Last update: June 24, 2022.

Here are the tentative dates for the 2022 Young Naturalists Bluebird Trail (as best as I can predict) and some information about our Bluebird Trail.  (This schedule will be subject to change.  Updates will be posted).

To register for a session, please e-mail naturekids@saskatoonnature.org indicating which date/time and how many people.

Please review the list and let me know which date or dates you would like to attend.  (If you haven’t already done so).  You can sign up for as many dates as you like.  Enrolment is limited to 6 participants on any particular date to avoid stressing the birds and to maintain physical distancing.  I usually stay out of the trail for about 2 hours.  You are welcome to head back home at any time during the program.  (If you are unable to attend on a particular date on which you have signed up, please let me know so we are not waiting for you at the meeting location.  Thanks).  The trail sections are tentative and subject to change.  Bluebird Trail monitoring on any particular day will be postponed or cancelled in the event of inclement weather.  Please send me an e-mail if you don’t see a date/time that works with schedule; there is enough flexibility in this program I can probably tailor-make an outing for your family.

Week One:

Wednesday, June 1        1:00 p.m.             West location (Grandora)

Wednesday, June 1        7:00 p.m.             West location (Grandora)

Thursday, June 2              1:00 p.m.             West location (Grandora)

Friday, June 3                    1:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake)  CANCELLED

Friday, June 3                    7:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake)  CANCELLED

Saturday, June 4               1:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake)  CANCELLED

Sunday, June 5                  1:00 p.m.             South location (Blackstrap)  CANCELLED

Sunday, June 5                  1:00 p.m.             West location (Grandora)   NEW

Week two:

Monday, June 6                10:30 a.m.           South location (Blackstrap)  CANCELLED

Tuesday, June 7              10:30 a.m.           West location (Grandora)   NEW

Wednesday, June 8        10:30 a.m.           West location (Grandora)

Friday, June 10                  10:30 a.m.           West location (Pike Lake)

Week Three:

Monday, June 13             10:30 a.m.           South location (Blackstrap) CANCELLED

Monday, June 13             10:30 a.m.           West location (Pike Lake)  NEW

Tuesday, June 14             7:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake) UPDATED

Wednesday, June 15      7:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake)

Week Four:

Wednesday, June 22      10:30 a.m.           West location (Pike Lake)

Wednesday, June 22      7:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake)

Thursday, June 23           10:30 a.m.           West location (Grandora)

Thursday, June 23            7:00 p.m.             West location (Grandora)  RAINED OUT

Friday, June 24                  10:30 a.m.           South location (Blackstrap)

Saturday, June 25            1:00 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake) UPDATED

Sunday, June 26               1:00 p.m.             South location (Blackstrap) NEW

Week Five:

Monday, June 27             10:30 a.m.           West location (TBA)

Monday, June 27             7:30 p.m.             West location (TBA)  NEW

Tuesday, June 28             11:00 a.m.           West location (Grandora)  NEW

Tuesday, June 28             1:30 p.m.             West location (TBA)  CANCELLED

Tuesday, June 28             7:30 p.m.             West location (Pike Lake)  NEW

Monday, July 4                  7:30 p.m.             West location (TBA)  NEW

Our west meeting location is the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank) at 137 Kensington Blvd.  Park on the west side of the parking lot. From here we will either travel about 20 km west (near Grandora) or 30 km south (near Pike Lake).

The south meeting location is the Petro Canada Gas Station at Grasswood Road and Highway 11. (Right beside the big PetroCanada sign where it says ‘no parking’).  The trail is located about 40 km south of Saskatoon and runs roughly parallel to the east side of Blackstrap Lake.

To sign up for any particular date send me a reply e-mail (or at naturekids@saskatoonnature.org) and I will send a confirmation along with more information about the Bluebird Trail. (Be sure to register.  I only wait at the meeting location if there is someone registered!).

Be sure to use the bathroom before leaving.  There are no bathrooms on the trail.

The Bluebird Trail is a bird monitoring program to study the productivity (how many babies) and survivorship (how long they live) of cavity nesting birds such as bluebirds and Tree Swallows.  (Cavity nesting birds are birds that nest inside hollow trees.  A nest box or bird house is essentially an artificial hollow tree).  Since 1969 the Young Naturalists, along with many others, have been monitoring special nest boxes.  The boxes are arranged in a sequence that is called the Bluebird Trail.  The Prairie Bluebird Trail runs from near Edmonton to Winnipeg.  Our portion of the trail (The Mary Houston Bluebird Trail) runs approximately 80 km (as the Bluebird flies) from Langham to Hanley. 

Our monitoring of bluebirds and Tree Swallows is part of a larger biodiversity study looking at the recovery of Bluebirds (from a population low in the 1950s) and the long-term population trends of insect-eating birds (“Ariel Insectivores”) on the Canadian prairies.

I have a scientific permit to band birds from the Canadian Wildlife Service, so our program also uses leg bands to track and study the survivorship of the birds.  Unlike other bluebird monitoring programs we carefully remove the baby birds from the nest box (which is the fun part for our group) to fit a numbered leg band around their legs.  We will learn about how to properly hold a bird, and how to avoid stressing out a bird when holding them.

More information (more than you’ll ever need) about Bluebird monitoring check out http://www.sialis.org/

To help you pick some dates, here is a rough guide to what happens on the trail: (Remember, there are always exceptions to the rule when it comes to nature).

Last week of May / First week of June:

We need to record which species of bird is using our nest box and how many eggs or young are in the nest.  This becomes the task of the Young Naturalists participants. (We’ll teach you how to identify the nest types and eggs).

Tree Swallows should be sitting on eggs.  We find out which boxes have Tree Swallows and how many eggs they have.  We will be attempting to band the adult birds in their nest boxes.  I’ll need help from the Young Naturalists to catch them!

Bluebirds eggs should be very close to hatching or there may be young bluebirds in the nest.  (Note: Mountain Bluebirds are a recovering species, only about 2-4% of the boxes have bluebirds).

Second Week of June

Tree Swallows are still sitting on eggs.  Some Tree Swallow eggs may have hatched. 

Most bluebird eggs will have hatched by now and the young birds should be fully feathered.

Third Week of June:

Tree Swallow babies will start to hatch.  Some may be old enough to band. We will be banding the adult birds and any young old enough to band. 

Bluebird young will be getting ready to leave the nest.

Fourth Week in June/ First week of July:

Tree Swallow young should all be hatched and fully feathered.  By the fourth week of June we will have visited most of the nest boxes.  We will be driving to specific nest boxes we know contain young ready to fledge (the late bloomers!) and band them.