Environment
8:00 am
Sun April 27, 2014

Western KY Bluebird Population Weakened by Winter Weather

A Friends of LBL and Lake Barkley volunteer and bluebird expert says the regional population may be the lowest it's been in 25 years due to the extended winter weather.

Bob Peak and his wife Judy have monitored nest boxes in LBL and Lake Barkley for the last 25 nesting seasons, which run from March through September. He says he finds anywhere from 1 to 3 dead bluebirds in those boxes each period, usually brought about by lack of food.

However, this season, Peak says he’s seen those numbers skyrocket.

“During our first monitoring sessions this year, we found 31 dead bluebirds at LBL and 37 dead blue birds at Lake Barkley State Resort Park,” Peak said.

Credit By vastateparksstaff [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Credit By Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Because bluebirds are primarily insectivores, they help contain the local pest population.

Bluebirds are also secondary cavity nesters; they lack the ability to create their own nest, and search for existing homes.

However, Peak says 230 man-made bluebird nesting boxes in LBL’s National Recreation Area aren’t all filled.

“It looks like the occupancy rate now is down below 50 percent. Typically at this time of year, it might be 75 percent to 85 percent,” Peak said. “So we know that there just aren’t as many mature adult birds out there right now, and we do expect the numbers of eggs and babies to go down this year.”

“This is the first time we’ve had this experience in 25 years.”

Peak says while this isn’t a widespread issue, he has received emails from others in southern Indiana finding the same results. That region also experienced prolonged wintry conditions this year.