Mountain Bluebird

Sialia currucoides
Range Map

There’s kinda blue, blueish, pretty darned blue, and then there is the Mountain Bluebird, the bluest of all. These birds range from Mexico in the winter to as far north as Alaska, and throughout the western U.S. and Canada.

Like their cousins, the Eastern and Western Bluebirds, these birds depend on cavities to raise their offspring. Competition for natural cavities has always been fierce among species such as wrens, woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees, and other birds. With the introduction of Starlings and House Sparrows in the late 1800s, it tipped the scales adversely for all native cavity nesting species. Fortunately, the use of man-made nest boxes has brought back some balance, and benefitted birds such as these Bluebirds.

Despite their common name, the Mountain Bluebird’s favored habitat is not always in the mountains. More important is the availability of open grasslands for foraging. During the breeding season, their diet is primarily insects. But in winter they will forage on berries, but if they can find them, they happily take bugs in that season too.

The first Mountain Bluebirds I met were overwintering birds in the grasslands near Ramona (California), a few miles inland and up-slope from my Poway home. My memories of those first birds, and the brilliance of those brightly colored males, still bring on a smile when I recall them.

Science regards these birds as monotypic (no subspecies recognised).

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