I’ve been getting quite a few emails about bluebirds lately. I see that as a good sign about the rebounding eastern bluebird population.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s AllAboutBirds.com, my go-to website for information about North American birds, says the eastern bluebird is a species of “low concern.” The site reads, “Eastern Bluebird populations fell in the early twentieth century as aggressive introduced species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows made available nest holes increasingly difficult for bluebirds to hold on to. In the 1960s and 1970s, establishment of bluebird trails and other nest-box campaigns alleviated much of this competition, especially after people began using nest boxes designed to keep out the larger European Starling. Eastern Bluebird numbers have been recovering since.”
In recent years, I have proclaimed our coldest season as the Winter of … whatever bird is being seen in unusually high numbers that winter. I remember the Winter of the Snowy Owl in 2014 and the Winter of the Barred Owl in 2019 (that winter was crazy with all the owls being seen throughout New England.) Juncos and robins have also made the list.
But this year, for the second time in three years, it has to be the Winter of the Bluebird. It is the first repeat selection. I should probably mention here that this is strictly my own proclamation based on my personal experiences and emails received from readers. There is absolutely nothing scientific about this.
I’ve seen bluebirds in a variety of locations this winter. I haven’t been lucky enough to attract them to my house, but I have received several emails from readers who have seen bluebirds in their yards. Many readers have sent along photos, which I appreciate and post to my blog.
Here are a few more eastern bluebird photos I managed to get in addition to the one I used to support my last column, which may be found here. It appears to be another good year for seeing bluebirds this New England winter as I’ve heard from several readers who have seen these beauties.
My foot was finally feeling a little better so I figured I’d try a short bird walk. Turns out, it wasn’t ready for prime time. I walked a few hundred yards on the uneven snowy terrain and had to turn back.
The little I did manage to walk was along a wood’s edge with good, thick brush forming a barrier, perfect for birds to hide in. A lone white-throated sparrow and a lone tree sparrow were the only birds I saw, however. There was also a male cardinal, but he never left his protected spot among the bramble and I could spy only specks of red.
On my way back, I noticed a white-breasted nuthatch and a woodpecker in a big tree beyond the truck. I figured it was worth a closer look because I had seen a yellow-bellied sapsucker in that very tree some time ago. It turned out to be a downy woodpecker, and it had flown off to a more distant tree by the time I hobbled over there anyway.
Not all was lost, though, as the detour led me to a small flock of eastern bluebirds. Some were perched in the low branches of a nearby tree, and some were in the brush picking at berries of some sort.
We don’t usually think of eastern bluebirds as a winter bird in New England, but many bluebirds tough out our cold months. Visits from or sightings of bluebirds brighten the short winter days, for sure. Here’s a collection of photos of bluebirds in the snow.
I hadn’t seen bluebirds at my feeder since May, but back they came earlier this week. They stayed for about 10 minutes and were gone. I haven’t seen them since. I had a few other surprise visitors to the feeder this week. More on that Continue reading →
Unfortunately, the bluebirds that had visited daily since February have moved on. I haven’t seen them in about a week. Hopefully they will return next winter. It seems an appropriate time to look back on an action-packed April, which included scenes like this: an eastern bluebird and pine warbler sharing a suet feeder.