While out looking for Bobolinks at Bronte Creek Provincial Park this June, I also watched for Eastern Bluebirds. The last time I had noticed any was also in my teen years in eastern Ontario, although I had seen Western and Mountain Bluebirds since then. I vaguely expected to see a Bluebird, if one was living in the park, perched on a fence around the old orchard near the barn. But that wasn’t where I encountered one!
Are Eastern Bluebirds Endangered or Threatened?
I was pleasantly surprised when reading up on Eastern Bluebirds to discover that they are actually thriving. In the 1950s and 60s, people were concerned that the birds were declining in population. The drop was blamed on DDT, competition for nest sites with non-native European Starlings and House Sparrows, and on changes to farming and land uses that were resulting in fewer pastures. At that time, many groups were strongly encouraging farmers and landowners to set up “Bluebird Trails.” These were long lines of evenly spaced nest boxes.
Banning the indiscriminate use of DDT in North America and a proliferation of nesting boxes seems to have helped dramatically. According to the AllAboutBirds website, the population of Eastern Bluebirds has been growing steadily higher since the 1960s and there is no concern about their numbers. Most of the breeding population nests in the US, though, so they still are not a particularly common bird in southern Ontario.
Where Have I Seen the Bluebirds at Bronte Creek?
I looked for Bluebirds at Bronte at various places around the park. I checked the small orchard where they pasture the cows near the Spruce Lane Farmhouse. I checked some bird-box hosting fields along the main access road. But where I have seen a pair of birds now several times is up near Parking Lot A.
If you leave that parking lot walking towards the Children’s Play Barn, there is a park vehicle road heading perpendicular to the lot. Along the side closest to the park entrance gate, there is a stand of several trees that edge an unmowed (in 2015) field where the Bobolinks are nesting. On the other side of this same road is a row of some shrubs, trees and undergrowth that divides a small strip of grass from the much larger mowed grass area leading to a picnic site.
The male Bluebird has been perching in both of these two sets of trees and shrubs while hunting. He isn’t particularly noticeable unless the light happens to strike him at just the right angle. Then he gleams blue.
I saw this other Eastern Bluebird perched in the same area. Judging by the spotting and the yellow around the bill that I could see in another photo, I think it is a juvenile. You’re welcome to share your opinion with a comment.
(I’m sure there are other Bluebirds in the park: this is just the pair I have found the most easily.)
While I was stalking an interesting butterfly along an old wagon trail in this area, I paused many times. One time, I looked ahead because a Bobolink had just flown in to the nearby trees and started singing. And there, only a dozen yards ahead of me, was the male Bluebird perched on a branch. Since I had my long lens on, I was able to get some acceptable, to me, photos, without disturbing him at all.
How Can I Help the Bluebirds in Ontario?
I read an interesting article by Rob’in TO about a day he spent with a team of volunteers readying nest boxes for the spring at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. In it, he mentions the organization The Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society who can be contacted if you would like to also help the birds by maintaining a trail of nesting boxes.
So Do Bluebirds Really Bring Happiness?
I’m not sure although I was very happy to get a good look at this male. I do know that I was very glad none of the birds was singing the “Cinder-elly, Cinder-elly” song!
- Black and White Bobolinks Bob Up Into Sight
- What Sparrow Has a Long Yellow Eyebrow and Sings In Fields?
- Those Sparrows in the Farm Fields May Actually Be Horned Larks
Do Eastern Bluebirds nest near you? Please share your sighting with a comment.