From Out of the Blue
I was up monitoring nest boxes on the Vredenburgh Trail on Monday.
The Trail starts at the end of the pavement on North Wenas Road
(past Wenas Lake) and continues to the intersection of Durr Road
outside of Ellensburg. This trail (now with 132 nest boxes) was
launched by Yakima Valley Audubon members in 1982 and in 1994
was named in honor of Harold and Virginia Vredenburgh. They were
on hand in the beginning of the trail and devoted countless hours in
maintaining, extending and improving it. Since its inception, over
10,000 bluebirds have fledged from these nest boxes.
Our cool spring has resulted in a slow start for the cavity nesters on
the trail. In a "normal" year, the Memorial Day weekend yields a wide
variety of nesting stages. This year's delayed start has, to a degree,
compressed everyone into the same progress niche...eggs and young
The egg count total was 184 with 252 nestlings packed into the boxes.
In addition, 26 females were found incubating/brooding meaning even
more eggs and chicks were hidden from view.
Nestlings in only three or four boxes appeared to be developed enough
to fledge in the next few days. I'm hoping today's rain has not hampered
the bug supply necessary to feed all those hungry babies!
The trail has fourteen empty boxes. One Mountain Chickadee, one
White-breasted Nuthatch and three Tree Swallows are also using the
nest boxes on the trail. In addition, seven House Wrens (total down
considerably from recent years) and one House Sparrow nests were
A car with four occupants stopped while I was checking Box 112. They
were eager to investigate what I was doing and the clutch of five cute
Mountain Bluebirds a day or so from fledging was a real hit for these
visitors from Norway. The driver, a young man in his late twenties,
proudly admitted to be the birder of the four; the others were, I assumed,
his wife and the parents of one of them. The birder motioned to the
shrub steppe around us and proclaimed, " This is heaven!" Guess
they don't get many bluebirds in Norway.
I gave them a copy of YVAS's Wildlife Guide and, as they indicated
they left family in Seattle, encouraged them to consider stopping at
the Wenas Campground or driving through the Yakima River Canyon
for a stop at the Umtanum Creek Recreation Area (sites 26 and 7,
respectively in your guide). The photo of the White-headed Wood-
pecker caught the birder's eye while his wife wanted to know if we
really had Big Horned Sheep here.
Hope their family was ready to do dinner on their own.
Birding the Blue,
R. A. Repp
Rich the Bluebird Snitch
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