|Species: Mountain Bluebird
The Mountain Bluebird is a thrush of
western North America. It is striking and charismatic and is one of
the most beautiful birds of the west.
Its range is from Alaska, northern B.C and Alberta, to central
Manitoba, south to the mountains of southern California and east to
western Oklahoma. It winters in the southern parts of its breeding
area and in Mexico.
General: This is a sleek bluebird with long wings, tail and
legs. It has a thin bill. It is sexually dimorphic in plumage
colour. Length 16.5-20cm. Weight 29g.
Adult Male: Cerulean to turquoise blue above with paler
lighter blue breast, white belly and vent. Wing tips are dusky. Legs
are black, and a thin black beak. Irises are black with a very pale
Adult Female: Plain ashy-gray overall with a touch of pale
cerulean blue on the rump, tail, and flight feathers; white
eye-ring; white vent; and sometimes a faint malar streak.
Juvenile: Like adult female but darker and duller; breast and
sides streaked with grayish brown, the center of each feather with a
Similar Species: The Mountain Bluebird has a straighter
posture and lacks the rusty chestnut on the breast and shoulders of
the Western Bluebird. The male Western Bluebird is deep purple-blue,
the female brownish gray. The Eastern Bluebird has chestnut breast
with shorter, thicker bill and shorter wings. The male Eastern
Bluebird is bright deep blue, the female grayer blue.
Behaviour: This bluebird hovers low over the ground and drops
down to catch insects, or darts out from a tree branch, rock or
other elevated position, flycatcher fashion, to catch insects. Feeds
heavily on insects and also eats some berries, which are
particularly important in winter.
Habitat: Open areas where mountain meadows and pastures are
interspersed with loose stands or single coniferous trees. Open
rangeland, sagebrush and lowland prairies as well as alpine zones
above the tree line. Often found in flocks in winter.
The Mountain Bluebird lives in more open terrain than the other two
bluebirds. It may nest in holes in cliffs or dirt banks when tree
hollows are not available. It is an opportunistic species that reap
huge increases in its populations when people clear forests, raise
grazing livestock and erect nest boxes. They readily accept nest
boxes, which also make this species vulnerable to human-associated
hazards such as pets, vandals, and dense rodent populations. Most of
what is known about this species is based on studies of nest-box
populations, not natural ones. Pairs produce 4-6 pale greenish-blue
Conservation: Populations appear to be stable throughout the
Although appropriate habitat at Colony Farm, Mountain
Bluebird breeding range doesn't extend to coastal areas of
British Columbia. These bluebirds are seen passing through
on their way north and west as reflected by the capture
rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net
hours) in April.