Wildlife and Invasive Species Education (WISE) Species Profile: Eastern Bluebird

Common Name: Eastern Bluebird

Status: Native Species

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis

Occurrence: Year-round Species

Identification: One of the most iconic of perennial song birds found in Central Florida. Eastern Bluebirds are larger than common songbirds such as the Tufted Titmouse or Caroline Wren, reaching a length averaging 6 to 8″. Like the Northern Cardinal, the Eastern Bluebird is sexually dimorphic. Males look much different than females, which make them easy to differentiate from each other. Male Bluebirds have a rusty chest and throat and have brilliant blue feather in the back and on the cap of its head. Females do not have as much as a pronounced rusty chest as the males, while also having more white on the lower belly. Females do not exhibit the magnificent blue feathers as the males and do not have blue feathers as a cap on the head. Having said that, females are magnificently colored in their own respects. Note: The featured images is that of a male.

Description: You will quite often find bluebirds perched high scouting for food on powerlines or other perches near an open field. In most cases you will see a male and female, or even a host of Bluebirds than be in flocks of 5 to 10 individuals. Eastern Bluebirds are cavity nesters, they do not have open cup-shaped nests like a Brown Thrasher or Northern Mockingbird. Cavities can be in different plant species such as oaks or pines. Since the Eastern Bluebird cannot excavate its own tree cavity, it depends on sites created by other cavity-nesters, such as the red-bellied woodpecker. Males will find a nest, and then succeeds on attracting a suitable females, his job is done. The female then proceeds to finish nest-making. Females lay between 4 to 5 eggs and they will hatch in about 11 days. Nests may contain materials such as pine needles, grass, and other vegetation.

Diet: Eastern Bluebirds are mainly insectivores throughout most of the season, feeding on spiders, grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles. During the winter months, their diet changes to include fruit from holly, blueberries, and even mistletoe. It has been observed they will feast on a occasional snake, lizard, or frog if the opportunity present itself.

Interesting Facts:

  • Male Bluebirds are very territorial and will actively attack wanna-be home robbers such as Great-crested Flycatchers, Carolina Chickadees, and even European Starlings.
  • Nesting boxes created by humans in the 60’s and 70’s, assisted in this species gaining a foothold against competitors, thus building up their population.
  • Out of the three bluebird species in the United States, the Eastern Bluebird is the widely spread.

Cover Photo Credit: Jim E. Davis

References: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Bluebird




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Posted: December 31, 2021

Category: Conservation, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, Wildlife

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