Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

8 June

I asked followers of the 1000 Species Project what they would like to see for the one hundredth species – and fairly predictably I was asked for anything from ‘a spider’ to ‘a bird of course’ to ‘something pretty’ but no duplicates or clear leaders. Consequently I get to choose after all and have settled on the Eastern Bluebird.

Apart from the fact these are just gorgeous little birds I chose it to mark this special occasion becase desppite being a summer bird we actually had a small flock of them visiting our garden on a very cold couple of days in mid-January. They had overstayed their stay and were heading south but it was remarkable how resiliant they seemed to be, all fluffed up against the temperature and able to survive becase there was food to be found – in this case some remnant rowan tree berries on our trees.

The comment I wrote at the time on our Garden Journal (https://sparroworks.ca) summed their visit up as follows:

It’s the 17 January, the sun is shining from a clear blue sky, temperatures are -16C (with windchill -27C) and there we are, sitting in the warm reading the papers when a small bird lands in the viburnum bush just outside. A quick glance, not expecting anything other than the regulars for mid-winter when the brain clicks into gear and screams (as did I) “That’s a Bluebird !!!!”

Not only one Bluebird either, but a small flockette of eight birds than then hung around snacking on rowan berries for five to ten minutes before departing. About a quarter of an hour later another two/three were in the rowan tree – not clear if these were additional birds (total = 11) or the originals hanging around.

Most of the birds were, of course, backlit making it very hard to get acceptable photographs but good enough images were grabbed to confirm identity for anyone thinking we might be mistaken.

Exceptionally unusual in winter – according to eBird one was seen in Laval yesterday and a small number on the Macdonald Campus in early November but certainly not in the middle of January. Normally they leave in early November or before and the first returning birds are not seen until late in March with most in April. You do have to wonder what they are doing here. At least they arrived from the north and departed towards the south … wishing them well.