On Sunday, October 1, 31 Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) Bluebird monitors gathered at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard under a glorious blue sky for an end-of-year celebration, closing out the 2023 Bluebird season.
Executive Director, Michael Meyers, thanked everyone for their nestbox monitoring. He mentioned that the Bluebird Program had 214 volunteers, which is the most of any of LWC’s programs. Our work over the years has helped to restore and protect bluebirds. Michael happily noted that more bluebirds were sighted in LWC’s annual bird count recently than in any other county in the nation.
Rich Wailes, Bluebird Program data coordinator, shared some highlights from the end-of-year data. The overall bluebird nesting success rate this year was 81.4 percent, which is slightly above the 10-year average for Loudoun County. Fifty-two percent of the 47 trails reporting their data as of September 28 saw increases over last year in the number of bluebirds fledged. Trail monitors reported nearly 1300 bluebirds fledged this year, and nearly 2700 cavity nesters (bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, and chickadees) fledged in total from our 693 nestboxes.
As in prior years, our monitors encountered many house sparrows on some of our trails. Several monitors talked about devices they installed on boxes to deter these invasive birds. Jason Gulosh, a monitor on the Belmont Green and 50 West Winery trails used monofilament fishing line to protect his boxes from house sparrows. He reported the bluebirds did not avoid the boxes but the house sparrows did. Keith Nusbaum, the trail leader on the Lovettsville trail, used a “sparrow spooker” device, which he showed us.
Lisa McKew, Bluebird Program education and help desk coordinator, gave the history of the Zephaniah trail, as well as a short history of the beautiful farm property.
The Bluebird Monitoring Program leadership team will convene within the next few months to discuss “lessons learned” from this season and prepare for the 2024 season.