Eastern Bluebird Information, Photos, Artwork, and Facts
Gardeners love bluebirds because they are voracious insect eaters, and can quickly rid a garden of pests. Their blue and red plumage also makes them a delightful sight among the flowers.
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) exhibits fascinating colors and behavior patterns for the birdwatcher to enjoy. American Expedition is proud to present information, interesting facts about bluebirds, and photos of the Eastern Bluebird.
Eastern Bluebird Information
The eastern bluebird is a member in the genus Sialia of the thrush family. It is one of the few thrush genera in the Americas. Bluebirds are about 6 to 8 inches long, have a wingspan of 9 to 12 inches long, and weigh around 1 ounce. It displays very vibrant colors. The male is blue on top, has a reddish-orange throat and breast, and a white underside. The female sports the same colors, but they are not as bright.
Bluebirds are territorial, and build nests in cavities to protect their young (in a behavior similar to woodpeckers). The female bluebird may lay 3 to 8 pale blue eggs at one time and then incubates them alone. During this time, the male bluebird takes responsibility for gathering food. The eggs hatch after 2 weeks, and the nestlings will open their eyes within 4 to 6 days. The chicks are ready to leave the nest within 18-20 days of hatching, but if this was an early brood one bird may stay back with its parents to help with the next brood. Bluebirds can produce between two and four broods during the spring and summer. Bluebird flocks migrate to the southeastern United States and Mexico during winter. These birds have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years in the wild.
Wild bluebird numbers had been in decline, due to the destruction of their habitat and competition with invasive species like house sparrows and starlings. However, in recent years bluebird sightings have been on the rise. This upswing is the result of a movement of volunteers establishing and maintaining bluebird trails.
Eastern Bluebird Facts
- Bluebird eggs are pale blue most of the time. Occasionally a bird will lay a white one.
- Nests are made of grass, pine needles, fur, and twigs.
- Bluebirds are family oriented birds.
- Bluebirds have faced competition with invasive sparrows and starlings for nesting spaces.
- Bluebirds can reach speeds up to 17 miles per hour in flight.
- Bluebirds are only found, and are native to, North America.
- Bluebirds are not strong enough to make holes inside of trees to build their nests. They will often take up abandoned nest cavities of other birds, such as woodpeckers.
- Bluebirds are considered harbingers of spring, and have been featured prominently in many popular songs and books, notably the songs "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz, and the Maurice Maeterlinck fairy tale "The Blue Bird," about the Bluebird of Happiness.
- Bluebirds will eat shelled sunflower chips, but otherwise they rarely eat commercial birdseed.
- Many stores sell nestboxes specially designed for bluebirds. It is a good idea to place these boxes near a garden so the birds can help you control insects.
- Bluebirds love to bathe and play in heated backyard birdbaths during the winter.
Eastern Bluebird Habitat
In accord with their name, the eastern bluebird inhabits the eastern part of the United States. They live around forest openings, pastures, and fields, as well as backyards and golf courses.
What Do Bluebirds Eat?
Eastern Bluebirds are a mostly omnivorous and insectivorous member of the thrush family. The bird is a favorite among gardeners because in addition to their lovely colors, they provide a highly effective, natural source of insect control. In fact, in the days before pesticides, farmers erected bluebird houses next to their crops to control insects. While bluebirds are typically ground feeders, they are also attracted to feeders filled with mealworm grubs as well as raisins soaked in water. They also enjoy berries, wild fruits, and seeds during the fall to store energy for their migrations. They will sometimes eat shelled sunflower chips from feeders, but otherwise they rarely eat commercial birdseed.
Tips For Attracting Eastern Bluebirds
- Houses for Eastern Bluebirds should have a hole opening of about 1-1/2" in diameter. Western and Mountain Bluebird houses should have a hole around 1-9/16".
- It is a good idea to place bluebird houses near the garden so the birds can help you control insects.
- You can encourage bluebird nesting by providing a heated birdbath nearby, and a feeder with mealworms or raisins that have been soaked in water.
- Make sure to purchase a bluebird house that is light in color and place it in a shady location. Dark colored houses can get too hot in the sun.
- Bluebird houses should be constructed of wood. Bluebirds especially like cedar and plywood.
- Make sure that the opening of your bluebird house does not directly face sunlight during the day.
- Provide housing for sparrows nearby. If you don't provide housing for sparrows, they may wind up harassing the bluebirds.
- To help young bluebirds learn to fly, face the hole opening of your bluebird house towards trees or shrubs so the birds have a place to land.
- Avoid placing bluebird houses in heavily wooded areas.
- The best time to clean your bluebird house is at the end of the summer, after the bluebirds have migrated south.
- If you live in an area where bluebirds do not migrate, do not disturb your bluebird house during the winter. Bluebirds may be gathered together for warmth inside.
Above, an Eastern Bluebird sings.
Male bluebirds are in charge of gathering nesting materials for the female, who arranges them into the nest.
Bluebirds need a nearby source of water to be encouraged to take up roost.
Eastern bluebirds can reach a speed of up to 17 miles per hour while in flight.
Bluebirds are only found, and are native to, North America.
Bluebirds are loved by gardeners not only for their insect control capabilities, but also for their bright colors.
Bluebirds are loyal and very dedicated to their families.
Bluebirds are territorial, and build nests in cavities to protect their young. You can provide sanctuary for bluebirds by erecting a bluebird house.
The eastern bluebird is known by several other names: the American bluebird, Wilson's bluebird, and the common bluebird.
It is a good idea to place bluebird houses near the garden so the birds can help you control insects.
Bluebird houses should be constructed of wood. Bluebirds especially like cedar and plywood.