About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Thrushes (Turdidae)

Males have bright blue heads, tails, backs, and wings. The sides, flanks, and throat are chestnut red. The underparts are also chestnut red from the chin down to the belly, but the belly is white.

Although there is much variation in their plumage, females are generally less colorful than males. They have light gray-blue heads, dull brown backs, and blue tails and wings. There is a slight white ring around the eye. In winter, the female's upper breast turns a pale reddish-brown.

Bluebirds require fairly open habitats consisting of large, short grassy areas like pastures, meadows, church yards, parks, golf courses, and farm fields. Areas which are NOT good habitats include subdivisions with small lots, densely populated suburbs, heavily wooded neighborhoods, and urban areas. All bluebirds are cavity nesters and will use artificial nest boxes. In fact, from the late 1800s to the 1960s, Eastern Bluebirds’ population declined almost 90% because of loss of habitat. However, since 1966 the population has increased 2.4% each year due to nesting boxes. When using natural cavities, bluebirds select abandoned woodpecker nests 75% of the time.

During courtship, as days grow longer, male bluebirds release hormones that stimulate the area of the brain responsible for singing behavior; unpaired males can sing between 400 to 1,000 songs per hour. Bluebird adults return to the same territory every year and are generally monogamous during breeding season.

Bluebirds love to eat mealworms, and they consume about four grams of food per day, about 12% of their body weight. Eastern Bluebirds also sit on elevated perches searching for insects. When they spot one, they’ll drop to the ground and capture it with their bill, a behavior known as “drop-hunting.”

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