It’s that time of year again – Bluebird season! One of the most exciting and looked-forward to events of the year, is the first sighting of the bright little birds in the spring as they return to their summer breeding grounds from their winter homes in the southern states and central America. I love seeing their round little bodies flitting around as it makes me feel like spring has TRULY arrived. The males in their beautiful bright sky-blue plumage, and their mates in the more muted slate color are both welcome sights!
There are several different bluebird classifications. Here in western Montana, we see the Mountain Bluebird. A type of thrush, they thrive on berries and insects, but hunt them from “above” unlike most thrush species. They like to perch and then pounce on their prey, or sometimes they’ll fly above & dive quickly, much like a little kestrel.
Their habitat is nearly always in higher elevations where there is less competition with other Bluebird types. Bluebirds like to nest in small cavities which they find in old trees, sometimes old Woodpecker holes. They also look for nests abandoned by other birds, cavities in rocks on cliffs, etc. The female chooses her home site and begins building her nest inside, sometimes with help from her mate, out of grasses, twigs, pine needles and even fur or feathers.
Building or buying a Bluebird house can afford you many hours of entertainment from watching the little families settle in and raise their broods (2 per year). If you have room, and can place several of these around, you have a start on your own “Bluebird Trail”. Just remember that this DOES require a small commitment on your part: You must clean the nests out each spring before the birds arrive. There are guidelines on how far apart boxes should be and cautions on location (predators – i.e., dogs or cats etc – can be very detrimental). Check out some of the resources below if you think you might be interested. You can even become a Bluebird watcher, noting dates of first sighting, dates of babies being born, etc. And then that information can be provided to the Mountain Bluebird Trails group which monitors the avians. See their information below.