Monday, September 16, 2013

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides) are a member of the thrush family (also home to the American robin). Bluebirds are one of the most recognizable songbirds, and one of the most sought after. There are three bluebird species in North America. In the east, there is the eastern bluebird, and in the west, there are two species of bluebird: western and mountain bluebirds.

Male and female mountain bluebirds
Photo by: Matt Brincka

Adult males are a beautiful turquoise-blue with a lighter blue chest and belly, where females are a duller blue with grey. In the fall, females can show a slight re-orange on the throat and breast. It isn't common to see a bird that is pure blue in color in North America, making the mountain bluebird an even more attractive site. Their range spans from Mexico to the as far north as Alaska. Northern birds will migrate down to the southern reaches of the range, while birds found in Mexico are often year-long residents. They can be found in open rangelands and meadows above 5,000 feet.

Male mountain bluebird with a snack
Photo by: Matt Brincka

Mountain bluebirds were once considered threatened due to an increase in agricultural land, destroying habitats. However, thanks to an overwhelming effort by landowners in the West to provide bird boxes for these cavity nesters, their numbers have dramatic increased. Little is know about native nesting requirements, for the vast majority of couples that are studied use nest boxes.

Male mountain bluebird
Photo by: Matt Brincka

Interesting Tid-Bits
  • Usually hunts from perches, flying to the ground to catch prey. Does exhibit fly catcher behavior (hunts from perch and catches prey in the air).
  • Only females make nests. Males pretend to help, but usually either drops or just shows up with no nesting material at all.
  • Mountain bluebirds are sometimes credited with halting or slowing the advance of eastern bluebirds into the west because the out compete them for nesting sites.
  • A very slow migrator, stopping often to feed (fatty).
Sorry it took so long for an update, I've been rather busy (and Colorado has been a mess lately!) I'll be posting another 2-3 post over the next week or so to make up for it! Including a post on Yellowstone National Park and American bison!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the photo. I just saw one, today. It is the first one I've ever seen. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo before it flew away. It was very bright blue and all over with no orange or buff colors showing. According to the range map this area is out of their range but there it was. It was here in northeastern Kansas at the west end of Clinton Lake in Douglas County.