Mountain Bluebird
(Sialia currucoides)

Summary

Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (flickr.com/photos/jukka_jantunen)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Mountain Bluebird is a common summer resident in grassland and pasture habitat, open forest and alpine tundra in western Canada, extending north to Yukon and the edge of the Northwest Territories. Results of the Breeding Bird Survey demonstrates a negative trend in the Canadian population but numbers are still considered relatively similar to those in the early 1970s. Some recent population decreases have been attributed to weather conditions. The Mountain Bluebird is a cavity nester; nest-site competition with introduced species has been mitigated to a large degree by large-scale nest box programs (Power and Lombardo 1996). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeMediumAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 1,000,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-April and late May and ends between late July and early August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

Mountain Bluebird populations likely declined significantly in the 1950s as a result of the loss of cavity nest sites from introduced nest competitors such as European Starlings and House Sparrows, as well as fire suppression that reduced suitable habitat (Power and Lombardo 1996). A large-scale effort to provide artificial nest sites through bluebird nest box programs raised populations in the 1960s and 1970s in those areas. Subsequent fluctuations may be due to annual climatic variation, especially the negative effects of late spring snowstorms and prolonged cool, wet spells in summer (Miller 1970, Munro and Rounds 1985). Climate change may be a concern for the species, local abundance of Mountain Bluebirds can be affected by years with high levels of rainfall or low early season snowfall (McArthur et al. 2017). Logging activities can create suitable habitat in the short term, but reforestation quickly makes this habitat unsuitable (Power and Lombardo 1996).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
 

References