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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A closer look at the Eastern Bluebird

Get to know your birds before the Great Backyard Birdcount (#GBBC)  

"The Bluebird carries the sky on its back" -- Henry David Thoreau

It would be hard to find anything as dazzling as a Bluebird standing on a fence post in the early morning sun. Its brilliant blue plumage might even be said to rival the sky itself. Too bad it's just one big illusion! Bluebirds aren't really blue, they just look blue to the eye!

Most bird colorations are due to pigments deposited in their feathers. A Northern Cardinal is red because of the red pigment called carotenoids. Crows are black because their feathers contain a dark pigment called melanin. In contrast, Bluebirds do not have a single molecule of blue pigment in any of their feathers. So where does that brilliant blue color come from?

The answer is that the color is not produced by a pigment, but by the structure of the feather. The top transparent layer of each blue feather is filled with minuscule pockets of air. When sunlight strikes these pockets, all of the other visible wavelengths of light are absorbed. Only blue escapes and it is scattered in all directions. This same scattering process, created by atmospheric dust particles, is also what makes the sky appear blue.

At the feeders Bluebirds love to eat mealworms, suet, nuts and seed cylinders. They also appreciate open water in the winter. If you have a pond or heated birdbath they may show up for afternoon drinks.

Source: WBU Bird of the month: http://www.wbu.com/botm/botm_0308.html

Related Articles:
- Some Clever, Unusual, Bizarre, and Interesting Bird Nests http://bit.ly/ynd5DV
- Bird Nest Basics http://bit.ly/y6qTdO
- Feeding and Raising Bluebirds http://bit.ly/wIDdTQ
- How to Attract Bluebirds: http://bit.ly/nfCq2b
- 5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses: http://bit.ly/oBBA0d
- When is the best time to put up a bird house?: http://bit.ly/nq6z7d

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