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Eastern Bluebird

 
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Sialia
Species: sialis
 

Eastern Bluebird, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, The Book of Birds, Henry Henshaw, 1921
 
Allan Brooks
 
La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
La. turdus a thrush
Gr. sialis a kind of bird
About seven inches long. Blue head, neck, back, rump and tail. Reddish brown, throat, breast and flanks. Grayish blue belly. Black beak and eyes.
Eastern Bluebirds inhabit forest edges, groves and small tree stands, open country, farms and towns throughout eastern North America from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Coast north to Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia south to Mexico and the southwestern U.S. in southern New Mexico and Arizona. Migrates to the southern states and Mexico in winter.
 

    USGS Eastern Bluebirds Map
 

Builds scanty nests of grass and feathers in natural or abandoned tree and post hollows, cliff crevices, barns and other building nooks and crannies, mail boxes, and many in bird houses placed specifically for this favorite of birds.

Lays four to six bluish white eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks. Usually raise two broods in a season.
 

From fence or low tree perches where they spot insects on the ground they dart after beetles, spiders, caterpillars and grasshoppers. In the autumn the eat berries and other odd fruit.

The popularity of the Blue bird is due, in addition to its beauty, its display of affection. The male perpetually seeks the company of the female, courting her with his pretty love songs, feeding her insects and chasing rivals from their domain.

Eastern Bluebird, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, The Book of Birds, Henry Henshaw, 1921

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

 
Habitat loss and competition with introduced English Sparrows and Starlings caused measurable population decline until their appeal inspired widespread interest in bluebird nestboxes. Their rebound is a great example of successful intervention. 
Nestbox for Eastern Bluebirds
Eastern Bluebird Nestbox
 

 

 

Nestbox Plans for Eastern Bluebird & Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker & Eastern Bluebird Nestbox

 
The bluebird house plans on the left for an Eastern Bluebird have a 4" by 4" floor, 9" inside ceiling, 1 1/2" diameter entrance hole located 7" above the floor, ventilation openings through the floor and under the roof, and a hinged roof for monitoring.. In areas where the Eastern Bluebird range overlaps that of the Mountain Bluebird, use the larger Mountain Bluebird Nestbox which will accommodate both birds.

Chickadees, titmice, wrens, nuthatches and downy woodpeckers may use this box. Mount bluebird houses 3 to 6 feet high on a post in woodland clearings, shel
ter belt edges bordering fields, among scattered trees, or pasture fence lines.

Eastern Bluebirds will also nest in this slightly larger Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Nestbox with an entrance opening of the same size. Measurements are 5" by 5" square base, 12" to the ceiling with a 1.5" inch hole centered 10" above the floor - inside dimensions. 

Other woodpeckers, fly catchers, and even titmice and nuthatches may use this nestbox.

 
Make a "bluebird trail" of several houses about 100 yards apart; further in wide open expanses and closer in clearings of wooded areas.
 
Monitor the boxes for unwanted squatters. Deter predators with steel posts or sheet metal wrapped around wood posts. Avoid shade, but also avoid direct sunlight through the entrance if possible.

On fence lines mount houses on the sides of posts facing the next post. The recessed position helps avoid cattle or other large animals that like to rub against them.

Eastern Bluebird, Robert Bruce Horsfall, A Year with the Birds, Alice E. Ball, 1916

R. Bruce Horsfall
 

Tree Swallow Nestboxes placed between bluebird nest boxes invite good neighbors that will help defend against sparrows, but the bird houses also invite sparrows, so monitor the swallow houses as well as the bluebird houses.

 


Eastern Bluebird Song, F. Schuyler Mathews

 

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