Bluebird update

Henry Miller
Submitted by
Fort Frances
Sportsmen’s Club

It was a good year for bluebirds, with more pairs per trail than in any of the past 26 years of this project.
There were problems early on as spring came early, resulting in birds arriving too early.
For example, from March 19-23, many tree swallows and bluebirds were starting to nest. Then on March 24, the temperature plunged below zero and it snowed with two days of blizzard-like conditions.
By March 30, most migrating birds had perished from lack of food and/or the cold.
Grackles also killed and ate some of them.
It wasn’t until the last two weeks in May that nesting began.
With the decline in tree swallow populations over the last two years, bluebirds took advantage of the extra boxes available and 21 pairs built their nests.
But not all were successful.
Mortality rates are high among wildlife populations as weather, predation, pesticides, human interference, and diseases take their toll.
Seventeen pairs of bluebirds were successful, fledging 76 nestlings.
Eighty-five tree swallows were fledged, as well, but the tree swallow population has not recovered from its collapse in 2016.
Over the years, tree swallows have occupied 80 percent of the bird boxes and without these birds, many boxes remain empty now.
Other birds nesting in the birdhouses were 10 pairs of wrens and two pairs of chickadees.
No young were raised on the trail where vandalism occurred (i.e., roofs were taken off) and on another trail where pesticides were used.
In these two areas, there were many dead adults, as well as young birds.
This was only the second time anyone has every interfered with the birdhouses.
Only one pair of bobolinks was observed this year. In the past, however, these birds nested in every field where the trails and boxes were monitored.
Eastern Kingbird sightings also were down this year.
I checked the trails which I don’t monitor nor take the data from, and several pairs of bluebirds were observed.
Margaret Kreger also reported there were four, and possibly five, successful bluebird pairs on the trail near Harris Hill.