What’s that flash of bright blue in the trees?
If you’re out camping or hiking in the mountains of western North America, you might be delighted to see a shot of cerulean darting through the trees. You could be witnessing the spectacular mountain bluebird.
This bright-colored bird is a type of thrush. The males exhibit vivid blue plumage, while females are grayish with blue tints, particularly on their wings and tail. The mountain bluebird is the bluest of all bluebird species, according to Animalia.
Also called the Arctic bluebird, the mountain bluebird (or Sialia currucoides) is a small migratory bird with a light underbelly, bright-blue wings, and a black beak. Breeding as far north as Alaska and migrating as far south as Mexico, this bluebird can be spotted not only in mountain forests but anywhere that provides an ideal nesting pocket.
They are known for nesting in small cavities and nest boxes, in locations ranging from hollowed-out trees to prairies and meadows—anywhere they can find a comfortable nook well away from predators.
The mountain bluebird has even been known to nest in rural backyards. By erecting a box nest in a safe location, families can even attract a mating pair.
Box nests have been an important strategy in areas where the mountain bluebird population declined due to a significant decrease in open acreage in western North America. Fortunately, the mountain bluebird is no longer an endangered species, as the population is on the rise.
The bluebirds bond in pairs and are monogamous maters. Males are the first to arrive at breeding grounds, where they select a nest site, and they attract a mate by flying around the nest site and calling. The mating season starts in April and ends in September.
If you have a garden and are interested in attracting bluebirds, this can be a fantastic approach for controlling pests that would otherwise eat your plants. Just be sure to protect your berry harvest with bird netting; mountain bluebirds love berries, including blackcurrant and juniper.