Sacajawea Audubon 2016 Bluebird Trail Summary
Overall, 2016 was a productive year for Mountain Bluebirds. A total of 676 bluebirds fledged from nest boxes on our 6 monitored trails. 181 boxes were used out of 272 available. The remainder were used by tree swallows and house wrens.
Because of a relatively mild spring, the bluebirds began laying eggs over a week earlier than usual. Even a mid-May snowstorm didn’t slow them down. The Rocky Mountain Road trail had it’s earliest-ever nestling, found on May 4th.
On the Pass Creek Rd./Rocky Mountain Rd. trails, we banded a total of 310 birds, 268 nestlings and 42 adult females. We also recaptured 8 females, a couple of which had been banded as nestlings the previous year. It’s nice to know they are coming back to nest in their natal area.
Predation of nests was up from previous years. The Rocky Mountain Rd. trail had a total of 24 predated nests (up from 18 last year). The Pass Creek trail had 34 nests predated (up from 32 last year). The causes were varied: snakes, raccoons, weasels, kestrels & house sparrows. In fact one box was found to have a complete house sparrow nest built on top of a dead female bluebird.
One of the most interesting events of the nesting season was an epic battle between a resident male bluebird (whose mate and nestlings had died), and another bluebird pair for the occupancy of Box 70 on Rocky Mountain Road. The three birds were so engrossed in their fight that they were oblivious to our presence and even slammed into my car on two occasions. In the end, the new pair won out and successfully raised six fledglings. And we thought bluebirds were such gentle creatures!
We took a total of 22 people out on the bluebird trails this summer, including 10 on the June 12th field trip. Everyone loves to see those little bluebird nestlings and hold one in their hands.
The bluebird nest box sponsorship program was a great success, and we plan to do it again for 2017. Following is a complete report of the success (or failure) of each box, along with its sponsor. Please click on the link below for the full report.
Lou Ann Harris