[Tweeters] Western Bluebirds near Bryant (Snohomish Co.)

stan Kostka lynn Schmidt lynnandstan at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 19 11:42:06 PST 2018

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for that report. That’s totally cool, I’ve never seen a bluebird around here so late.

Regarding what we did, in the spring of 2002 we observed several bluebirds on three occasions in a new clearcut on Kunde Road. We put up four nestboxes there that spring, and bluebirds nested in one box. Between 2002 and 2008 we put up 30 nestboxes at 10 different clearcuts east of Bryant. We were thrilled at how successful the project was. All ten sites had bluebirds nesting, some sites more than one pair, and many nestboxes had double broods. Almost all nestboxes not used by bluebirds were used by either violet green or tree swallows. Never saw a House Sparrow. So, new clearcuts apparently are great bluebird habitat.

Problem with running a bluebird trail in clearcuts is that the cuts grow back fast. All were replanted and within five years or so the new trees and brush overtake the boxes and access disappears. If you want to know what I mean, try going for a walk through a six year old clearcut sometime. Here in lowland western Washington the vegetation gets pretty much impenetrable over a few seasons.

One thing we did learn is that when you repeatedly visit nestboxes to inspect contents, you are creating and reinforcing a scent trail, that will be followed by potential nest predators. One of our first nestboxes on Kunde Road was visited by some predator that killed the female and all nestlings. Whatever it was got through an inch and a half round hole. After that we put climbing predator guards on all the nestboxes we installed and never again recorded any predation events.

I stopped collecting data after the 2010 season. Many of the cuts were growing up, my energy for the project was waning, and we had satisfied our curiosity. I’ve never written up the results, probably should sometime.

I still walk and mountain bike the roads and trails around here and there is one site where I moved one of the boxes to an open area next to a four way road intersection. This one box had bluebirds using it this past summer. I have no info on any of the other old sites, they are all pretty much grown over now.

Stan Kostka
lynnandstan at earthlink.net
Arlington (East of Bryant)

Subject: Western Bluebirds near Bryant (Snohomish Co.)
Date: Sat Nov 3 2018 1:58 am
From: contopus AT telus.net


Late this afternoon, while birding in the NW part of Snohomish County, I was
surprised to discover a flock of 5 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS near the small
community of Bryant (located directly east of Stanwood and just east of
I-5). The exact location was on 59th Avenue NE, very close to 1 mile north
of Grandview Road. At one point all 5 were perched in the top of a small
dead tree, and I got good scope views; later, 1 or 2 were on fencelines
close to the road. It appeared to be a family group, although I did not see
an adult male- all were females or immatures.

The link to my eBird list
(https://ebird.org/view/checkli... ) may

help others to wish to look for these birds.
This is a species not seen too often in Snohomish County. In 2007, a pair

nested in a box along Kunde Road, less than 10 miles away, and was seen by
me and others. (If I recall correctly, this box and several others were put
up by Stan Kostka in the hope of attracting Western Bluebirds, which was
successful!) There have been a few more recent sightings along Kunde Road,
but I'm not sure if the bluebirds ever nested there again.

One of the odd things about my sighting was that it was in November-perhaps
the first-ever November sighting in Snohomish County. This suggests that the
birds may winter in the area. In Washington, the great majority of Western

Bluebirds head south for the winter, although in the Okanagan Valley of BC,
where Western Bluebirds are quite common, a large percentage stay all

Anyway, others may wish to check this location to see if the bluebirds stay
all winter. If so, it may be worth putting up more nest boxes in the area in
hopes that the population will increase.

Wayne C. Weber
Delta, BC
contopus at telus.net

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