NORTH OKANAGAN NATURALISTS' CLUB

Vernon, British Columbia

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Bluebirds in Vernon

by Claude Rioux


Bluebirds across North America were once

common, however by the 1960's their numbers

had dropped dismally due to development, the

use of DDT pesticide and invasive species.  As

housing expanded into the rural countryside,

an influx of House Sparrows and European

Starlings who also vied for tree cavity nest

sites occurred. The competition seriously

impacted Bluebirds and other native tree cavity

users.


The North American Bluebird Society was

formed in the late 1960's to help reverse this

decline. Soon clubs and groups across North America were engaged in providing an alternative to natural sites by building trails and nest boxes for Bluebirds, and other secondary cavity users.

     

In the Vernon area, we have two species of

Bluebirds: the Mountain Bluebird and the

Western Bluebird. They arrive from their

wintering grounds in the south earlier than

most birds and begin hunting for a suitable nest

site in March and early April.


The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club (NONC)

joined the Bluebird Nest Box Program in the

1990s and now manages up to 20 Bluebird Trails

established on farms and ranch lands with a total

of several hundred nest boxes. Each trail has

from 8 to 40 boxes and is maintained and

monitored by persons who visit the nest boxes

weekly.


The monitors check for species of bird, dates of egg laying, numbers of chicks hatching and fledging. All results are recorded and sent to the Southern Interior Bluebird Society which collects data from all BC sites.


Anyone interested in learning more about these beautiful birds and the Nest Box Program is welcome to contact Margaret Mackenzie, Coordinator – Vernon Bluebird Trails, via e-mail at info@nonc.ca



Three other resources for bluebird monitors are:


BC Bluebirds, the website of the Southern Interior Bluebird Trails Society http://www.bcbluebirds.org


North American Bluebird Society http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org


Sialis, a very informative website operated by Bet Zimmerman  http://www.sialis.org

Mountain Bluebird (male)

photograph by

Claude Rioux

Western Bluebird (male)

photograph by

Claude Rioux