Critter Corner - Eastern Bluebird
(Sialia sialis)

DID YOU KNOW:

The Eastern Bluebird is the Missouri state bird.  Many birds and feathers play an important part as symbols in the language of contemporary life.  The Bluebird represents ‘happiness’.

EATING HABITS:

Adult bluebirds feed mainly on insects, worms, snails, berries and fruits.  They are very dependent on berries in the wintertime.  The young birds feed primarily on insects.

THE YOUNG:

Eastern Bluebirds commonly nest two or three times a year, late March, mid to late May and then again in July.  The mother bird can lay 3-7 eggs consecutively.  Eggs are usually pale blue but occasionally are white and unmarked.  It takes about 12-14 days for the eggs to hatch and then 15-20 days before the baby birds get their flight feathers.  The young bird is grayish with a speckled breast. 

HABITAT (HOME):

The Eastern Bluebird’s ideal home is an old abandoned woodpecker’s hole.  You can also find nests on posts, along roadside fence lines, open woodlands, swamps, and also in nest boxes.  Nests are built using loose grass, weeds, twigs, pine needles, and occasionally with hair and feathers.  You can help bluebirds by providing nesting boxes.

 

 

DEFENSIVE HABITS:

Sparrows and starlings are in competition with the bluebird for the nest.  This is why the bluebird chooses an enclosed nest box, or in a secluded but open spot. 

UNUSUAL FACTS:

  • Bluebirds are related to the Robin. They are in the ‘thrush’ family of birds.

  • Bluebirds are fine singers.  They sing a musical note of ‘chur-wi’ or ‘tru-ly’. 

  • A courting male sings and flutters its wings in front of the female and offers her food.

  • The male bird is a striking blue color above and chestnut color underneath, with a white belly.  The female is duller.  She is grayer above with a spotted breast; similar to the young bird, which is slightly darker.

  • Bluebirds frequently return to the identical nesting site year after year, yet rarely is one of the young found back in the area where it was hatched. 

  • The fact that people build and place bluebird nest boxes in rural areas is the reason for the increase in size of the Eastern Bluebird population.  Keep building those nesting boxes so we can continue to increase the population of these beautifully colored blue songbirds in our state.

Check out these plans for building blue bird nest boxes.

To learn more about eastern blue birds

Click Here

(Photo Credits: Portrait of male and female, FNAL (Fermi Lab); Photo of nest, US Geological Service, Photographer: C.D. Groundalh; Bluebird with wings spread, Missouri Department of Conservation )