Friday, March 16, 2012

Mountain Bluebird

Sialia currucoides (male)
Spring has arrived (for now), and the songbirds have returned to my neck of the woods. Now, to be fair, today's bird doesn't live anywhere near me, but I'm sure they are fluttering around by some of my western readers. Allow me to introduce you to the Mountain Bluebird, the state bird of both Idaho and Nevada.

Mountain Bluebirds come in different colors, depending on the sex of the bird. Females are a dull brownish-grey, with hints of light blue on the wings and tail. Males, on the other hand, are a very bright blue all around, with the underparts lighter than the top. They use their colors, their calls, and their carefully scouted nest locations, to attract mates.

When it comes to nesting habits, most of what we know comes from the birds that raise their young in man-made nest boxes. Females do almost all of the actual nest building, as the males for some reason tend to drop the materials en route to the site (and that's if they even help at all!). Thankfully, the males make up for their lack of building expertise by being great food providers. They deliver meals to the mother and their chicks. Mountain Bluebirds feed on insects, hovering in the air or waiting on a perch before swooping down for a catch.

The species has a very large range, and thanks to all the man-made nest boxes, the birds are doing quite well for themselves. Once upon a time their numbers were decreasing due to the nest site competition caused by habitat loss, but now the population is stable and the bird are listed as being of Least Concern.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Western North America
Size : Body Length up to 8in (20cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Turdidae -- Genus : Sialia -- Species : S. currucoides

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