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"The bluebird is well named, for he wears a coat of the purest, richest, and most gorgeous blue on back, wings, and tail; no North American bird better deserves the name, for no other flashes before our admiring eyes so much brilliant blue. It has been said that he carries on his back the blue of heaven and the rich brown of the freshly turned earth on his breast; but who has ever seen the bluest sky as blue as the bluebird's back?" (Quote describing the eastern bluebird from the Arthur Cleveland Bent series on the Birds of North America.)

All three species of bluebirds can be found in New Mexico. Both the western and mountain bluebirds nest in the state with populations of both species increasing in the winter as birds from further north migrate into the state for the winter. An isolated resident population of eastern bluebirds can be found in the very far southwest corner of the state. Eastern bluebirds also migrate into the eastern half of the state in the winter.

Bluebirds are usually found in fields, open woodlands, parks or along golf courses or other open areas, including suburban locations with open spaces and scattered tress. In the mountains they are found in clearings and meadows. The mountain bluebird is well known for its hovering flight as it hawks for insects. The eastern bluebird has a musical flight call that often reveals its presence.

Male western bluebird

Red = summer range, Green = year-around, Blue = winter range


Male mountain bluebird

Red = summer range, Green = year-around, Blue = winter range


Male eastern bluebird

Red = summer range, Green = year-around, Blue = winter range

In The Backyard:
Bluebirds can be attracted to peanut butter mixes, suet and fruit. Raisins soaked in hot water to soften them are well received. The bluebird's special favorite is mealworms.

All three species of bluebirds nest in New Mexico, although the nesting range of the eastern bluebird is very limited. One, two and sometimes three broods may be produced in a single year. Clutch sizes vary slightly between the species. The mountain bluebird averages 4 - 6 eggs, the eastern bluebird 3 - 5 eggs and the western bluebird closer to 5 or 6. Eggs are pale blue or rarely white.

If you manage a bluebird house watch for house sparrows trying to use the next box and immediately remove any house sparrow nesting material.

Here's a colorful quote on eastern bluebird courtship, also from the Bent series.
The love-making of the bluebird is as beautiful as the bird itself, and normally as gentle, unless interrupted by some jealous rival who would steal his bride; then gentleness gives place to active combat. The male usually arrives a few days ahead of the female, selects what he considers to be a suitable summer home, and carols his sweetest, most seductive notes day after day until she appears in answer to his call. Then he flutters before her, displaying the charms of his widespread tail and half-opened wings, warbling in delicious, soft undertones, to win her favor. At first she seems indifferent to the gorgeous blue of his overcoat or the warm reddish brown of his ardent breast. He perches beside her, caresses her in the tenderest and most loving fashion, and sings to her in most endearing terms. Perhaps he may bring to her some delicious morsel and place it gently in her mouth, as an offering. Probably he has already chosen the cavity or box that he thinks will suit her; lie leads her to it, looks in, and tries to persuade her to accept it, but much persistent wooing is needed before the nuptial pact is sealed. In the meantime a rival male may appear upon the scene and a rough and tumble fight ensue, the males clinching in the air and falling to the ground together, a confusing mass of blue and brown feathers struggling in the grass; but no very serious harm seems to have been done, as they separate and use their most persuasive charms to attract the object of their rivalry. At times, a second female may join in the contest and start a lively fight with her rival for the mate she wants. John Burroughs (1894) gives an interesting account of such a four-cornered contest, too long to be quoted here, in which the female of an apparently mated pair seemed to waver in her affections between her supposed mate and the new rival; and the latter seemed to have left the female of his first choice to win the bride of the other. However, after a much prolonged contest, the matter seemed to be satisfactorily settled, for two pairs of bluebirds finally flew off in different directions and started up housekeeping without further trouble.

Visit the main Web site for information nest boxes and management, bluebird trails, range maps and much more on these popular birds. The Sam's Guide to Bluebirds CD-ROM and DVD provides complete information on bluebird trails, boxes, care and feeding and a whole lot more. - P.O. Box 181 - McKinney, TX 75070
Phone: 972-562-7432
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