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Eastern Bluebird

From Opus

Photo by GaryTWellsboro, Pennsylvania, May 2006
Photo by GaryT
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, May 2006
Sialia sialis


[edit] Identification

Length 16·5–21 cm (6½-8¼ in), Wingspan 33cm (13 in)

  • Blue upperparts
  • Orange throat, sides of neck, and chest
  • White belly
  • Blackish tips on tail
  • Black eyes and legs

Female: similar, but drabber, with rusty colour in place of orange, and grey nape
Juvenile: has speckled breast.

[edit] Similar Species

Similar to Western Bluebird, which has a blue throat. Belly and undertail whiter, not as grey.

[edit] Distribution

Eastern Bluebirds are found east of the Rockies, southern Canada to the Gulf States and south-eastern Arizona and south to Nicaragua.
A rare vagrant in Cuba.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

JuvenilePhoto by JosefRapid City, South Dakota, August 2009
Photo by Josef
Rapid City, South Dakota, August 2009

This is a polytypic species, consisting of seven subspecies in two groups[1]:

Photo by KC FogginMyrtle Beach South Carolina, July 2012
Photo by KC Foggin
Myrtle Beach South Carolina, July 2012

Eastern Group

  • S. s. sialis:
  • S. s. bermudensis:

Guatemala Group

  • S. s. fulva:
  • Mountains of south-central Arizona to southern Mexico (Guerrero); winters to Guatemala
  • S. s. nidificans:
  • Mexico (south-western Tamaulipas to central Veracruz)
  • S. s. guatemalae:
  • Southern Mexico (Chiapas) and Guatemala
  • S. s. meridionalis:
  • S. s. caribaea:
  • Eastern Honduras and north-eastern Nicaragua

[edit] Habitat

Found in open stands of mature pine woods and dead trees, farmlands and orchards.

[edit] Behaviour

FledglingPhoto by STEFFRO1Shallow Creek bay, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, October 2017
Photo by STEFFRO1
Shallow Creek bay, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, October 2017

The bright blue breeding plumage of the male, makes it easy to see when perched on a wire or open perch, prior to fluttering down to the ground to feed.

[edit] Diet

The diet consists of insects such as grasshoppers, crickets or beetles during the summer with fruit and berries added in the autumn and winter months. Feeds mostly in open to semi-open areas.
Defends its feeding areas in winter, even when in flocks.

[edit] Breeding

Breeding season mainly from March to August with a peak in April in all areas. Most populations are double-brooded, however birds in boreal Canada and Florida are mostly single-brooded, while in the south of its range many pairs breed three times a year (with records of up to five broods in one season). A monogamous species, but polygyny and polyandry occur. Can be a semi-colonial nester if the opportunity arises.
The nest is a loose cup made of grass and/or pine needles. It's placed in cavities including bird houses. Lays 3 to 7 eggs. 13 to 14 days incubation period is followed by 18 to 19 days nestling period.
Brood parasitism by Cowbirds occurs but is low.

[edit] Movements

Northern populations migrate south in small groups, sometimes in flocks of several hundreds. A diurnal migrant.
Migrating birds arrive in their breeding grounds from late February to mid-May and leave again from late September to October or mid-November. In Central America residents move to lower altitudes in winter.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved September 2016)
  3. Wikipedia

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