Photo journal by Elyse Portal (Parchoma)
Photos by Elyse except where noted
Once a common species within Garry oak ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands, Western Bluebirds thrived until the 1950s, when their numbers began to decline. Since 1995, they have not nested on this region, and are considered extirpated.
Some of the reasons for their absence include the reduction of insect prey due to pesticide use, loss of Garry oak habitat, removal of standing dead trees, and competition for nest holes with exotic bird species such as European Starlings and English House Sparrows. Probably the greatest factor for their decline is urban development.
Western Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, meaning that they cannot build their own nest cavities, and depend on old woodpecker cavities, deadwood or nestboxes.