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A fall farewell to the bluebirds (7 photos)

Bird columnist Rosaleen Egan welcomes Eastern Bluebirds to her neck of the woods

I was amazed a couple of weeks when some Eastern Bluebirds showed up at the nesting boxes where a couple successfully created a family in the summer. I haven’t had them around since mid-summer. 

I wondered if the three that were excitedly checking out the nesting box were the kids home for Thanksgiving before heading south for the winter. They are still here and are most welcome to stay as long as they like. 

Apparently, more of them overwinter in Southern Ontario Carolinian forest area than they did at one time. From what I read, migration still needs some scientific study. They have been included in Birds Canada and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. It’d be pretty cool if they were still here at that time, as long as they are warm and able to find food. They eat bugs, spiders and fruit.  

I asked some birders a question as to why they might be so interested in the boxes outside of breeding season.  Sometimes citizen science or anecdotal information is quite reliable. The actual birds were not sharing their reasons. 

One person said bluebirds sleep in cavities at all times of the year and are naturally curious about checking them out. Another said they’ve had 10 sleeping in the same box on a chilly night. 

I was also told that it’s a hormonal thing because the days are similar in length and temperature to that of when they usually do nest in the spring. 

Whatever the reason, I am grateful for their time here. Hopefully they’ll be around for a little longer. 

According to Bill Read of the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society, “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.”

Both the bluebirds and I were fortunate. Friends of mine took on a Covid project to make and sell Eastern Bluebird boxes. I purchased two boxes and had one occupied quite quickly by a bluebird pair. 

As the fall progresses birds we see in summer head south, some unusual ones pass through, and some from farther north winter here. It’s fun to have bluebirds, harbingers of spring here, at the same time as Dark-eyed Juncos and White-crowned Sparrows who herald winter. I will talk about those species next time.  

I share experiences of bird visitors to this property with readers every couple of weeks. Until next time, keep your eye to the sky, and look for birds that may come by. 

Rosaleen Egan is a freelance journalist, a storyteller, and a playwright. She blogs on her website