The arrival of autumn marks the end of another successful breeding season for the Cowichan Valley-based Bring Back the Bluebirds Project. Although once common in the region, Western Bluebirds had disappeared from Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands by the mid-1990s. Bring Back the Bluebirds is part of an international, multi-partner initiative to re-establish a population of this migratory species in the Salish Sea area.
This spring, the efforts of project partners were rewarded when two of last year’s successful breeding pairs returned to their nest territories from their wintering grounds, along with several of their young. “That’s a great sign of success for the growing population,” says Jemma Green, Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team Project Technician. “Three of the returning adults were released here in the past 2 years, after being captured from a healthy population in Washington. To have both previous years’ released adults and Cowichan-hatched juveniles returning to the area gives us great hope that we can restore this iconic bird of endangered oak ecosystems.” To further boost the breeding population, nine more bluebird pairs were released this summer, as has been done in 2012 and 2013.