Eastern Bluebird

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Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird
Photo by: 
Paul Ruehle

I had seen Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) before, but not in my yard, so when I looked out my window and saw a male and female in our Redbud tree, I was really excited. I called my children over so that they could see the state bird of Missouri and New York.

Bluebirds can be found in our area year round. The male bluebird is brilliant blue on his back with a rust colored chest and a white belly. The female is much grayer and paler than the male. Like other members of the thrush family, they eat primarily insects during the summer and fruits and berries during the winter.

Historically, bluebirds used to be as common in backyards as robins. Many factors including habitat de- struction, harsh winters and the introduction of House Sparrows and European Starlings to North America, caused their numbers to drop alarmingly.

Concerned bluebird lovers started putting out nest boxes in hopes of providing alternative nesting sites and it worked; bluebird numbers are on the rise. If your yard is more open and you don’t put insecticide on your lawn you should try putting out a bluebird box. Remember, be a good landlord and kick out the sparrow or starlings. Other native birds like wrens or tree swallows that might nest in the box should not be disturbed and are in fact protected by law.

In our area, the search for nesting sites begins in March, so have your boxes up by the end of February. Bluebirds can nest up to three times each summer, but they may not use the same box for each nesting.

Don’t forget to provide food and water. This is especially true in winter, when most natural forms of water are frozen over and the only water that is available is a heated birdbath. Our customers have had success feeding mealworms especially during the nesting season with hungry little ones. Sunflower chips, suet, and raisins that have been soaked in water have also been successful.

By Ruth Simmons

SPRING 2006


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