Three years in, western bluebirds thriving in Cowichan

Western bluebirds had been extinct from Vancouver Island for almost 20 years when a group of local conservation organizations came together in 2012 to reintroduce the species to their former range, starting in the Cowichan Valley.

Now, three years into the Bring Back the Bluebirds project, western bluebirds can once again be found flying, nesting and breeding in the Cowichan Valley, with additional sightings from Nanaimo to Victoria.

"We are very happy with the success of this reintroduction effort," says Jemma Green, the Bring Back the Bluebirds project coordinator. "Each year the number of birds returning to the Valley increases. In 2013 we had four birds return; in 2014 there were eight; and this year we have 20 and counting. And just last week the first nestlings of 2015 hatched. There are six of them and so far they are doing well."

Once common in Garry oak meadows and savannahs throughout the region, the western bluebird population in British Columbia became extirpated (locally extinct) in 1995. Habitat loss and competition for nest holes with exotic birds are among the reasons for the loss of these tropical-looking songbirds.

Bring Back the Bluebirds is led by the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ecostudies Institute,

the Province of B.C. and the Cowichan Valley Naturalists.

The first pairs of western bluebirds brought up to Vancouver Island in 2012 were released on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve in Duncan. Each year since then some of the birds have returned to this site to nest and raise their young. This year is no exception.

Two pairs and one unpaired male can be seen regularly at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve. One of the paired males

fledged at the preserve in 2012 and has returned three years in a row to breed there.

The other paired male and the unpaired male are both his offspring; both fledged at the preserve in 2013.

"We host monthly bluebird survey volunteer events at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve and around the Valley, and every time we have been able to spot some bluebirds," said Katy Fulton, who coordinates volunteer events for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Just Posted

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Bay man’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

Threads N Tails owner Lee-Ann Burke’s pet clothing has been featured on the cover of the June/July issue of Pet Connection Magazine. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan business featured on magazine cover

Lee-Ann Burke hopes the extra publicity will increase sales

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read