The migration of birds north has begun. The eager of the Mountain Bluebird’s has arrived in Canada in the first week of March. As always, the early bird! These birds would normally winter in Texas, Arizona or Nevada. They are one of the first to trek north on their migration and can arrive by the end of February.
One of our little annual projects is to monitor bluebird nesting boxes helping return their natural range (May to July) in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains west of Calgary, Alberta. For over the last 12 years we have had this weekly project where we observe their nesting, hatchlings, and fledging. Mountain bluebirds are cavity nesters and can become very partial to a nest box, especially if they have successfully raised a clutch. They may even re-use the same nest, though not always.
Providing nest boxes is a great way to observe these beautiful birds. Mountain bluebirds will not abandon a nest if human activity is detected close by or at the nest. Because of this, mountain bluebirds can be easily banded while they are still in the nest.
In addition we band the young as well as the adults. We can easily catch the female as she broods her eggs. The males are very catchable but only when they enter the nest box to feed their young, a span over 4-6 days.
Two interesting results from banding over the years. One year we banded both the adult male and female in the same nest box. The following year we caught them both once again in the same box and still together, so you can say birds can be monogamous!
We had a female we banded as an adult and she returned to same next box every year for six years. It was sad when she did not return for the seventh year.