Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Eastern Bluebird and Supporting Cast

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
and Supporting Cast
Waterloo County, ON
6 May 2014

    The Eastern Bluebird has been celebrated in song (and Western and Mountain Bluebirds also) perhaps more than any other species. There are countless songs in North America extolling the beauty of bluebirds, and one of the most memorable songs from World War II is Vera Lynn's song about there being bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover - and Britain doesn't even have bluebirds!

    It seems that this species has somehow always had a certain resonance with humans, and its return was eagerly anticipated by First Nations people in times past as an augury of good times ahead. Their belief was that the Great Spirit sent the sky on its back and the earth on its belly, and that as long as the bluebird returned there would not be famine.
   Bluebirds are cavity nesters and since humans have an apostolic zeal for destroying old forests and removing snags, natural cavities are in short supply, with much competition from other species for them. Some twenty to thirty years ago, Eastern Bluebirds were in serious decline and were a cause of great concern. Champions of bluebird conservation started to spring up everywhere and there now exist a great number of bluebird societies, established for the express purpose of providing habitat for the species. Legions of volunteers erect and maintain nest boxes, with some dedicated enthusiasts maintaining bluebird trails of several hundred nest boxes.

    Miriam and I are no less enthusiastic about bluebirds, and though we do not maintain a trail, we eagerly await their arrival each spring, and from early April onward start to check the locations where we regularly find them.
    I blogged recently about the Conestoga River and it is close to its banks that we often see our first Eastern Bluebird of the year - always an event of great joy.
    When coupled with the pastoral tranquility of the river valley, rarely does the exquisite quality of nature impress itself more resolutely.

     This lone Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator had somehow become separated from other members of its kind and was cruising along the river.

    A pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds Molothrus ater were feeding on seed left by some bird lover. It is amazing to us how often we see seed left on walls, stumps, fence posts, or simply strewn on the ground. People obviously do this from a deep-rooted love of wild creatures for they do it without 
obvious reward and as far as we have observed do not even tarry to see what species come to their bounty. Perhaps this is altruism in its purest form.

    Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe is always one of the earliest flycatchers to arrive back in southern Ontario from its wintering haunts in warmer climes, and we were delighted to see this individual. Phoebes will sometimes nest in the same location year after year, constantly adding one nest atop the previous ones, until a veritable tower is constructed.


  1. Hi David!
    Just back from Spain!
    You are my first blog visit! LOL!
    The encounter with the Genet was really exceptional and unexpected and as they are nocturnal, I doubt we'll have the opportunity to see one when you come... :(
    What a gorgeous little guy, this Blue bird! Your second pic is fantastic!
    And the landscapes seem so quiet that nature must feel at a rest there from humans!!
    I''l be back tomorrow to have look at your other posts!
    Keep well... Only 2 months to go!!! LOL!

  2. Great captures, gorgeous bluebird! I have never seen bluebirds here, maybe I just don't know where to look!

  3. Beautiful photos, as always !

  4. such a beautiful bird and series, enjoyed the location shots too David

  5. Wonderful to see, especially the first bird what a beauty is that.

    Groetjes Tinie

  6. Wonderful series David.
    Many different types too.
    Greetings Irma

  7. I can't help but wonder if the blue birds over the cliffs of Dover were swallows - which are blueish!

    Great post.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS; no harm in embracing the inner curmudgeon now and then! Sedona looked great - but the human impositions, those I could life without.

  8. Ohhhh ..... what a beautiful bird is this David!
    Blue and orange as well as pictures of the water with reflections in it are really beautiful to see. My compliments for these beautiful pictures.

  9. Fantastic photos! Bluebird is cute :-)
    Warm greetings, David!

  10. Hi David. I'm just back from Spain and catching up with everyone. It's a treat to return to Bluebirds if only in your remarkable photos rather than the actual flesh and feather. Like Stewart, I wonder if the artisitic licence in Vera Lynn's song was directed at House Martins?

    Looks like Spring finally arrived in your neck of the literal woods?

  11. Another super post, David. I particularly like the Bluebird images - with the blue showing so well. On my only visit to the USA since I've been birdwatching I was lucky enough to encounter both Western and Mountain Bluebirds, but only one sighting of each. They struck me as fabulous birds with that amazing blue - which I almost totally failed to capture in my photos as they weren't in the right light!

    Any chance of you adding a week or a few days to your Iberian trip to visit UK? We'd love to see you both.

    Best wishes - - - Richard