8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Bluebirds

Get to know this trio of close-knit, grub-loving fliers.

JOHN PIZNIUR

1. Eastern bluebirds are particular about the homes they raise their young in. They like snug boxes with a 4-inch-square base and a 1¾-inch-diameter entry hole.

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2. True to their name, some mountain bluebirds spend the breeding season in high elevations, up to 12,500 feet above sea level. From mountain meadows and prairies, they move into juniper woods and deserts during winter.

3. North America is home to three species: eastern bluebirds in the East, and both western and mountain bluebirds (shown above) in the West. It’s possible to see both eastern and westerns in a very small portion of the Southwest.

4. A western bluebird barely tips the 
scale at just one ounce. 
To keep their slim figures, they eat about 15 calories a day, or 23 if they are caring for a brood.

5. Mountain bluebirds are very social and form flocks of 30 or more after the breeding season. Groups consist of one or more breeding pairs and their fledglings, plus single adults.

6. To attract bluebirds, keep your birdbath full and set out mealworms. There are two ways to serve mealworms: Live is best, but dried is more convenient.

CHRISTINE ZIEGLER

7. Eastern bluebirds (shown above) have exceptional vision. They search for tiny bugs to hunt from up to 60 feet away.

8. Most birds mate for a breeding season or nesting period, but that kind of monogamy is less appealing to western bluebirds. Researchers discovered that 45 percent of nests held young that were not fathered by the male who defended the nest, and 19 percent of all chicks were not the defending male’s.

Next, read: What You Should Do If You Find a Bird Nest