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Mountain Nature Network has become THE place for learning about the birds of the Canadian Rockies.

Mountain Bluebird
Sialia currucoides

Kinglets, Bluebirds and Thrushes
Thrush Family (Turdidae)

Size: Length: 16-18 cm Wingspan: None

Description: The mountain bluebird is a beautiful resident of the Rockies. Males are a deep blue colour, with dark blue forehead, nape, back, tail and wings. The cheek, chin and breast are a somewhat lighter in tone. The belly is white.

Females are more drably coloured, with an olive green head, breast and back. The wings, tail and rump have a blue tint.

Similar Species: The western bluebird may be mistaken for the mountain bluebird, but it has definite chestnut coloured patches on its breast and shoulder. The mountain bluebird lacks these patches.

Range: Mountain bluebirds occur throughout western Canada and the United States. They may be seen using nest boxes along the Canadian and northern U.S. Rockies during the summer, and may be seen year-round through the southern U.S. Rockies.

Habitat: The mountain bluebird is quite common along foothills fence lines where programs of nest boxes have helped the mountain bluebird return from the brink. Look for them along agricultural fields where there are plenty of insects. You may also find them in open areas of forest, edges of fields, and forest fire sites.

Diet: They eat insects, often hovering, or dropping from their perch to collect them. They are fond of grass hoppers, beetles, worms, caterpillars, and just about anything else that wriggles.

Nesting: During the early part of the 20th century, the mountain bluebird was quickly disappearing from much of its range. Introduced species like the house sparrow and the European starling are very aggressive at obtaining natural cavities as nest sites. This left the bluebird with few places to nest.

Like these competitors, they build their nest in cavities such as hollow logs, former woodpecker holes. Within these cavities, they build a cup-shaped nest of grass, plant stems, roots and bark. The female lays 4-8 pale blue eggs. Incubation is largely by the female, with the altricial nestlings hatching after 13-14 days. They are born with closed eyes which open after four or five days. In the southern part of their range, they are occasionally double-brooded.

Related Links:

The Ellis Bird Farm has, since the 1950's been instrumental in the conservation of mountain bluebird populations in Alberta. Through a program of nest boxes, which has spread around much of the province of Alberta, the mountain bluebird has shown a great resiliency, returning to much of its previous range.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005



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