Vancouver Avian Research Centre

.....Research - Conservation - Education
Species: Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
 
 

Description:

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.

Identification:

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 eye ring.

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 white spot.

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.

Information:

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 eggs.

Conservation: Populations appear to be stable throughout the breeding range.
 
Capture Rates


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.

 

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