Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
Eastern Bluebirds are small birds, blue above with rusty throats and chests and white bellies. Males have much brighter, deeper colors than females.
- Life History
Bluebird populations experienced an alarming decline starting in the 1930's. This was caused by loss of habitat, pesticides and competition for nesting sites by introduced house sparrows and starlings. Efforts by concerned citizens have resulted in an increase in the number of bluebirds through birdhouses and habitat improvements.
Male bluebirds usually arrive at their territories first and defend them vigorously against other male bluebirds. When courting, male bluebirds sing to, feed and preen females and show them the nest sites that they have picked out. The females make the final decision on where they want to nest. They usually nest two or three times during a season. Young bluebirds are born naked, eyes closed, and helpless. They rely on their parents for warmth.
The bluebird's diet consists of insects and fruit. They catch insects on the ground or in low vegetation, usually swooping on them from a perch. Young bluebirds are able to fly two to three weeks after hatching. Young from the previous brood sometimes help raise the next batch of nestlings. Bluebirds often band together in groups of up to 100 during the winter. Bluebirds live an average of 2 years in the wild, but have been known to live up to 8 - 10 years.
They prefer open woodlands, roadsides, farmlands and orchards.
Eastern Bluebirds breed in the eastern half of Texas, the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Bluebirds move to the southern end of their range during the winter.
Bluebirds have long been thought to be a lucky sign by humans. Bluebirds are native only to North America and have been cherished throughout Texas' history. Because of its sky blue feathers, the Navajo Indians considered this bird sacred. This beautiful creature has long been considered the harbinger of spring and a symbol of happiness, love and hope. When bluebird numbers dropped 90% this century, concerned individuals worked to stop the decline. Research by ordinary citizens showed that properly designed and placed nest boxes that were carefully monitored could help to increase local populations of bluebirds. Many groups have organized "bluebird trails" where lines of bluebird houses are monitored and maintained. Information collected about nesting success, parasitism and predation have helped us better understand what bluebirds need to survive!