Orange County is blessed with many species of birds, some of which you might see or hear almost daily, including crows, doves, finches, hummingbirds, mockingbirds, robins, and sparrows, to name a few.
Although often overlooked because of their demure nature and soft-spoken call, bluebirds are among North America’s most beautiful and well-loved bird species. This beauty is on display in most areas of Southern California all year long but most prominently during their nesting months of April, May, June, and July.
Most striking is the brilliant blue when a male Western Bluebird (WEBL) flies through the bright sunshine. When this blue flash is seen in February or March, it is a sure sign that Spring is on the way.
Bluebirds in Southern California
Perhaps you are surprised or even shocked to know that this beautiful yet quiet wild bird has commanded so much attention for so long. Little did I know how long WEBLs had been living in Southern California until I found the following excerpt from two pages in an old Condor magazine.
“In 1892, a pair of bluebirds persisted in trying to nest in a mailbox on the corner of Solano Avenue and Buena Vista Street – now called North Broadway in Los Angeles. In spite of discouragements by the mailman and owner, several eggs were laid before the bluebird pair vacated the site.”
In 1984, Orange-Countian Dick Purvis saw WEBLs nesting in a natural cavity in O’Neill Park. That winter, Dick built ten nestboxes and got permission from the Park Ranger to place them in the park on tree trunks. WEBLs were so interested that they made nests and raised their young in three. Dick added twenty-five more the next year with similar results.
To facilitate emplacing nestboxes high enough to discourage vandals, Dick added a hook on top of the nestbox and created a lifter device of PVC and a wire screen basket that was placed at the end of an 8-foot expandable pool pole. This enabled Dick to hang nest boxes high enough to avoid the spray of sprinklers used in parks, golf courses, and cemeteries which are prime habitats for WEBLs.
The Joy of Monitoring
In 1997, I met Dick, and he gave me a nestbox trail of 19 nestboxes to monitor. In 2007, we co-founded the Southern California Bluebird Club (SCBC), which has been successful in increasing the population of WEBLs dramatically every year since. For more information, see the SCBC website at socalbluebirds.org.
Though SCBC membership has risen each year, and the number of new monitors has increased as well, some successful trails have recently become available due to members moving out of the area. This article is intended to help the SCBC to:
1 – Entice like-minded bird lovers to attend some SCBC meetings and learn about these beautiful birds. The SCBC meets on the first Saturday of every month at the Irvine Ranch Water District Duck Club located at 15 Riparian View, Irvine.
2 – Offer to monitor a segment of a successful trail in North Orange County starting in April of 2024. Yes, a SCBC member will provide help as required.
If interested, feel free to contact the following:
o Bill Wallace – email@example.com – (714) 521-2540
o Bob Franz – firstname.lastname@example.org – (714) 528-5082
o Susan Bulger – email@example.com – (714) 249-0881