Western Bluebird Fall 2013

Western Bluebird Fall 2013
Western Bluebird Nesting Box Project
Shannon Breen, Morag Keegan-Henry, Cortney Fraser, Jessie Bell & Misha Warbanski
University of Victoria
(Klinkenberg, 2011)
A Restoration Project for ES 341
Ecological Restoration
Dr. Eric Higgs
November 26, 2013
Table of Contents
Table of Contents ................................................................................................................................................. 1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................... 2 Background Information ................................................................................................................................... 3 Site Description ........................................................................................................................... 3 Site Surveys ........................................................................................................................................................................ 4 Reference Ecosystem ..................................................................................................................................................... 8 Site History and Related Disturbances .................................................................................................................. 8 Novel Ecosystems ........................................................................................................................................................... 9 Site Improvements ...................................................................................................................................................... 10 Species Profile .......................................................................................................................... 11 Threats....................................................................................................................................... 12 Restoration Continuity .............................................................................................................. 16 Landscape Connectivity ............................................................................................................ 16 Stakeholders .............................................................................................................................. 18 Goals and Objectives ........................................................................................................................................ 18 Vision ........................................................................................................................................ 18 Goals ......................................................................................................................................... 18 Objectives ................................................................................................................................. 19 Restoration Plan ................................................................................................................................................ 20 Implementation Plan ................................................................................................................. 20 Maintenance Plan ...................................................................................................................... 24 Ecological Monitoring Plan and Data Collection ..................................................................... 25 Observational Data Collection ................................................................................................................................ 25 Other Monitoring Recommendations .................................................................................................................. 25 Monitoring Methods ................................................................................................................................................... 26 Supervision and Safety ............................................................................................................. 27 Budget ................................................................................................................................................................... 27 Nest Boxes ................................................................................................................................ 27 Monitoring and Volunteer Materials ........................................................................................ 28 Funding Plan ............................................................................................................................. 29 Evaluating Project Success ............................................................................................................................. 29 1. Ecological ............................................................................................................................. 29 2: Engagement .......................................................................................................................... 29 3: Knowledge Base ................................................................................................................... 30 Adaptive Management .................................................................................................................................... 30 References ........................................................................................................................................................... 34 Appendices .......................................................................................................................................................... 39 A. Funding Sources ................................................................................................................... 39 B. Stakeholders and Contacts ................................................................................................... 40 C. Bird Box Plans ..................................................................................................................... 42 D. Monitoring Data Sheets ....................................................................................................... 44 1 Introduction
Garry Oak ecosystems have been devastated by urbanization and other landscape
conversions. Interest in restoring this endangered habitat has grown because of its historic
importance to First Nation communities, as well as its contribution to west coast biodiversity.
Western bluebirds were common in this ecosystem through the 1950, but were extirpated from
Vancouver Island by 1995. The University of Victoria (UVic) is making efforts to recover Garry
Oak meadows on campus, with ongoing planning for the Alumni Meadow although formal
agreements are not yet in place. A large institution with ample green space, the UVic community
has a unique opportunity to assist the recovery of the Western bluebird by considering its needs
in the context of campus planning, as well as by taking a leading role in informing public policy
on urban planning and ecological integrity. The official campus plan expired in 2013 and is
currently being revised. This will set the trajectory for institutional priorities into the future. The
recovery of a Western bluebird breeding population may seem a distant reality, but, given the
nature of planning, it is imperative that future habitat needs of the iconic bird be considered now.
This report therefore aims to identify the possibilities for Western bluebird recovery on campus
in a user-friendly document that can apply to a range of small-scale habitat improvement projects.
This is an opportunity to reimagine the relationship between human and natural
communities and to help to secure the future of an important avian insectivore. Avian insectivore
populations have declined by 50 percent since the 1970s (North American Bird Conservation
Initative, 2012), which has cascading effects throughout the entire food web. A lack of birds can
lead to insect infestations, which can lead to the damage of forests and agricultural crops with
severe economic impacts. Therefore, insectivorous birds such as the bluebird improve ecosystem
function and ecosystem services. Furthermore, the bluebird is culturally associated with the
Garry Oak ecosystem. The restoration of the Western bluebird may contribute to the ongoing
restoration of Garry Oak ecosystems in
The Challenge:
the southern Vancouver Island area.
Improve habitat quality on the University
Bluebirds are still irregular visitors to the
of Victoria Campus so that it is hospitable
Greater Victoria area (Klinkenberg,
to Western bluebirds, and establish a long2012); therefore, we believe that, with
term commitment from stakeholders in
continued habitat improvement efforts,
Victoria to ensure the future success of this
bluebirds are likely to return.
initiative.
2 Background Information
Western bluebirds live at the edges of woods and in open woodlands, such as those found
in a Garry Oak ecosystem. Garry Oak ecosystems are among the rarest ecosystems in Canada,
and the areas that they occupy continue to decline (GOERT, 2011). This current status of Garry
Oak ecosystems in Canada results from habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and habitat
degradation (GOERT, 2011). Garry Oak Meadows occur in patches within the Coastal DouglasFir biogeoclimatic zone as a result of climatic, edaphic, and cultural factors (GOERT, 2011).
Significant losses of these ecosystems have occurred because of agricultural and urban
development (GOERT, 2011). The understories of these rock outcrop communities now often
contain an extensive cover of invasive alien species such as Scotch Broom, agronomic grasses,
and other weeds.
Figure 1: Map of Present Distribution of Gary Oak Ecosystems in British Columbia
(GOERT 2011)
Site Description
All sites for this restoration project are located on the UVic campus, on southern
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, within the Saanich and Oak Bay municipalities. This area
experiences a moderate climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
3 Figure 2: Map of Site locations 1, 2, & 3
Site Surveys
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast was used to identify plants in site survey (Pojar &
Mackinnon 2004)
1st Site Survey – SW UVic Garry Oak Meadow
Wednesday October 9, 2013. 10 a.m.
Weather – Sunny ~ 12o
Figure 3: Map of Site 1 - SW UVic Garry Oak Meadow
4 Table 1: Plant Species List of SW UVic Garry Oak Meadow
Common Name
Latin Name
Bracken Fern
Pteridium aquilinum
Big Leafed Maple
Acer macrophyllum
Daphne*
Daphne laureola
Douglas Fir
Pseudotsuga menziesii,
English Hawthorn*
Crataegus laevigata
English Holly*
Ilex aquifolium
English Ivy*
Hedera helix
Garry Oak
Quercus garryana
Himalayan Blackberry*
Rubus armeniacus
Indian Plum
Oemleria cerasiformis
Kentucky bluegrass
Poa pratensis
Nootka Rose
Rosa nutkana
Orchard grass
Dactylis glomerata
Red Hawthorn
Crataegus mollis
Red-osier Dogwood
Cornus stolonifera
Scotch Broom*
Cytisus scoparius
Snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus
Sweet vernal grass
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Trailing Blackberry
Rubus ursinus
* Introduced or Invasive
5 Figure 4 : Photo of Site 1 – SW Corner of UVic
6 2nd Site Survey – UVic Alumi Garry Oak Meadow
Wednesday October 9, 2013. 1 p.m.
Weather – Sunny ~ 15o
Figure 5 : Map of Site 2 - Alumni Garry Oak Meadow
3rd Site Survey – Space behind Undergrad House 4 (UH4)
Wednesday October 9, 2013. 2 p.m.
Weather – Sunny ~ 15o
Figure 6: Map of Site 3 – Behind UH4
7 Table 2: Plant Species List of UH4 site
Common Name
Latin Name
Bracken Fern
Pteridium aquilinum
Big Leafed Maple
Acer macrophyllum
Douglas Fir
Pseudotsuga menziesii,
English Holly*
Ilex aquifolium
Himalayan Blackberry*
Rubus armeniacus
Snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus
Oceanspray
Holodiscus discolor
*Introduced or Invasive
Reference Ecosystem
When planning a restoration project it is important to use a reference site. (National Parks
Directorate, 2008, p. 59) It is especially important to use a reference site because many invasive
alien plant species dominate Garry Oak ecosystems (GOERT, 2011). The Garry Oak Meadow at
the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve (CGOP) is situated 6 km east of Duncan, BC and has been the
focus of intensive restoration since the late 1990s (GOERT, 2013). We chose the CGOP as our
reference site because it is one of the most intact Garry oak woodland meadows on Vancouver
Island (GOERT, 2013).
Site History and Related Disturbances
The planned restoration sites are located on the southwest and southeast corners of the
UVic campus. The UVic campus lies in the traditional territory of the Lekwungen or Songhees
Nation. These peoples played an important role in managing the landscape through traditional
land management practices such as burning and the selective harvesting of root vegetables such
as camas (Hague, Fehr, Griffin, Chaboyer & Gomes, 2009). In 1858, the campus lands were
acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company and traditional land management practices were
replaced by more domesticated techniques of farming. Since then this area has been seeded with
agronomic grass species and was used for hay (Hague et al., 2009). The greatest impact on Garry
Oak Ecosystems has been development, habitat fragmentation, invasive species and the
discontinuation of traditional management practices (GOERT, 2011).
8 In May 2003, UVic’s campus plan included a 10-year moratorium on any development in
natural areas outside of Ring Road including Sites 1 and 2. However, Site 3 is outside the zone of
protection (UVic, 2004, p. 1). Discussions for a new campus plan are set to begin fall of 2014.
Students have already started to actively gather new ideas around sustainability and are hoping to
ensure the current areas under the moratorium become permanently protected (Theissen, 2013).
Table 3: Common Native Plant Tree and Shrub Species in Garry Oak Ecosystem and Native
Species found at Sites 1, 2 and 3.
Native Plant Species
Site 1
Site 2
Garry Oak
X
X
Douglas Fir
X
X
Site 3
Tree Layer
X
Shrub Layer
Common Snowberry
X
Indian Plum
X
Nootka Rose
X
Oceanspray
X
X
Tall Oregon Grape
X
Western Trumpet
X
Novel Ecosystems
Novel Ecosystems are ecosystems that develop from a historical ecosystem due to
disturbance. This disturbance causes changes in species composition. As the composition of the
ecosystem changes, so does the function of the ecosystem. When the function and/or
composition of the ecosystem is no longer the same as the historical and cannot be completely
restored, it is now considered a novel ecosystem (Hobbs, Higgs, & Harris, 2009). After human
caused disturbances, in particular, the influence of agricultural farming practices combined with
the introduction of exotic species have greatly impacted the composition of the Garry Oak
ecosystem on UVic campus. This ecosystem has retained characteristics of the historic system
but its composition or function now lies outside the historic range (Hobbs et al., 2009). The
Garry Oak Meadow located on the UVic campus is considered a novel ecosystem.
9 Site Improvements
Site improvements for the Garry Oak
Ecosystems on the UVic campus should include
the removal and control of invasive species,
planting of native plant species to improve habitat
quality, and the assessment and maintenance of
wildlife trees on campus. Invasive species of
concern are English Ivy, English Hawthorn,
Scotch Broom, and Agronomic grasses. Performing a prescribed burn on the site
would remove most unwanted grasses and allow
for suitable growing conditions for Common
Camas and Great Camas. Due to the surrounding
houses of the site location, however, there are
concerns of fire safety, and thus this is not
permitted by the fire department.
Figure 7 : Invasives at site 1 –
Agronomic grasses , English
Hawthorn, and Scotch Broom
Allowing the grasses to grow without mowing
would allow for a better habitat for the Western
bluebirds. However this may be a point of contention
with neighbours due to increased pollen, a common
allergen.
In order for UVic to better house Western
bluebirds, more nesting spots must become available.
With the addition of bluebird boxes, UVic must also
keep and maintain Wildlife tree availability for these
birds to use. A wildlife tree is any standing dead or live
tree with special characteristics that provide valuable
habitat for the conservation or enhancement of wildlife
(Wildlife Tree Committee of British Columbia, 2001).
Figure 8: A Potential Wildlife
tree, UVic SW Garry Oak
Meadow
10 Species Profile
The majestic Western bluebird (Sialia mexicana) is a member of the thrush family,
known for its one-noted song that can usually be heard at dawn (Alderfe, 2006). The male is an
uncommon royal blue with small patches of a rusty red on its chest and back, whereas the female
has more greyish tones with a lighter orange chest and a white ring around her eye (GOERT,
2003). The bird is considered to be medium-small, as it measures approximately 6 ½ - 7” in
length (GOERT, 2003). After one year they reach maturity and are able to reproduce in the May
to July breeding season (Dickinson, Kraaijeveld & Kraaijeveld, 2000). Western bluebirds
maintain long-term pair bonds and although some do partake in extrapair breeding, they are cooperative breeders and share equally in bi-parental care of juveniles (Dickinson et al., 2000).
Western bluebirds tend to nest no closer than 90m apart, with each pair incubating approximately
5-6 eggs (Beauchesne, Chytyk & Cooper, 2002). Juveniles are heavily spotted with white
coloring on their back and dark brown on their chest and some slight grey tones on the edges of
the tertials (Alderfe, 2006). It can take up to 9 weeks after the eggs are laid for juveniles to be
completely independent from their parents (Beauchesne et al., 2002).
The Western bluebird’s traditional habitat stretched from Southwestern Canada to
Northern Mexico (Alderfe, 2006). Including historic breeding sites throughout the Georgia
Depression (See Figure 9) (Beauchesne et al. 2002). Conservation groups such as GOERT
(2011) report the bird was extirpated from Vancouver Island by mid 1990s, and as of 2010 the
Georgia Depression population is red-listed by the Ministry of Environment (B.C. Conservation
Data Centre, 2013). But, due to recovery efforts through GOERT hopefully the next analysis will
result with this sub-population joining other Western bluebird populations as yellow listed;
moving status from extirpated, endangered, or threatened to apparently secure (Ministry of
Environment, 2013). Depending on the region of
residence some will migrate short distances and others
may be year round residents. They are second-cavitynesters and breed in semi-open habitats, such as Garry
Oak and Ponderosa Pine Ecosystems, farms, pastures,
and burned or logged forests, which include low perches
allowing easy access the understory for hunting insects
(Kozma & Kroll, 2010, p. 87). These habitats are located
within the Georgia Depression, anywhere between 30600 meters in elevation (GOERT, 2003). Adults consume
mostly larvae but when taking care of nestlings their food
patterns change and can also include other insects, fruits,
and seeds (Herlugson, 1983). When hunting, Western
bluebirds mainly hover in a stationary position 1-10
Figure 9: Map of former breeding
locations, (Alderfe, 2006)
11 meters above the ground until prey is spotted, they then fly to the ground to try and capture it.
This is a continual sequence called the hover-foraging method (Herlugson, 1983, p. 58).
However, other hunting methods have been witnessed, such as gleaning insects from vegetation
and the pursuit of prey along the ground (GOERT, 2003).
Threats
Threats to Western bluebirds on the UVic campus include predation, competition (for
food and for habitat), a lack of food, cold weather, chemicals, windows, human disturbances, and
loud noises.
Predators of the Western bluebird present on Vancouver Island include Cooper’s Hawk
(Accipiter cooperii), cats (Felis catus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), grey squirrels (Sciurus
carolinensis) garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana),
ermine (Mustela ermine), Northwestern crows (Corvus caurinus), common ravens (Corvus
corax) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus) (Wightman, 2009, p. 249; Slater & Altman,
2011, p. 228). Predation is a problem for both young and adult birds, but it is the main cause of
death for nestlings (Sullivan, 1989, p. 275).
One of the most serious threats to Western bluebirds comes from domesticated and feral
cats. In an experiment on San Juan Island, house cats killed at least one breeding female, and
many sources emphasize the risk to both adults and young of a significant population of cats
(Slater & Altman 2011, p. 28; Beauchesne et al., 2002, p. ii, 13). Beauchesne et al. (2002, p.13)
suggest implementing an active program to control the population of feral cats in association
with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). However, this may have
significant public opposition, and does not deal with the problem of domestic cats. Our suggested
solution is to place the nest boxes on poles that are at least 6 feet in the air, so that domestic cats
cannot jump high enough to reach them. If this proves insufficient, we will place predator guards
around the poles so that they cannot be climbed (Beauchesne et al., 2002, p. 13; Bluebirds of San
Diego County, n.d.; Shaw Creek Bird Supply, 2003). These actions will also help to address the
threat from raccoons, snakes, opossums, squirrels, and ermine.
The threats to adult bluebirds from hawks, crows, and ravens are less easily addressed.
Short of reducing the population of these species, many of which are valued by the public, there
is very little we can do except ensure that there is plenty of scrub in which the bluebirds can hide.
House sparrows are another serious threat, both breaking eggs and killing adult females
in the San Juan case (Slater & Altman, 2011, p. 228). One way to minimize house sparrow
attacks is to set up sparrow spookers. More active management, such as removal of sparrow
nests and trapping of adult sparrows, has also been suggested by a variety of sources, but falls
outside of this project’s scope (Bluebirds of San Diego County, n.d; Bet, 2013). A third
management option is to place nest boxes farther away from houses, where house sparrows are
less likely to be a problem (Slater & Altman, 2011, p. 229). Our locations have thus been chosen
to, insofar as possible, avoid possible problem areas. Given that English sparrows are a
12 naturalized alien species, however, resource intensive management efforts are not likely to be
successful.
A final management option for predators is to build large aviaries to protect bluebirds
from predators until they have started breeding. This approach was undertaken at the start of the
San Juan project and in the Vancouver Island project. They later found that attempting to skip
this step led to greatly increased losses due to predation (Slater & Altman, 2011, p. 229). Due to
budgetary and equipment restraints, this project will focus on improving survivorship by
improving habitat quality in order to offset mortality from predators, rather than on measures
such as this.
The second major threat to Western bluebirds lies in competition for habitat and for food.
“Bluebirds that experience aggressive contests over a nest box may leave an area altogether
rather than stay in what they perceive to be a suboptimal location” (Wetzel & Krupa, 2013, p.
405). Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, and potentially compete with five other species of
birds: house wrens, Bewick’s wrens, violet-green swallows, European starlings, and house
sparrows. House wrens have not been observed on campus, and have only rarely been observed
in the Victoria area; therefore, they are not a serious threat (Harrop-Archibald, 2007, p. 70;
Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS), 2008). Bewick’s Wren is not aggressive in nesting
behavior, and at least one study argues that “the habitat characteristics of bluebirds and Bewick’s
wrens are different” (Pogue & Carter 1995, p. 172). Violet-Green Swallows are present on
campus, and have been observed taking over bluebird nests when acting in large groups (HarropArchibald, 2007, p. 70; Brawn, 1990, p. 606). Thus, they pose a measurable threat to bluebirds
when there is a lack of habitat. However, with the addition of sufficient nest boxes that the
swallows also have habitat, we can avoid the two species being in competition. Violet-green
swallows have also been observed cooperating with Western bluebirds to feed bluebird young
and defend the nests from other birds in situations where the original swallow nests fail, so they
may actually prove to be an asset in protecting Western bluebirds (Eltzroth & Robinson, 1984, p.
259-261). Violet-green swallows may therefore also be an important bird protected and enhanced
by our project. European starlings are a major source of competition, and are possibly
responsible for the decline of Western bluebirds in central Washington (Kozma & Kroll, 2010).
They are present on campus in large numbers (Harrop-Archibald 2007, p. 70). Building our nest
boxes with 1 ½ inch entrance holes will help to limit the ability of starlings to take over nests
(Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project, 2002). Both house sparrows and European starlings are
invasive species, so active management approaches involving trapping and removing nests may
be indicated in future stages of this project, despite the possible public relations problem.
“Sparrow spookers,” a device which involves strips of material (usually mylar) which flutter in
the wind and scare away sparrows, could also help to avoid competition and predation from
house sparrows, if this becomes a future problem (Bet, 2013). If bluebirds return but do not nest
due to competition from these other birds, we may have to move nest boxes at least 60 metres
away from the edge of the meadow (GOERT, 2012, p. 1)
13 Food shortages can arise from competition over scarce resources, but also as a result of
limited habitat. This is another major limiting factor in the ability of Western bluebirds to thrive
(Yackel Adams, Skagen, & Savidge, 2006). Food competitors present on campus in large
numbers include Violet-green swallows, tree swallows, red-breasted nuthatches and chestnutcapped chickadees (Beauchesne et al., 2002, p. 11; Harrop-Archibald, 2007, p. 70). This could
be interpreted in two ways. First, the presence of these birds implies that there is a sufficient food
supply to sustain the Western bluebirds. On the other hand, established competitor populations
may out-compete bluebirds for foraging opportunities. One solution to this problem is to provide
mealworms to supplement the diet of the birds (Slater & Altman, 2011). This is particularly
crucial when the young are juveniles, as the point when adult birds stop feeding their young is
the time when most juveniles starve (Sullivan, 1989, p. 275).
Another major threat to Western bluebirds is cold weather. At least three studies have
found that excessively cold weather has been a contributing factor to decreasing populations of
songbirds in various areas (Wetzel & Krupa, 2013; Slater & Altman, 2011; Sullivan, 1989). This
is partly due to the sensitivity of nestlings to exposure to cold, which can be solved by ensuring
that our nest boxes face away from prevailing winds (McLochlin, 2007). However, it is also due
to a lack of food. While the young are still nestlings, in cold weather, the adults lose the ability to
forage as effectively because insects may become inactive, and this can lead to nestling death
(Beauchesne et al., 2002, p.7). Similarly, during storms, juveniles can find themselves unable to
forage effectively enough to avoid starvation (Sullivan, 1989, p. 283). Thus, an effective ongoing
management plan will include supplying extra food during periods of bad weather in order to
reduce mortality rates. This plan includes provisions to supply mealworms during the entirety of
the nesting season, in order to maximize bluebird survival.
Pesticide use is problematic for reintroducing bluebirds, as “the use of pesticides may
also have contributed to declines [in bluebird populations] in coastal areas” (Beauchesne et al.,
2002, p.iii). Grounds management has used Safer Soap, Glyphosate, Resmethrin, Trillium, and
Malithion within the last ten years (Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability (OCPS), 2011).
While Safer Soap and Glyphosate are both low in toxicity to birds and wildlife, Resmethrin and
Malithion are both moderately toxic (College of Agricultural Sciences, 2013; Extension
Toxicology Network, 1993).
Table 4: Pesticide use on campus 2006-2010 (OCPS, 2011)
14 However, as this table shows, UVic is making a concerted effort to reduce pesticide use
and to ensure that the pesticides that are used are as safe as possible (OCSP, n.d.). The goal in
the campus plan is to “Eliminate toxic chemicals from routine landscape management by 2012,”
(UVic, 2009) and while this has not been achieved, they continue to attempt zero pesticide use
(OCSP, n.d.). Therefore, while some minor amounts of toxic chemicals are being used on the
grounds, it is unlikely that these quantities will prove any more dangerous to the birds than the
amounts used anywhere else.
Another major threat to bird populations is the presence of windows. One source argues
that unintentional killings through windows represent “the largest human-associated source of
avian mortality except habitat destruction” (Klem, 2009, p. 314). Last February, an undergrad
student pointed out the dangers of the large numbers of windows on the University of Victoria
campus for a variety of bird species. She proposed that the most strike-heavy windows be
covered with a special marker, which looks like rows of dots on the glass and does not impede
the view, but does stop birds from flying into the windows. She was met with resistance from
Facilities Management, but it is not clear whether or not there has been any movement towards
implementing such a project (Wong & Werman, 2013). Including this solution into our
restoration project would greatly increase the scope of this project, but it is something to be kept
in mind for future iterations of the project. In the mean time, it seems likely that despite the
dangers posed by the many windows on campus, the area where nest boxes are to be placed is
distanced enough that they will pose merely an acceptable risk.
Placing the bluebird nest boxes in areas of high human traffic poses a risk that the birds
will be too disturbed to nest properly. While site 1 is heavily used, site 2 is fenced off and sees
little human disturbance, as does site 3. However, at least one survey has found that while human
disturbance causes short-term changes to nesting bird behaviour, there are no long term
consequences for the success of the nests (Smith-Castro & Rodewald 2010, p. 130-138). Another
source argues that Western bluebirds can “tolerate some human disturbance” (Beauchesne et al.,
2002). Thus, while less human disturbance is certainly preferable, our hope is that Western
bluebirds will be able to nest in these areas anyway.
A final threat to bluebirds is loud noises. Anthropogenic noise may cause more infertile
eggs to be lain, those eggs to develop badly, or increased immune infections in both young and
adult birds (Kight, Saha, & Swaddle, 2012). The Garry Oak Meadow is located between two
fairly well-used roads, and therefore there is a risk of loud noises affecting our population. On
the other hand, these effects are relatively minor in a low-density residential neighbourhood, and
thus will not be addressed in this project. The noise issue could be at least partially addressed
through habitat improvement efforts in future projects, such as planting more trees and shrubs on
the meadow edges, but this is again outside the scope of this project.
Thus, while there are many threats on the UVic campus, including predators, competition
for habitat, a lack of food, cold weather, pesticides, windows, human activities, and noise, a
15 coherent adaptive management plan can address all of these issues in meaningful ways, making
this a suitable habitat.
Restoration Continuity
Our nest box plan for UVic builds on progress made by two major species restoration
plans for Western bluebirds in the Pacific Northwest; one on Vancouver Island in the Nature
Conservancy of Canada's Cowichan Preserve and another in Washington's San Juan Islands.
The San Juan Islands Western bluebird reintroduction plan ran for five years, from 2007
to 2011. The San Juan project prioritized habitat preservation (conserving 376 acres), nest box
building, and actively reintroducing breeding pairs from Fort Lewis, Washington. In 2012, the
San Juan team reported 13 pairs of nesting adults, as well as increasing numbers of young female
birds returning to the area; both signs that the population will become self-sustaining. So far the
project has yielded 238 fledglings, along with 38 returning adults, (including the 13 breeding
pairs). Project volunteers have installed 600 nest boxes across ten islands (San Juan Preservation
Trust, 2013).
GOERT led a similar re-introduction program on Vancouver Island in 2011. These
intensive efforts are taking place in an already-protected deep soil Garry Oak meadow. They are
also encouraging area residents to consider putting nestboxes in their yards. As of October 2013,
the Vancouver Island population includes 14 adults and 31 young. A female from the San Juan
population was also spotted, an indication that immigration between the two populations is once
again possible (GOERT, 2013).
The Southern tip of Vancouver Island is part of an important bird migration corridor.
Crossing the Juan de Fuca strait requires intense energy output. In Metchosin, Rocky Point
(owned by the Department of National Defense), is the closest point of land to Washington, and
is an important stopover site for resting and feeding. Migration between the recovering bluebird
populations has been documented (GOERT, 2013) and is a positive sign, but underscores the
need to protect and restore suitable coastal habitat in order to support long-term population
resilience and gene flow.
Landscape Connectivity
When GOERT was first looking for suitable areas for Western bluebird reintroduction,
the Victoria area was omitted because it was deemed too fragmented for success (GOERT, 2013).
While the deep-soil Garry Oak preserve in the Cowichan Valley is believed to meet the
immediate needs of the birds, an eye on future range must be considered. This nesting box
project represents a short-term goal of improving habitat quality for recovering Western bluebird
populations on the UVic campus, but it encompasses a longer-term goal of increasing both the
number of suitable habitat patches and their connectivity. It is also an opportunity for people in
heavily urbanized Southern Vancouver Island to “re-imagine” the place of nature in humandominated landscapes (Evans, 2007).
16 Changes to land use through urbanization, agriculture, logging and other human activities
has a profound impact on ecosystem function. It has been identified as a major threat to
biodiversity in British Columbia (Biodiversity BC, 2007). Conversion impacts system functions
from air purification and pollination to soil structure and hydrology (Biodiversity BC, 2007).
Development causes the fragmentation of habitat, reducing the effective area available to native
organisms. On Vancouver Island, the Garry Oak bioclimatic zone is considered one of the most
threatened (Biodiversity BC, 2007). Considerable conservation effort is ongoing to protect and
expand remnant Garry Oak habitat by groups including the Habitat Acquisition Trust, the Garry
Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Parks Canada (Fort Rodd Hill), with many cooperating local
governments. Population theory can help us to understand why habitat connectivity across broad
spatial scales is important to species health and should be considered as part of this Western
bluebird nest box plan.
Island biogeography theory tells us that larger islands (isolated equally by open ocean, or
vast swaths of urban concrete) can support larger populations than smaller islands, while islands
closer to a source population will have higher immigration rates than islands that are more
isolated (MacArthur & Wilson, 1967). Linking disparate habitat patches helps increase the
effective area available organisms, as it facilitates dispersal and gene flow between populations.
Wilson’s species-area relationship further generalizes that 50 percent loss of area results in a 10
percent population decline (Wilson, 1992). But as area shrinks below 10 percent of its original
size, populations undergo precipitous decline towards local extinction. With only 5 percent of
intact Garry oak habitat remaining, it is critical to remediate this habitat (GOERT, 2013). Indeed,
about one hundred denizens of the Garry Oak ecosystem are considered at risk (GOERT, 2013).
The ultimate success of Western bluebird reintroduction will depend on increasing the effective
area of suitable habitat.
The probability of a local extinction is positively correlated to habitat isolation (far
island), and negatively related to size (small island). There are several strategies to decrease the
threat of extinction. In order to increase the carrying capacity of a population, either the size of
the habitat or the quality of the habitat must be increased (Baguette, Blanchet, Legrand, Stevens,
& Turlure, 2012). The ability to disperse is integral to the fitness. Dispersal is essential to avoid
density dependent effects (disease, increased aggression, etc.), and to maintain gene flow. Small
populations face increased chances of stochastic environmental or demographic events.
Population bottlenecks reduce genetic diversity and cause inbreeding depression. Small, inbred
populations are more prone to disease and have reduced fitness (Kareiva & Marvier, 2010).
Critics have cited a “dearth of evidence” that habitat corridors work (Baguette, et al.,
2012). But a literature review found wildlife corridors are strategic tools for urban planners and
ecologists (Evans, 2007). We recognize that uncertainty exists within this field. This underlines
the need for robust monitoring efforts, including an evaluation of baseline data on habitat extent
and quality.
Avian populations have the advantage of flight to facilitate dispersal between habitat
patches. A single migrant from established San Juan was documented this summer in the
17 Cowichan valley (GOERT, 2013). Providing new habitat patches for nesting, foraging and
stopover may increase dispersal success, both now and in the future.
Stakeholders
In the UVic area, two groups of stakeholders should always be consulted before
beginning a project. First, we will contact the University itself, to inform the staff of our proposal
and to request input on its viability. Second, we will contact the Songhees First Nation, to make
sure that our proposal meets with their approval. Further community consultation will follow to a
certain degree.
However, our primary goal here is to blend adaptive management and social learning to
provide learning opportunities to the UVic community. In this vein, our stakeholders include
local restoration groups, with whom we will attempt to build a network of motivated individuals;
UVic students, whom we hope to integrate into our monitoring; UVic faculty, whom we hope to
work with to ensure continuity of monitoring; and Gordon Head Elementary staff and faculty,
who will play a role in constructing the bird boxes. (See Appendix B for a complete list of
stakeholders and their suggested roles in this project.)
Problem Statement:
The Western bluebird, formerly an important avian insectivore and secondary cavity nester, has
been reintroduced to Vancouver Island, but there is insufficient habitat to support the recovering
population. Only 5 percent of the Garry Oak Ecosystem remains intact, and the shortage of habitat
will significantly reduce the ability of the bird to recover. Western bluebirds have been observed at
Rocky Point, where nest boxes have been installed by GOERT, and at least one individual has
moved from the San Juans to Cowichan, which implies that individuals may make use of improved
habitat in Victoria for foraging, roosting, and nesting.
Goals and Objectives
Vision
Encourage migrating and breeding Western bluebirds to return to the UVic area.
Goals
1) ECOLOGICAL: Strengthen Garry Oak ecosystem structure and function, through
restoration and conservation, in such a way as to provide habitat for the Western bluebird.
2) ENGAGEMENT: Build community by providing opportunities for both adults and
children to engage with this project, and by connecting with existing restorative efforts to create
a network of motivated and engaged contributors.
3) KNOWLEDGE BASE: Contribute to scientific knowledge about Western bluebirds,
including the effects of habitat connectivity and the effectiveness of restoration projects through
ongoing monitoring.
18 Objectives
1. Ecological
1.1 Build 5 paired nesting boxes on campus in time for the spring 2015 nesting season to
provide habitat for bluebirds
1.2 Support bluebird foraging success by supplying mealworms on an as-needed basis.
1.3 Propose that sites 1, 2, and 3 be included in the updated campus plan as protected area,
as of 2014.
2. Engagement
2.1 Engage the community through four annual events revolving around bluebird boxes
including elementary school field trips, volunteer events, site cleanups, and nest monitoring
2.2 Create a social media campaign both on and offline by writing articles to be
contributed to BC Nature Magazine, the GOERT newsletter, the VNHS newsletter, the
Restoration Network, the Martlet, Essence and creating a Facebook and Twitter presence.
2.3 Establish a working relationship with GOERT to suggest a partnership and to
incorporate their successful strategies into the ongoing project.
2.4 Contact at least 5 other organizations on campus (UVic Sustainability Project (UVSP),
Ecological Restoration Volunteer Club, etc.) and set up networks so that their members can
participate in projects. Involve each group in at least one event by 2017.
2.5 Set up a link with the Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS) Rare Bird line.
3. Knowledge Base
3.1 Ensure ongoing monitoring and public records of the project through 2017.
3.2 Set up an online publicly-accessible database which can be used to record results of
the project and to act as a repository for related research on campus restoration planning
3.3 Incorporate Western bluebird / Garry Oak ecosystem biology into university
curriculum by securing a commitment from UVic departments (Biology, Environmental Studies,
and Restoration of Natural Systems (RNS)) to take on monitoring projects in targeted classes,
and advise on curriculum development.
19 Restoration Plan
Implementation Plan
1. Establish UVic Bluebird club. CommonEnergy UVic has an ongoing call for driven members
willing to develop and take on projects. By establishing a committee as part of CommonEnergy,
we will establish a project presence on campus and ensure that there is institutional backing. As
members of a club under the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) umbrella, we will
also gain access to in-kind resources such as photocopying, email lists, the CommonEnergy
website, meeting space, and their volunteer network. If CommonEnergy is unwilling to
collaborate, then we will apply to the UVSS for status as a club. During this step, we will contact
at least 5 organizations on campus, including the UVSP and the Ecological Restoration
Volunteer Club, in order to create a network of volunteers. We will also contact organizations off
campus and ask them to be partners in this endeavor. These organizations will include GOERT
and the VHNS, which will allow us to link our efforts to GOERT restoration efforts and to the
VHNS Rare Bird contact line.
2. Establish communication strategy. We will create a publicly accessible website with an
infrastructure which will allow us to compile relevant research and our monitoring data, so that
in the long term, our observation data will be available to contribute to longer-term
understandings of bluebird habitat use and migration patterns, and to be used in directed studies,
honours and masters projects. This website will include a list of key contacts, have an embedded
Google Calendar to facilitate coordination of events, and contain a collection of useful form
documents, such as a form letter to potential funding sources and a brief summary of key project
goals and objectives. We will publish monthly updates on this website and simultaneously on our
Facebook and Twitter accounts, to keep the public up to date. We will establish an email address,
[email protected] (password: uvicbluebird). We will create educational materials to
distribute at events. These materials will include short articles which will be submitted at various
stages throughout the project to media sources such as BC Nature Magazine, the GOERT
newsletter, the VNHS newsletter, the Restoration Network, the Martlet, and Essence. We will
also request that researchers who use our information credit our project and email the official
email address, so that we can maintain a list of collaborators. This communication strategy will
be updated and expanded throughout the project.
20 Data Management Plan
1) Creation of a website (publically accessible)
1.1 Interactive mapping of current bird boxes & bluebird sightings.
1.2 Calendar of scheduled events (public consultations, fundraisers,
educational seminars).
1.3 Open forum for discussions about Western bluebirds.
1.4 News section for monthly updates on project status and findings.
1.5 Contact information and details on how to get involved.
1.6 List of stakeholders that are involved and key contacts.
1.7 Database of relevant research, published papers, and useful web links.
1.8 Collection of form documents, including project summary and fundraising
letter.
1.9 Articles submitted to other media sources.
1.10 Detailed compilation of observational data from project.
2) Creation and maintenance of Twitter and Facebook account; to be updated once a
month alongside the website. This will be regular enough to update the public, but
irregular enough to not overwhelm our resources.
3. Contact stakeholders. Since the three parcels of land have passed through competing visions
over the years, we need to develop a coherent, common vision for these spaces to ensure that
there is a context into which our project will fit. Therefore, a series of public consultations will
take place involving the university, the Songhees First Nation, and other interested parties (see
Appendix B). These consultations will take place in concert with planning meetings for the
official campus plan, coordinated through the Office of Sustainability and Campus Planning.
During this process, we will begin informing the public about the importance of preserving this
habitat. Furthermore, we will present our recommendation that this area be preserved in the
updated campus plan. To consult with individual stakeholders, we will send out a form email
which will give a project overview and solicit input on the project. This email can be distributed
through stakeholder networks to increase engagement and opportunities for input. We will
follow up with phone and in-person meetings as required.
As this project will be located on the UVic campus, it seems advisable to consult
specifically with UVic students. Contacting every student through email is impractical and
would require significant support from the university. However, by publishing short articles in
The Martlet and Essence with requests for feedback to be sent to [email protected], we
can receive community feedback with maximum efficiency. Representation during UVSS Clubs
Days will improve our physical presence on campus. Through tabling we will raise awareness of
21 the project, provide an opportunity for students to give us feedback, and increase volunteer
recruitment.
This project is sufficiently limited in scope that we will not consult with other potential
stakeholders, such as the District of Saanich, the District of Oak Bay, or the UVic Alumni
Association, without further indication that such a consultation is necessary.
4. Site Use Permission. Personal communication suggests that Campus Facilities Management in
principle supports installation of nest boxes on campus. The nest box sites are publicly accessible
and no permits are currently required. However, installation must be coordinated with Neal
Connelly, director of UVic’s Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability. We will contact him
at [email protected] The UH4 site is managed by the Environmental Studies department.
Therefore, we will contact them directly at [email protected] to ask permission to install boxes
in that area.
5. Develop Education Collaboration. We will work with UVic departments to integrate the
bluebird project into lab activities and embed it into various class curriculums. We will liaise
with senior lab instructors to establish standard protocols and objectives. The target courses are
listed in Table 5.
Table 5: Class collaboration
Class
BIOL 329, “Biology of the Vertebrates of
British Columbia”
ES 341, “Ecological Restoration”
GEO 327 “Research Methods in Human
Geography”
RNS diploma program
Activty
Spring bird survey
Invasive species removal
Assessment of how the community has
accepted the bluebird project.
Annual habitat site assessment
(See monitoring section for full details).
6. Raise money and awareness through “Beer for Birds” event. We will contact Felicita’s to
arrange an evening where some percentage of cover charge is donated to the bluebird project. At
the same time, we will apply for grants from the sources listed in Appendix A.
7. Site Assessment. Preliminary site assessment has been carried out, but this work has identified
data gaps. There is a need for further baseline data on our target sites before the boxes are
installed. These data include a census of wildlife trees and a census of bird species composition.
We will coordinate a bird census with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory and/or the Victoria
Natural History Society, which will provide a training opportunity for interested volunteers.
22 Further data on the Garry Oak community structure will be collected through an RNS required
field study in the spring of 2014. This plan will then be adapted to fit the new information.
8. Improve Habitat Quality. We will coordinate a volunteer event with the Ecological
Restoration Volunteer Club (coordinator Lexi Fisher), which already organizes ivy pulls around
campus. They will continue the process, begun by ES 341, of removing some of the invasive
plant species from the area. Since invasive grasses are the main issue, prescribed burning would
be the best approach. However, current fire regulations make this unlikely.
9. Build the boxes. We will organize a working bee with Gordon Head Elementary School to
engage students in building 5 paired nest boxes, and engage volunteers through the restoration
network to work with students in order to ensure simultaneous safety and learning. The field trip
will include a presentation on bluebirds, a hike to the site, and the building of boxes. This may
need to be a multi-day process, with one day involving an introduction to the birds and the site,
and a second day involving the building of the boxes. This will also provide an opportunity to
address one of the major threats to the boxes by connecting urban children to the wildlife in their
city, thus addressing the risk of vandalism.
The nest boxes are easily assembled. The nest boxes will be the same design as a general
bird house. The house will have 4 walls, a floor, and a roof. The front wall will have an entrance
hole 1.5 inch in diameter, and one of the side walls will be constructed as a door for the
monitoring and cleaning of the nest box. This door will have hinges at the top and will be held
shut by a galvanized nail at the bottom. (See Appendix C for full assemblage directions)
10. Install the boxes. Through the volunteer network, we will organize a working party to install
the 5 paired nest boxes. Pizza will be provided to encourage participation, and we will order 4
medium pizzas from Palagio. Nesting bluebirds have a large territory and will not likely nest
closer than 90 m apart, but we will install boxes at a higher density and in pairs in order to
provide options and to decrease nest box competition from species such as violet-green swallows.
After completing the site analysis, we confirmed that the UVic SW Garry Oak Meadow,
Alumni Garry Oak Meadow, and a space behind UH4 areas are appropriate habitats for the
Western Bluebird. Therefore we have chosen 5 locations around campus. (See Figure 10)
Table 6: UTM Coordinates of Bluebird Boxes on UVic campus
Location
UTM Coordinate
A
10 U 0476329 5367644
B
10 U 0476321 5367596
23 C
10 U 0476358 5367582
D
10 U 0476581 5367414
E
10 U 0477617 5367651
Figure 10: Map of Proposed locations of nest boxes
When attaching the nest box to the tree or pole, it should be placed as low as possible
while still excluding cats, raccoons, squirrels, and any other land based predator from the nest
box. This will be approximately 5-6 feet (1.5-2 m) above the ground. Prevailing winds and rains
must be taken into consideration, so that the nest box is placed facing away from them. It must
also be situated in such a way that the monitoring door can easily be opened, and so birds can
easily access the front. Ideally a safe perch, in the form of a tree or shrub, will be within 100 feet
(30m) of the front of the box for the birds to use.
Maintenance Plan
1. Before the nesting season: Volunteers will assess nest boxes for damage and cleanliness,
removing debris and making repairs as necessary. They will also remove any inactive nest
material from the boxes, but will not interfere with active nesting by any species. This will be
facilitated through a single working party organized by the club sometime in February, and
volunteers will be encouraged to attend through the provision of Starbucks “Hot Chocolate
travellers.”
2. During the nesting season: Until the first bluebird is sighted, volunteers will make weekly
rounds to determine whether bluebirds have arrived. The bluebird diet will need to be
24 supplemented with daily provision of mealworms once the bluebirds are nesting. Mealworms are
to be provided on an as-needed basis every morning during nesting season as well as in the
evenings during inclement weather (Slater & Altman, 2011, p. 227). They usually amount to
approximately 20 mealworms per individual per day, but the precise amount must be determined
by volunteers on the ground so as to avoid leaving excess mealworms for competitors (Slater &
Altman, 2011, p. 227). Mealworms should be placed in open areas around the nesting boxes, and
then observed to ensure that all are taken. Once bluebirds stop collecting mealworms, the
volunteers must collect those remaining. Because of the importance and sensitivity of this task,
volunteers will be carefully selected to ensure that they can commit to long term provision of
mealworms. This project will continue from the first sighting of nesting bluebirds until 2017.
Medium-sized mealworms will be purchased in bulk from SuperCricket.ca, and stored in
volunteers’ fridges in order to conserve them between uses. An order is approximately 1,000
worms, and three orders will therefore supply a family of 8 birds for one full nesting season.
Ecological Monitoring Plan and Data Collection
Collection of high quality data can be a challenge for volunteer-driven organizations. We
hope to lay down a framework for monitoring with clear goals, easily followed protocols and
simple measurements that will minimize training and maximize accuracy of data. We will
record this data on our website - see Data Management Plan, above.
Observational Data Collection
a) Record presence/absence of individual Western bluebirds and nesting pairs
b) Record clutch size and key development benchmarks (ie: fledging, independent
foraging events).
c) Record numbers of mealworms consumed by individuals each day
d) Record weather conditions
e) Record an annual survey of nest box and habitat tree activity, to be carried out by
volunteers recruited from Biology Survey of Vertebrates students, or club members each fall. A
bird species census will also be conducted at this time.
See Appendix C for the basic data sheet to be carried by volunteers, which will record this
information.
Other Monitoring Recommendations
a) Bird banding. Banding will require more resources than can reasonably be provided by
this project. We will maintain communication with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory (RPBO)
and GOERT to update them on sightings. If they are interested in banding, we can help facilitate
the project on campus, and volunteers would benefit from training. Banding would allow
assessment of bird health and breeding condition, parasite presence/absence, molt patterns and
other valuable data.
25 b) Habitat mapping of natural features ought to be performed every five years to
document changes to the community structure over time. However, this is again outside of the
scope of this project, although we will provide a database to which to upload the results of this
mapping project if any other organization decides to take it on.
Monitoring Methods
1) University of Victoria: Classes will, as discussed above, monitor various aspects of this
project:
a) RNS diploma program - a habitat site assessment to be carried out annually as one of
their mandatory field surveys. The metrics on site conditions will include soil samples, tree
diameter at breast height (DBH), and comparison to reference site. Reports will be uploaded to
the project database and will be used to assess changes to the habitat/community over time.
b) BIOL 329, “Biology of the Vertebrates of British Columbia” – spring bird survey. We
will establish a standardized walking route for point counts. Each laboratory section will
complete a point count over the course of the spring semester. Data on species presence/absence
will be tabulated and uploaded to the project database.
c) ES 341, “Ecological Restoration” – invasive species removal. Continued effort to
maintain control of invasive species, including ivy, hawthorne, and holly.
d) GEO 327 “Research Methods in Human Geography”- Assess how the community
accepts the bluebird projects and how engaged the community has become in the project.
2) Volunteer monitoring: After bluebirds nest, daily nest rounds will be carried out by dedicated
volunteers. These volunteers will each be assigned a site, and three volunteers will go out each
day to each investigate one area, so that a full walking tour of the 3 sites will only take 20
minutes of commitment per person. If birds are present, they will fill out a data sheet on the
location and number of bluebirds seen or heard, and status of eggs and/or chicks. (See Appendix
D for a sample form) These volunteers will be provided with clipboards, paper protectors for
rainy days, and pencils. We will store the sampling clipboard and extra data sheets in one of the
public lockers in the Petch building, so that all volunteers can access it as needed. We will buy a
combination lock for this locker from the university bookstore.
3) Public monitoring: The project areas are located on and along walking trails, so public reports
on the status of the bluebirds will form a background to our committed volunteer data. We will
liaise with GOERT’s existing program to document and follow up on reports of sightings. We
will also use our link with the VNHS Rare Bird reporting line to document sightings of bluebirds
in Victoria.
26 Supervision and Safety
During open community events we will have proper instruction on how to handle and use
all tools and other equipment. As well, installation of bird boxes will be in March, to prevent
harm or disturbance to breeding birds in the area and allow time to troubleshoot before the
breeding season starts in May. Those who will participate in further monitoring will receive
instruction in how to conscientiously monitor nesting birds without disturbing them.
Budget
Nest Boxes
For this project we will budget for 10 bird boxes, as we will try to put as many in place as
we can in any given area, using as many paired boxes as we can. Budgeting was done at Home
Depot and online at homedepot.ca, although there are many other hardware stores where
equipment such as this could be bought. The tools required for construction of the boxes are a
hammer ($3.98), a saw ($10.95), and a drill ($24.99). As the boxes will be put into place outside,
cedar and galvanized nails should be used to enhance the lifespan of the nest box. A 1” x 6” x 5”
cedar board, which will be used to create the walls, floor, and roof, costs $2.25. Each box will
need its own cedar board, so ten cedar boards will cost $22.50. To hold the nest box together,
420g of 1 3/4” galvanized nails is $5.29 which will be enough to assemble the ten boxes. The
nest box will be attached to a pole, which will be inserted into the ground, using galvanized
metal strapping ($4.38). There is enough strapping in one roll to be used for all ten boxes. The
pole used will be 2” x 2” x 8” cedar to allow for the box to be high enough off the ground,
costing $4.41 per pole for a total of $44.10 for the ten poles. The total budget for ten next boxes
will therefore be $132.39, although another ten would only cost $86.95 as the tools to build the
box would have already been purchased, as shown in Table 7.
Table 7. Budgeting for a total of ten Bird Boxes.
Tools/ Supplies
Quantity
Price (for one) Total costs
Hammer
1
$3.98
$3.98
Saw
1
$10.95
$10.95
Drill
1
$24.99
$24.99
1’ x 6” x 5” Cedar Board
6
$2.25
$22.50
420g 1 3/4” Galvanized Nails
1 box
$5.29
$5.29
Galvanized Metal Strapping
1 role
$4.38
$4.38
27 2” x 2” x 8’ Cedar Pole
6 poles
$4.41
$44.10
GRAND TOTAL (first ($116.19)(0.14) $132.39
ten boxes) AFTER TAX
GRAND
(subsequent
AFTER TAX
TOTAL ($76.27)(0.14)
boxes)
$86.95
Monitoring and Volunteer Materials
Pizzas for the volunteers will the ordered from Palagio (4 medium pizzas, for a total cost
of $40.00) during the initial installation of the boxes. Each year, two Starbucks “Hot Chocolate
travellers” will be purchased for volunteers during the pre-nesting season birdbox cleanup, which
will cost $30.00 for each year, and $150.00 over the 5 year period. These prices can be seen in
Table 8.
Monitoring equipment used by the volunteers will be purchased at Staples. A total of 5
clipboards and 20 pencils will be obtained, totalling $15.00 and $2.00 respectively. Monitoring
sheets will be printed at Zap using the project’s Zap card which will have a total of $20.00 on it.
This equipment will be stored in a free locker in the Petch building, locked with a $5.23 lock
from Staples. This data can be viewed in Table 8.
Medium-sized mealworms will be purchased in bulk from SuperCricket.ca, and stored in
volunteers’ fridges in order to conserve them between uses. They cost approximately $10 for
1,000 worms. Three orders will therefore supply a family of 8 birds for one full nesting season.
Over 5 years, a maximum of 15 orders will be made, totalling $150.00, as shown in Table 8.
Our final project cost is thus approximately $568.13.
Table 8. Monitoring and Volunteer Material Costs for 5 year project plan.
Tools/ Supplies
Quantity
Total price
Pizzas
4
$40.00
Starbucks Hot Chocolate Traveller
10
$150.00
Clip Boards
5
$15.00
10 Pack of Pencils
2
$2.00
Zap Printing Card
1 x $20
$20.00
Lock
1
$5.23
Medium Sized Mealworms
15
$150.00
GRAND TOTAL PLUS TAX
($382.23)(0.14)
$435.74
28 Funding Plan
As discussed above, we will require a minimum of $568.13. We intend to fund this
project in three ways. First, through our status as members of CommonEnergy, we will have
access to between $125-150 per semester. However, as CommonEnergy often has other
requirements for that money, we will not count on that money being available. If we apply for
club status on our own, we will have access to $60-85 per semester. As all of this is uncertain,
this money is not a primary source of funding for this project. Second, we will apply to the
UVSS special fund, which provides funding of up to $500 for clubs with special projects (UVSS,
2013). Third, we will have a fundraising night at Felicita’s. The campus pub reserves Saturday
evenings for UVic student groups to hold events, and donates all cover revenue to the group. We
will contact them at [email protected] (Felicita’s, 2013). If these sources of funding prove
insufficient, then we will apply for the other grants also listed in Appendix A.
Evaluating Project Success
1. Ecological
1.1 We will have achieved objective 1.1 if we have built and installed 5 paired nesting
boxes by May 2015.
1.2 We will have achieved objective 1.2 if we have supplied mealworms to nesting pairs
throughout the nesting season for a full year, depending on when the bluebirds arrive.
1.3 We will have achieved objective 1.3 if the moratorium has been reinstated and
expanded to including sites 1, 2, and 3 in the updated campus plan, as of 2014.
2: Engagement
2.1 We will have achieved objective 2.1 if we have held four annual community events in
2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
2.2 We will achieved reached objective 2.2 if we reach 100 total followers on Twitter and
Facebook within the first year, add 50 new followers each year thereafter, and have published
articles in at least four print media sources, or two thirds of our targets, each year. This many
followers will ensure the necessary support to implement our project, and new followers will
replace those leaving due to graduation or a loss of interest. However, followers on social media
are inadequate measures of actual engagement, so we will aim for a conversion of 10 followers
to active volunteers each year.
2.3 We will have achieved objective 2.3 if we have established regular communication
with GOERT including the exchange of at least 1 status report per year to be presented at their
Annual General Meeting, and relevant information from their workshops has been summarized
and shared in our document database for consideration annually between 2014 and 2017.
29 2.4 We will have achieved objective 2.4 if we have contacted at least 5 other
organizations and at least 3 organizations have responded favorably, such that we have involved
3 groups in at least one event each by 2017.
2.5 We will have achieved objective 2.5 if we have set up a link with the Victoria Natural
History Society (VNHS) Rare Bird line by May 2014. The need for this will hopefully diminish
with time as the Western bluebird once again becomes a regular sight in Victoria.
3: Knowledge Base
3.1 We will have achieved objective 3.1 if volunteers have filled out our basic data sheets
on at least 6 days of every week for the entirety of the nesting season when birds are present each
year between 2014 and 2017. When birds are not present, informal site visits twice a week will
be sufficient. Ideally, volunteers would make nest rounds and provide mealworms daily, but due
to the nature of volunteer-run programs, we will aim realistically for six days per week,
prioritizing days with inclement weather. This will be sufficient to provide detailed information
and will ensure that adequate numbers of mealworms are provided, while allowing for human
error.
3.2 We will have achieved objective 3.2 if we have, by 2015, created an online database
which is publicly accessible which has been updated annually to include all data-sheet
information, an update from the GOERT AGM, an updated contact list (private), fundraising
letter, data from the Rare Bird line and other public monitoring, and other information deemed
relevant.
3.3 We will have achieved objective 3.3 if we have secured commitments from the
Biology department, the Environmental Studies department, and/or the RNS department to
incorporate our project into at least one laboratory session per targeted course (or equivalent) by
the beginning of the 2015 fall semester. While it would be preferable to implement these classes
earlier, the nature of curriculum development suggests that it will take a while to create the
necessary projects.
Adaptive Management
Throughout this project, we have discussed possible solutions to various problems as they
arise. These discussions form the core of our adaptive management plan, but we will consider
some further contingencies below.
We will consider our vision to have been met if we have observed at least one bluebird
on campus by 2017. If no birds have been observed in that time frame, we will consider our plan
to have failed. Failure may indicate that the habitat, despite restoration efforts is simply no
longer suitable for Western bluebirds, and that restoration efforts would be better directed to
other habitats. We will use annual site assessment data to inform our understanding. However, if
ecosystem recovery metrics are on track, we will commence a feasibility study into relocating
successful breeding pairs to campus. We will follow the San Juan and Cowichan project models
to design our adapted plan.
30 We will evaluate threats to bluebirds through regular monitoring, and presence of nest
material of other species during February maintenence. We will then take appropriate action, as
follows:
Table 10: Adaptive Management of Threats
Threat
Action
Trigger for action
Ground
Predators
(Cats,
squirrels,
etc.)
Predator Baffle
Place boxes 6 feet high
Nestling is found dead or there is other
evidence of predation
Hawks,
Crows,
Ravens
None
House
Sparrows
Sparrow Spookers
VioletGreen
Swallows
and
other
secondary
cavitynesters
Remove inactive nest materials; Nest boxes are all or mostly (more than
extra nesting boxes; moving the 6/10) taken over by Swallows or other
boxes at least 60m away from the birds
edge of meadows.
European
Starlings
1 ½ inch wide entrances to boxes
Preventative measure, in project plan
Food
competition
Mealworms
Preventative measure, in project plan
Cold
Weather
Mealworms, box direction
Preventative measure, in project plan
Pesticide
Use
None
Windows
Campaign to coat windows in anti- More than one Western bluebird found
bird stickers
dead next to windows
Sparrows are observed to be attacking
nestlings or nests
31 Human
Disturbance
None
Noise
Pollution
Plant shrub screen
Birds observably disturbed by loud noises
from the road.
We chose not to implement active predator deterrents
at this stage of the project. However, if, during our regular
monitoring, we find evidence that predators are impacting the
bluebirds, we will adapt our plan. If we have problems with
sparrows, we will install sparrow spookers. Sparrow spookers
are mylar strips attached to the top of the boxes (See Figure
11). These should only add $20 to the budget, particularly if
we buy mylar banners from the dollar store, and use dowels
as the frame.
Figure 11: Sparrow Spooker Design (Sialis, 2013)
If other predators, such as cats and
raccoons, are the problem, then we will
build Predator baffles on the poles to
prevent them from climbing. Predator
baffles are installed approximately 6 inches
below the bird box, and require a stove pipe,
a hardware cloth, bolt hangers, and electrical
tape (Kingston, 2001). Six inch stove pipe
costs $8.50 from Home Hardware, so it
would cost approximately $50 to install
them on all project poles (See Figure 12)
Figure 12: Predator Baffle Design (Kingston, 2001)
32 If multiple birds are injured or killed by windows, we will have to look into coating the
windows with protective stickers. This may necessitate an active media campaign to create
public interest in the issue and to encourage the university to take action.
Determining the effects of noise pollution on bluebirds is difficult. However, if the
bluebirds have observable reactions to the noises of the road, then we will need to investigate the
possibility of planting noise screens around the area.
Other possible obstacles to our project may come from the community. If there is no
interest shown by UVIC or the surrounding community, and our engagement objectives are not
met, then we will have to look into contacting other sources, such as GOERT or the District of
Saanich, in order to ensure adequate volunteer power to help with implementation and
monitoring. If the University departments decline to participate in our plan, then we will need to
investigate other possible options for ongoing monitoring and learning, such as contacting
Camosun College or working more closely with the Gordon Head Elementary School. If there is
an institutional or community backlash against the boxes for aesthetic reasons, we will consider
“hidden” boxes which look like hollow trees. However, this is a more expensive option than our
current design.
33 References
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http://www.goert.ca/about/what_remains.php
Hague, A., Fehr, B., & Griffin, S., Chaboyer, S., & Gomes.T. (2009). Alumni Garry Oak
Meadow Restoration Project. School of Environmental Studies. University of Victoria ,
Victoria, BC.
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35 Klem, D. (2009). Preventing bird-window collisions. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 121(2),
314-321.
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November 5, 2013, from Prescott Bluebird:
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2013, from The San Juan Preservation Trust: http://sjpt.org/places-projects/stewardshipprojects/western-bluebird-project/
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2013, from Shaw Creek Bird Supply:
http://www.shawcreekbirdsupply.com/bluebird_predator_control.htm
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Reintroduction Case Study of Western Bluebirds to San Juan Island, Washington.
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disturbance along recreational trails. Journal of Field Ornithology, 81(2), 130-138.
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Juncos (junco phaenotus). Journal of Animal ecology, 58(1), 275.
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Super Cricket: http://supercricket.ca/live_mealworms.html
Theissen, E. (2013, October 3). 10-year moratorium on campus deforestation to expire.
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Decline in Central Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist, 405.
37 Wightman, C. S. (2009). Survival and Movements of Fledgling Western Bluebirds. The
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38 Appendices
A. Funding Sources
Table 11: Funding Sources
Funding source
Amount offered
Contact information
UVSS special fund
Up to $500
http://uvss.ca/studentgroups/clubs/running-yourclub/
Fundraising night at
Felicita’s
Unknown
[email protected]
UVSP grant
Up to $500
http://uvsp.uvic.ca/uvspsustainable-grants-program
Habitat Conservation Trust
Foundation, PCAF Grants,
Up to $2500
http://www.hctf.ca/applyfor-funding/pcaf-grants
Canadian Wildlife
Federation
$2000-15000
http://cwf-fcf.org/en/exploreour-work/fundingawards/foundation/
EcoAction Community
funding program
Up to $100 000
http://www.ec.gc.ca/ecoactio
n/default.asp?lang=En&n=F
A475FEB-1
Vancity
Unknown
https://www.vancity.com/Ab
outVancity/InvestingInCom
munities/Grants/enviroFund
/
TD Friends of the
Environment Foundation
$2000
http://fef.td.com/funding/
39 B. Stakeholders and Contacts
A) GOERT: Kathryn Martell, Conservation Specialist/Bluebird Project Coordinator; 250-3833427; [email protected]
GOERT has lots of resources for the conservation of Garry Oak Ecosystems and will be
able to provide us with inside information on their bluebird project in Cowichan.
B) Victoria Natural History Society: Darren Copley, President; 250-479-6622;
[email protected]
The Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS) runs the Rare Bird Alert line, which we
hope to be able to tie into in order to allow the public to report sightings of bluebirds.
They may also be interested in contributing to the project.
C) Gordon Head Elementary: Brent Kelly, Principal; 250-477-1855; [email protected]
Getting the school involved in the project could offer opportunities for the students to
learn about restoration, as well as provide a method of ongoing monitoring.
D) UVic: Neil Connelly, Director of the Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability,: 250472-5433, [email protected]
Personal communication informs us that UVic does not require that permission be asked,
but they do require us to inform Neil Connelly of our proposal and let him know where
the boxes will be. He may also have suggestions as to where the boxes should go and it is
also possible that he and Rita would be willing to include some kind of monitoring in
future sustainability events.
E) UVic Environmental Studies Department: Lori Erb, School Administrator, 250-472-4568;
[email protected]
The UH4 house and grounds is managed by the School of Environmental Studies, so we
will have to get permission from the ES department before we put nest boxes there.
F) RNS program: Val Schaefer, Faculty Coordinator; 250-472-4387, [email protected]
40 The RNS program does a lot of restoration on and around campus, so they may be good
people to consult with to make sure that we can integrate Garry Oak restoration into our
work.
G) On pre-existing meadow restoration: Brenda Beckwith, sessional faculty and undergraduate
advisor, [email protected]
Brenda Beckwith has been central to major restoration efforts in the Garry Oak meadows
on campus. Therefore, she may be able to inform on the future plans for these meadows,
as well as suggest how the nest boxes may influence the ecosystems.
H) Ecological Restoration Volunteer Network: [email protected]
Their website promises that any organization needing restoration volunteers can email
them at this address and it will be circulated to their mailing list.
I) Biology Department: Tanya Threlfall, Department Secretary, 250-721-7091
[email protected]
We hope that the biology department might be willing to integrate monitoring the nest
boxes into one of their classes. The Department Secretary seems like a good first point of
contact to ask whether they might be interested.
J) Songhees First Nation: Chief Sam Robert, 250-386-1043
Although there is no evidence that the Western bluebird was a particularly important
species for First Nations in this area, the University of Victoria does lie on unceded
Coast Salish territory. Furthermore, the Songhees nation may possess detailed ecological
knowledge about the habits and needs of bluebirds in this area. For that reason, it is
important to include the local first nations in our decision making processes, and to ask
them for advice.
K) UVIC Students: The Martlet and Essence
As this project will be located on the UVic campus, it seems advisable to consult with
UVic students. Contacting every student through email is impractical and would require
significant support from the university. However, by publishing short articles in The
Martlet and Essence with requests for feedback to be sent to [email protected]
(password: uvicbluebird), we can receive community feedback with maximum efficiency.
We also considered consulting with the District of Saanich, the District of Oak Bay, and the
UVic Alumni Association. However, this project is sufficiently limited in scope that it seems
unnecessary to bother any of those groups without further indications that such a consultation is
necessary.
41 C. Bird Box Plans
First, the 1 x 6 x 5 cedar board will need to be cut into the 6 different pieces required
using a saw. The cuts will be made perpendicular to the long side. The first piece will be 4 inches
along the 4 foot side. The next piece will be 19.5 inches long, and will then be cut in half
diagonally into 2 pieces, ensuring the edges are beveled to have a snug fit to the roof piece later
in construction. The 4th will be 9 3/8th inches long and the 5th piece will be 10.5 inches long.
The rest of the board (approximately 15-17 inches) will be used for the back. This cutting pattern
of the first 4 pieces is depicted in Figure 13.
Figure 13. The cutting pattern required to create the walls, floor, and front of the birdbox.
Once the pieces are cut to size, the detail cutting will occur. The floor piece will be cut at
the corners to allow for draining of the box. The entrance will be cut into the front piece, 6.5
inches up from the bottom, as a 1.5 inch diameter circle, allowing just enough room for the birds
to get in and out while also being small enough to exclude predators and competing species
(Purcell et al., 1997).
The walls will then be attached together with galvanized nails. First, we will attach the 3
walls to each other and to the floor first, then we will add the roof, then the “door” wall on the
side. The “door” will be installed 1/2 inch below the roof to allow ventilation and room for
pivoting when opening.
The “door” wall will be installed with pivot nails (also galvanized) driven through the
front and back pieces, and into the sides of the door piece at the same height. These pivot nails
act as the pivot point to open the door for monitoring the nest. A hole (larger in diameter than the
diameter of the nail, to ensure it fits) will then be drilled at the bottom, from the front piece down
at an angle through the side piece so that a nail can be inserted to act as a lock. It is drilled at an
angle to ensure it does not fall out. The orientation of the pivot nails is pictured in Figure 14.
42 Figure 14. The location of the pivot nails at the top of the “door” wall of the birdbox and
the location of the lock nail at the bottom of the door.
A piece of galvanized metal will be attached to the next box with galvanized nails and
then used to attach the nest box to the intended habitat (in this case, a pole).
Plan adapted from North American Bluebird Society, 2006.
43 D. Monitoring Data Sheets
UVic Bluebird Club Nesting Season Monitoring Info Sheet Observer Names: Date: Weather Conditions: Site Observed (please circle one) Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Bluebirds (please circle one) PRESENT / ABSENT Bird # Location relative to Behavior (Feeding, Band Number (if box nest building, etc.) present) 1 2 3 4 5 Notes on nesting activity: (Nesting material in box? Eggs? Chicks?): Meal worms provided? (Please circle one) YES / NO If yes, how many? Feeding observed? YES / NO Competitor species in vicinity (Using nest boxes, interacting with bluebirds)?: Other (please report vandalism, other observations of interest): 44 Acknowledgements
This project was developed for the Environmental Studies Ecological Restoration course,
University of Victoria, 2013. We would like to acknowledge the support from Tanya TaggartHodge, Dr. Eric Higgs and UVic Facilities Management personnel.
Division of Labour
Morag:
Main author: Threats and Considerations
Adaptive Management
Stakeholders (paragraph and Appendix B)
Funding sources and funding plan (Paragraphs and Appendix A)
Cowriter:
Goals and Objectives
Implementation Plan
Monitoring Plan
Evaluating Project Success
Basic Data Collection Sheet
Other Contributions: Creation and maintenance of To-Do list
Detailed proofread
Final compilation
Formatting
Editing
Misha:
Main author: Introduction
Restoration Continuity
Landscape Connectivity
Cowriter:
Goals and Objectives
Implementation Plan
Monitoring Plan
Evaluating Project Success
Basic Data Collection Sheet
45 Other Contributions: Editing
Detailed proofread
Cortney:
Main author: Species Profile
Moratorium
Safety
Cowriter:
Goals and Objectives
Monitoring Plan
Evaluating Project Success
Other Contributions: Checking references and putting everything into APA
Editing
Detailed proofread
Jessie:
Main Author: Budget
Materials
Design of Boxes (Paragraph and Appendix C)
Cowriter:
Goals and Objectives
Basic Data Collection Sheet
Other Contributions: Detailed proofread
Shannon:
Main Author: Site Description
Site Introduction
Maps and Tables of site and site description, and site photos
Proposed locations of nest boxes
Reference Ecosystem, Novel Ecosystems
Site history and related disturbances
Site considerations
Cowriter:
Goals and Objectives
Other Contributions: Contacted K. Martell, R. Hebda, E. Higgs, B. Beckwith, N. Turner, V.
Shafer, R. Rose and D. Eastman via email
Attended GOERT symposium and asked questions about our project
46 Detailed proofread
We also all participated in a Site Visit with the group to take GPS coordinates, find suitable
locations, etc., and in group editing / planning sessions.
47 
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