April 22 2013
The Eastern Bluebird is a cherished sight for birdwatchers across its range in Ontario. It held a special place in the folklore of our early settlers who welcomed it as a true harbinger of spring. Its colourful appearance and distinctive calls make it easily recognizable. The Eastern Bluebird breeds throughout the province except in the Hudson Bay lowlands. It is found in a variety of habitats from apple orchards to boreal forest, and will nest in almost any area with short vegetation as long as suitable nest cavities are available.
In Southern Ontario most bluebirds migrate west along the north shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie until they cross over into Michigan. The Eastern Bluebird breeds throughout the province in a wide variety of habitats, forest clear cuts, forest fire burn areas, agricultural areas adjacent to urban centers, fallow fields, grazed pastures, fruit orchards or almost any open area with short grass and suitable nest cavities. It eats mostly insects during the breeding season with fruit forming a small part of its diet in late summer especially when feeding young. Bluebirds nest individually or in loose colonies where suitable habitat exists.
Weather has always been the primary limiting factor contributing to Eastern Bluebird population declines but these declines were followed by rebounds to former levels within a few years. Begining in the early fifties these rebounds appear to have failed. Well managed predator proof nestbox trails now provide a means for successfull rebounds. Warmer weather both of average temperature and a decline in the number of cold days -15c or below have meant that more eastern bluebirds are able to survive the winter and return to breed [Phillips 2006].
The formation of the North American Bluebird Society in 1978 and the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society in 1988 also contributed to the increase in numbers by encouraging thousands of individuals and groups across North America to put up nestboxes for Bluebirds. The Eastern Bluebird was declared rare by COSEWIC and MNR based on its low population following the severe winters of 1976 to 1978 [Risley 1987]. The population has increased significantly since to a point where It was delisted in 1996 based on a COSEWIC .
Bill Read – President and Founder – Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society
Nikon 70-200mm + Nikon 2X Teleconverter TC-20E III
ISO-800 f/16 1/800 sec. Shutter Priority
Taken: April 14 2013 – North Dumfries, Ontario