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Initial phases of the bluebird project is a success, but population is not secure

Western Bluebird - Contributed photo
Western Bluebird
— image credit: Contributed photo

Western Bluebirds are returning to San Juan after a 40 year absence.

For more than five years, biologists with the Western Bluebird Reintroduction Project captured and translocated 45 breeding pairs of Western Bluebirds from Washington and Oregon.

One pair of these birds nested in the first year. Over the five years, 212 fledglings were produced with some returning each year as part of the breeding population.

The project includes the American Bird Conservancy, Fort Lewis Military Installation, Ecostudies Institute, SJ Preservation Trust, SJI Audubon Society, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and The Nature Conservancy of Washington.

This year, 30 birds returned to San Juan. Ten were translocated birds from previous years and 18 were fledged from previous years, and 14 were successful.

The project is now moving into a two-year monitoring phase to determine the stability and growth of the population, and future population management.

“Fifteen pairs is by no means a large enough population to be considered secure” said Bob Altman, project leader with American Bird Conservancy. “So we are exploring ways to enhance it beyond the initial five-year period.”

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