A true blue Trio
Birds & Blooms|February/March 2022
Find out which of the three North American bluebirds call your area home, and learn how to win them over with the right food and habitat.
By Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman, Photography by Stanley45/Getty Images

One look at a bluebird with its vibrant colors, and it's easy to see why the birds rank near the top of any list of best-loved birds. Classified as thrushes, a family found worldwide, the three bluebird species are unique to North America.

All three are medium-small songbirds that live in open habitats. Male bluebirds are more brightly colored than females, and juveniles wear a pattern of spots, reflecting their thrush ancestry. Insects make up most of their summer diet, but the birds wander in flocks in winter, eating small fruits and berries.

THE CLASSIC: EASTERN BLUEBIRD

The most widespread member of this trio is the eastern bluebird. In summer, it lives throughout southeastern Canada and in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. A separate population is found from southern Arizona through Mexico and into Central America.

Many eastern bluebirds migrate in fall, and the species becomes more common in central and southern states in winter. A few stay through the cold months, as far north as Canada. These wintering bluebirds move around the countryside in small flocks, gathering to feed on the fruits of poison ivy, dogwood, holly, and other vines and trees.

Eastern bluebirds are easy to identify by their upright posture, color pattern and thin, straight bills. Adult males are deep blue on the head, back, wings and tail; rusty orange on the chest; and white on the lower belly. Adult females have the same pattern in muted colors.

EARTH TONES: WESTERN BLUEBIRD

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