Eastern Bluebird  ( Merlebleu de l'Est )

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Sialia sialis

Description:    Adult male Eastern Bluebird 
Photo Date:   May 12, 2009

Location:  

Hilliard Township

Photographer:  

Michael Werner

General Notes

The population of Eastern Bluebird has increased significantly in the last 40 years, according to a recent analysis of Christmas Bird Count and Breeding Bird Survey records conducted by National Audubon Society scientists. The North American population has increased by 185% since the late 1960's.

When House Sparrows and European Starlings were introduced into North America, the Eastern Bluebird was forced to compete for nesting sites, and their numbers began to decline. Changing land use patterns have also affected Bluebird populations, especially close to urban areas and in areas where modern intensive farming is practiced.

The species also seems to be very susceptible to severe winters on their wintering areas in the southeastern US, often experiencing precipitous declines. The winters of 1895-96 and 1911-12 were particularly devastating, but numbers seemed to recover within a few years.  Later, the harsh winters of 1957-58, 1976-77 and 1977-78 caused an estimated 60 to 90% decline in numbers in Ontario and across its range. It was officially considered "Threatened" in Ontario in 1983.  Since then, its numbers have been slowly recovering.

In Timiskaming, no discussion of bluebirds can be complete without talking about the late Lloyd Taman, the "Bluebird Man of Matachewan". It has been with the help of concerted conservation efforts like those unswervingly exhibited by Lloyd that the bluebird has recovered so well. The Eastern Bluebird, a cavity nesting species, adapts well to artificial nest boxes.  The boxes must be made to specific design standards, though, or they will end up being more suited to the Bluebird's cavity nesting competitors. Upon hearing of the precipitous decline of the Eastern Bluebird in the late 1970's and early 80's, Taman erected over 65 bluebird boxes in suitable habitat in the Matachewan area, and by 1986 was directly responsible for bringing more than 18 nesting pairs back into that area.  He also inspired many others throughout Timiskaming to build and erect nesting boxes. 

In Ontario, the population has been increasing by about 7% per year since 1968, which translates into a 1400% increase between 1968 and 2008.  That means that the current Ontario breeding population is 15X larger than in the late 1960's! Thanks in part to Lloyd's efforts, The Eastern Bluebird is once again a regular summer inhabitant in Timiskaming.

Abundance: Uncommon Earliest observed date:  

Typical arrival date:

April 14
Breeding Status: Breeding Latest observed date:  

Typical departure date:

September 28

Documented Observations

 

 

March 29, 1998. One observed about 20km west of New Liskeard by Bruce and Jackie Murphy.

May 12, 2009. A male and female observed and photographed by Michael Werner in Hilliard Township.

 

Banding Results

Year

Gillies
Lake

Hilliardton
Marsh

Mountain
Chutes

Year
Total

2000 1     1
2007   1   1