Birdwatching Canada

A voice for the northern birds

Blue Spring At Last

It’s been a very white spring here in the west. As loathe as I am to admit it, it’s now the second day of April, and no matter which window I look out of, I see snow. Piles of snow. Sigh.

Fortunately, up and down the foothills, birdwatchers are reporting increasing numbers of blue flashes among the white, which can only mean the beautiful mountain bluebirds have returned once again.

Male mountain bluebird

Male mountain bluebird

These small members of the Thrush family were once considered sacred by the Navajo because their feathers are the color of the sky. They were regarded as images of the rising sun, the supreme image of the creator.

These attractive birds are native only to North America, and are found from Alaska, through western Canada and the USA to Mexico. They nest in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and The Yukon.

Males return first in the spring, staking out their territories and waiting for the return of the females a few weeks later. The males select a nesting site and fly in and out repeatedly, singing during the entire performance to attract a female.

Bluebirds are the only members of this family to nest in cavities or bird houses, and are losing nest sites to the more aggressive European starlings and house sparrows. The recovery of the bluebird population is due in large part to the establishment of bluebird trails, and human-supplied nest boxes.

Across the western provinces, it is not uncommon to see miles of bird boxes on rural fence posts, or in trees. If you put up a bluebird house near an old field, orchard, park, cemetery, or golf course, you’ll have good chance of attracting a pair of bluebirds. They prefer nest boxes on a tree stump or wooden fence post between three – five feet high.

If you would like to contribute to the conservation of these beautiful harbringers of spring, you can get plans for bluebird boxes, learn about trail management and just generally read more about these popular little songbirds at the Mountain Bluebird Trails website.

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