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 about 25 years ago and now manages 18 Bluebird Trails established on farms and ranch lands with a total of about 450 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 are welcome to contact Margaret Mackenzie, Coordinator – Vernon Bluebird Trails, at 250-542-2712 or
mhubble@telus.net.

British Columbia also has a bluebird trails society, the Southern Interior Bluebird Trails Society (SIBTS). Their website is
www.bcbluebirds.org