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BluebirdsBluebird in tree

Bird houses and bird feeders can attract these beautiful little birds to your backyard.

Bluebirds are a favorite of mine, and in fact most birders. They are not as common as they once were, and there is a concerted effort by many birders to change this.  The establishment of Bluebird trails is increasing their number.  A Bluebird trail is a series of nest boxes in appropriate habitats.  Even putting up a single nest box helps the cause.       Get Bluebird puzzle

Watch video below of Mountain bluebird on the mountain.  For other bird videos please visit our Youtube channel and subscribe or like our videos.

 
Most videos on my site were taken with the Canon HG10 camcorder.

Identification and Pictures

Mountain BluebirdBluebird TypesWestern Bluebird

Bluebirds are a member of the Thrush family.  They are related to the American Robin.  There are three types living in North America.

Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) are a little larger than a Sparrow, around 6 to 7 inches.  The head, wings, and tail are blue.  The belly is white, the breast, and back are rusty red.  In some birds the back will be partially blue.

 Western Bluebird

Pair of Western Bluebirds, Photo by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

 

The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currocoides) is almost all blue with a whitish belly. The females in all types have duller colors. In the Mountain bluebird it is dull brownish with a touch of blue on the wings, rump, and tail. Mountain Bluebird
  Photo by Keith Lee.  The camera I is the Canon EOS 40D.
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) looks the same except it has a rusty throat.

Eastern BluebirdEastern Bluebird by Menke, Dave

Bluebird Song

The Eastern bluebird makes a note that sounds like tru-ly, and the song is soft gurgling notes.
The Western bluebird sounds like pew.
Mountain bluebirds have a chru sound and a song that is a low warble.


Note on some browsers you will not be able to see or use the drop down sound list.  If you can't use it try the sound links below.

Western Bluebird Click for Sound
Eastern Bluebird Click for Sound
Mountain Bluebird Click for Sound

Bluebird Trail and Nest Boxes

Below are some tips for starting your own Bluebird trail or attracting these little birds to you backyard.
I will sometimes use birdhouse and other times use nest box to mean the same thing.

Location - Location.

Bluebirds like open spaces with short vegetation, and lots of insects.  This could be gulf courses, parks or a field on the edge of a wooded area. A large lawn is fine.  They nest naturally in dead tree cavities, and abandoned woodpecker holes.  The birds do not make their own nest cavities.  They rely on natural or manmade cavities such as birdhouses to build nests in.  Try placing your birdhouses where there are some nearby trees or shrubs for them to perch on.  They are tolerant of humans, and do not mind nesting around them.

Many Bluebird trails will go on for miles.  The boxes are generally spaced around 300 feet apart.  The reason for the spacing is bluebirds are territorial when breeding.

You can also put up a house or two in your back yard to attract them.

There are many styles of birdhouses or nest boxes.
To see a plan for a simple birdhouse you can build click here.

Placement & Mounting
You can place your nest boxes on a pole, fence, post or attach it to a tree.  Keep in mind that there are many predators.  Cats, dogs, squirrels, and snakes all pose a danger.

Try to place your boxes where nesting materials such as soft grasses, and pine needles are available.  Some people put out containers with these materials for the birds.

birdhouse Mount it so the hole faces away from the prevailing wind, preferably out of the direct sun. About five feet above the ground is good.  More about bird houses

Other Visitors

Do not be surprised to find other birds such as chickadees or wrens in your birdhouse.  Sparrows can be a problem for bluebirds.  They may destroy the eggs and kill the young.  If you see sparrows building a nest you can remove the material before they finish.

Bluebird Territory

Males will establish a territory of two to five acres.  In early March or April he will try to attract a female with his sweet song.  In courtship he will raise, and quiver one or both wings, and often feed her morsels of food.  After she chooses the nesting spot she will lay one egg a day until there are 3 to 5 in the clutch.  In 12 to 14 days the eggs will hatch, and both adults will feed the young ones.  The young birds will fledge or develop the feathers to fly in 15 to 20 days.

Monitoring and cleaning

It's a good idea to check birdhouses once a week.  Many people keep records such as the date eggs were laid, and hatched.  The number for a season, as well as the date and number of young birds can be recorded.  The adults will return after you examine the nest.  After the nestlings have fledged, remove the old nest so the birds will start over. After breeding season you should bag the nest, and throw it away. Check to see if the nest has insects.  If you find insects get rotenone powder to dust the box with.  If the birds start building a new nest before you remove the old one just leave it alone.

Create a Habitat in Your Backyard

Two things that will attract birds to your backyard are food, and plenty of water.  You can also plant fruit, and berry trees.  Add herbaceous flower beds to this, and you will have an attractive habitat.

Bird Feeders

A Bluebird's main diet is insects.  They also eat berries, sunflower seeds, nutmeats, and other foods.  There are many styles of bird feeders.  Use feeders that will not attract larger birds, and do not put them too close to the nest box.  Like other birds that eat insects, Bluebirds will be attracted to suet feeders.
Find out more about bird feeders and see a simple plan you can build.
For more on food and feeding click here

Bluebird posters Bluebird posters

To learn about other favorite birds click here

 
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