San Francisco, CA – One of California’s most beloved birds today was named the 2015 Audubon California Bird of the Year. The Western Bluebird – which throughout the Western United States, Canada and Mexico – received the designation after totaling nearly more than 30 percent of votes cast during an online poll this fall.
The blue- and rust-colored Western Bluebird is commonly found in open areas with scattered trees, which means that they can turn up in parks and backyards with surprising frequency. They like areas with lots of low snags and perches. Declines in Western Bluebirds in some areas have prompted many enthusiasts to provide nest boxes as a way to build up local populations. Several Audubon chapters have organized these efforts.
Audubon recently designated the Western Bluebird as Climate Threatened, as it is predicted to lose about 60 percent of its winter range by 2080. Researchers believe that the bird can adapt to new areas, but it will be important for us to preserve forest and tree health to ensure that habitat is available.
“Every one of the nominated birds is beloved by Californians, but no one can be surprised to see the Western Bluebird win this year,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “For a lot of people, the joy of seeing this bird in the wild was their introduction to a lifetime love of nature.”
The Western Bluebird is a highly social bird, which has been known to turn up in large numbers at feeders and bird baths. Audubon California's Working Lands program has worked with a number of farmers and ranchers to install nesting boxes and habitat to help this popular species.
More than 4,500 votes were cast in this year’s Bird of the Year poll. The Western Bluebird finished with 30.6 percent of the vote. The American Kestrel came in second place with 25.6 percent, while the Western Tanager was a distant third at 13.1 percent.
“Each of the nominated birds was a focus of our conservation work in 2015,” said McCormack. “Our hope is that the attention this award brings to the Western Bluebird will help raise awareness of the conservation needs of all birds throughout the state. Go out and look for the Western Bluebird – while you’re out there, you’ll no doubt see a lot of other amazing California birds.”
About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 150,000 members and supporters in California, and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society.
More information is available at www.ca.audubon.org.