Nextbox cleaning is now in full swing and we are adding up the data we have gathered!


Our AGM will be at the end of October! plan to come and learn and grow with us!


Mountain Bluebirds are a surpise and wonder! come and learn more!!

Mountain Bluebird Trails

Conservation Society


The Mountain Bluebird Trails Conservation Society (MBTCS), serving Southern Alberta,  has been active for over forty years.
Started by the late Duncan Mackintosh, members have been successful in in increasing the population of Mountain Bluebirds nesting in southern Alberta.

With countless volunteer hours, several thousand bluebird boxes have been constructed, installed on fence posts, and maintained every year to provide nesting sites for bluebirds. We invite you to volunteer as a monitor, or join our box making and maintenance team, or support us financially, to help maintain and grow the Mountain Bluebird population!

Mountain Bluebird Trails

Conservation Society


Restoring the range of the Mountain Bluebird in southern Alberta has been a success. The dwindling
number of birds was and still is partially due to predation and the impact of people on the
landscape.

Adverse weather and abundance of ground dwelling insects, their
main food source, are two natural factors that also affect bluebird populations. When nesting, the
Mountain Bluebird must compete with a number of species of birds such as the introduced English
Sparrow and the native Tree Swallow which will take over their nests.

You can make a donation to our Society to help us build and maintain the boxes.
Mountain Bluebird Trails Conservation Society is registered with the Canada
Revenue Agency. All donations of $20 or more will be acknowledged with a tax
receipt. All spending directly benefits the bluebirds! Make a donation on Canada
Helps.

Vision and Direction


Restore and Create Habitat

Mountain Bluebird Trails Conservation  Society( MBTCS) as a group is dedicated  to studying, and helping restore the natural range of the Mountain Bluebird in southern Alberta.

To support their ability to remain sustainable, we provide nesting habitats, sized to birds the size of a mountain bluebird, to replace loss of nesting sites due to land clearing, or  other habitat changes. We also monitor numbers of live births and have in the past banded and tracked thousands of birds. We build boxes and create safe bluebird homes, from north of Nanton to the US border and along our foothills and rivers, and support development of a Trans Continental Bluebird Trail of migration.

Conservation

MBTCS was once faced with dwindling numbers of mountain Bluebirds. Natural factors like our adverse weather conditions, unreliable insect food sources and changing predators – such as increasing raccoon, hawk and increased human presence. This have made the gentle bluebird an easy target. Together with Alberta Parks and Wildlife, researchers from Calgary Zoo and Waterton National Park, MBTCS volunteers are working hard to determine the best methods to protect and provide better prospects for survival, and we are slowly seeing improvement.

Education and Communication

MBTCS -Lethbridge, together with Monitors in Medicine Hat/ Cypress hills area, Pincher Creek/Oldman river  as well as the Calgary Bluebird Monitors, collect numbers, information and photos of what is happening on our trails!

The wonderful guides written by Myrna Pearman of Ellis Bird Farm, help us identify the correct ages and stages.

MBTCS newsletters are a great resource for keep up with Current learnings. Your emails and comments are welcome both to our website , and our Facebook page.

Partnerships

Birds of a feather flock together- and this has never been truer in the terms of the support system that helps keep MBTCS going! We not only enjoy learning from other Bluebird international associations, but we rely heavily on good information from Ellis Bird Farm, near Lacombe, AB. We have generously been given funds and tools from Lethbridge Community Foundation ( nest box construction materials and GPS trail management equipment), Shell Oil –  Pincher Creek –( our computer and printer, banding pliers and more)  Pincher Creek Co-op (Many sheets of plywood),  Work Bee teams- Goldie Weeks, Ric Swihart, our own executive and so many more too numerous to mention. Thank you so much to all Contributors and Volunteers for the hours and expertise you give us. It is gratefully received and put to good use!

Signs and sounds


After working the fence line for some time, the Mountain Bluebird may disappear over the next ridge or clump of trees, leaving behind a soft warbling song. It has a louder song, which is heard most often in pre-dawn hours, during the breeding season.


Habits and Habitat

The Mountain Bluebird’s preferred habitat is sparsely treed grasslands. They require cavities for nesting. During winter, Mountain Bluebirds travel in flocks, often with Western Bluebirds and Sparrows, and feed on insects and small fruit, such as mistletoe, hackberry, and currants.

They typically begin to move north in March, but often arrive in northern latitudes when snow still blankets much of the ground and temperatures still dip below -20°C. These hardy birds can usually withstand short spells of cold and stormy weather; however, during prolonged severe conditions they may freeze or starve to death. Mountain Bluebirds sometimes migrate alone but more often travel in flocks of up to 50 birds (rarely up to 200). They travel during the day at a leisurely pace, stopping frequently to feed.

They can sometimes be seen strung like brilliant blue jewels along a barbed wire fence, scanning bare patches of ground for weed seeds and dead insects. Highly aggressive birds, they usually sit at least a metre apart. There is a continual flashing of blue, as first one and then another leaves its perch momentarily to pick up a tasty morsel.

Feeding and Breeding


Like other thrushes, Mountain Bluebirds are ground-feeders and eat mostly insects. Where elevated perches are not readily available, particularly near nest sites, the Mountain Bluebird will obtain most of its food by hovering in the air a metre or more above the ground in a hawk-like manner, as it searches the earth below for food. Other members of the thrush family do not use this hovering technique.

Before the tail end of the migration has passed through, resident Mountain Bluebirds have fanned out over areas with suitable nesting habitat. Sparsely treed grasslands, wooded ravines and valleys, badlands, and mountains all meet the nesting requirements of Mountain Bluebirds, but they tend to avoid treeless plains.

The males often arrive first, and waste little time in searching out suitable nesting sites: woodpecker excavations and decayed cavities in trees are used where available.  In built-up areas, they move into machinery, nooks and crannies in buildings, fence-posts, and utility poles. Recently, the birdhouse has become an important nesting site.

Once the male has found cavities to his liking, he entices a prospective mate to inspect them. The male goes in and out of each cavity, fluttering excitedly about the female and calling continually, all in an effort to have her accept the site. This exuberant display may last, off and on, for hours or even days, until a female finally condescends to try out the cavity for size. She decides whether to accept or reject the site.

After a nest site is agreed upon, both birds defend the immediate area. They  build the nest of dry grass stems and finer plant material, while continuously watching and guarding the new site against intruders. This process may take any where from two days to more than a week.

Soon after completing the nest, the female lays one egg each day until the clutch, usually with four to six eggs, is complete. Occasionally there are up to eight eggs in a clutch.

Unique characteristics


When elevated perches are not available, the Mountain Bluebird, unlike other members of the thrush family, will obtain most of its food by hovering in the air a metre or more above the ground in a hawk-like manner, as it searches the earth below for food.

Ages and Stages


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Sounds of a bluebird


Mountain Bluebird (song)
Mountain Bluebird (song)
Mountain Bluebird (call)