T.O. BACKYARD – WINTER BLUES

Brightening up a grey day in January. Photo by Rob Mueller

It’s not very often that Rob and I go on a nature/birding walk with a target bird in mind. But on a grey, dreary Saturday in January we did just that, we went looking for Eastern Bluebirds.

I still remember the first time I saw an Eastern Bluebird. We were driving around back roads of southwestern Ontario many years ago, and there on top of some road side wires we saw our first pair. They took our breath away, even if it wasn’t a picture perfect perch. Since that time Rob and I have become members of the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society and I have managed their Facebook page for the last few years. It was a way for me to give back to an organization that has helped this species thrive.

Eastern Bluebirds overwintering in southern Ontario is becoming more common. A friend of ours saw a few at a park about a half hour drive from our home on December 18, 2016. His sighting was the reason for our outing in the new year. They are not a bird we will see in our backyard, the suburbs of Toronto isn’t a good habitat for them. Cavity nesting birds, they prefer open fields and meadow type areas if the right bird boxes are supplied.

Rob is currently working with a local college that has an area on their grounds that provide the perfect habitat for Eastern Bluebirds. They nested there years ago, and are still seen there on occasion. The college, with Rob’s assistance, are hoping to have them nest there again. They did have success with Tree Swallows last year.

Overwintering in Burlington, Ontario. Dec. 2016 Photo by Dave iluck

We always have to travel out of our backyard to see Eastern Bluebirds, and we usually see them in May during migration, when like many other birders we are making the most of the opportunity to see many different species.

Two female Eastern Bluebirds. Jan. 2017 Photo by Rob Mueller

This particular Saturday we wanted a hint of the beauty that arrives with Spring, so in search we went. Bronte Provincial Park in Burlington, Ontario hosts monitored nest boxes, and it seems some of the Eastern Bluebirds decided to stay for the winter. We walked for quite a while, and then it happened, that brilliant flash of blue caught our eyes.

Male Eastern Bluebird. Jan. 2017 Photo by Rob Mueller

We saw six Eastern Bluebirds on our outing, three male and three female. Watching them was joyful, and a beautiful reminder of the coming season.

Photo by Dave iluck Dec. 2016, Bronte Provincial Park, Burlington, Ontario  

This entry was posted in Bird Canada and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to T.O. BACKYARD – WINTER BLUES

  1. Rob and Angie Mueller says:

    Thank you so much for all the comments! I wasn’t made aware of them until this morning. I’m so very glad this blog was enjoyed, it was a special one to me. Angie

  2. Lee Bartley says:

    I was not aware the Eastern Bluebird overwintered anywhere in ON. I live in the Bruce Peninsula ..wonder if they are here? Locally there are Bluebird boxes on some of the fence posts…I will have to make a point to look. Thank you!

  3. Carrie Jonker says:

    delightful! Thank you so much. I was in Burlington last week and considered visiting this park. Now I have further reason to consider it.

  4. Delores says:

    It would be wonderful to see bluebirds year round, although that would indicate warmer winters, not so good for the environment.

  5. Scott says:

    Eastern Bluebirds are one of my favorites to see, especially in our Ohio winters. They look great against a snowy backdrop. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Rosie says:

    Beautiful pictures. I once saw a bluebird in the tree outside my classroom window one December day, but have not seen one since in our area north of Chicago, 5 blocks west of Lake Michigan. I wonder if a bluebird nesting box would attract them, but perhaps it’s not wooded enough in my yard (there’s a bank of tall fir/pines and a very large oak tree nearby). We are also near forest preserves and I get the usual neighborhood birds and migrants, plus orioles in the spring.
    Thanks for the post!

  7. Ann btokelman says:

    Fantastic article
    Enjoy all the articles

  8. Tammie says:

    I’ve been lucky enough the past couple of years to have Bluebirds nesting nearby. Close enough that although they didn’t nest in my yard, they do come here to feed. Last summer, I was able to watch a family of five! 🙂

    Tammie in Manitouwadge