerows, tall trees, short trees, and I even encountered a small group grumbling about something indeterminate quite deep within the maple hickory forest.  They carried the day for me just for being survivors and endlessly charming.

A male Eastern Bluebird – in July. Bluebirds use nest boxes with success but it’s hard work keeping Tree Swallows and House Sparrows away

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