Mountain Bluebird, Life History, All About Birds - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Mountain bluebird

Mountain bluebird

Measurements

Both Sexes Length6.3-7.9 in
16-20 cmWeight1.1 oz
30 g Relative Size < / h6> Slightly larger than Cassin's Finch, significantly smaller than an American Robin Other Names Merlebleu azuré (French) / li> During the breeding season, Mountain Bluebirds seek out open areas with a mix of short grasses, shrubs, and trees, at elevations of up to 12,500 feet above sea level.

They gravitate towards prairie and tundra edges, meadows, sagebrush flats, alpine hillsides, pastures, and recently burned or clearcut areas. Along roadsides, they seek out nest boxes or nesting cavities that face away from roads. Mountain Bluebirds winter at lower elevations-in meadows, hedgerows, prairies, and flat grasslands with few scattered trees and bushes, pinyon-juniper and oak-juniper woodlands, and agricultural areas. They avoid the most arid desert habitats.

Food

Mountain Bluebirds mostly eat insects, especially during breeding season. Beetles, grasshoppers, and especially caterpillars top the menu. In winter they go after small fruits, seeds, and insects when available. Commonly eaten plant items include grapes, currants, elderberries, cedar berries, and the seeds of sumac, mistletoe, and hackberry. Spiders are also an important part of the adult diet. Nesting Facts Nesting Facts Clutch Size4-8 eggsNumber of Broods1-2 broodsEgg Length0

Nesting Facts .7-1 in
1.9-2.5 cmEgg Width0.6-0.7 in
1.6-1.7 cmIncubation Period13 daysNestling Period18-21 daysEgg DescriptionPale blue to bluish white, rarely pure white, and paler than those laid by other bluebirds. Condition at HatchingUnfeathered, helpless.

Nest Description

Nest Placement

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Males scout out possible nest cavities; females choose. Because studies have focused on nest boxes, ornithologists know relatively little about Mountain Bluebirds' preferences among natural nesting cavities. Males show interest in all cavities within their territory, from knotholes to small rock fissures. Generally they prefer dry cavities in open grassland within 3 feet of the ground, with entrails oriented away from approaching storms. They will also nest on cliffs and buildings.

Credits
  • Dunne, P. 2006. Pete Dunne's essential field guide companion. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Lukas, D. 2011. Sierra Nevada Birds: A Compact Field Guide Companion. Lukas Guides, Big Oak Flat, California.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2016. The State of North America's Birds 2016. Environment and Climate Change Canada: Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.
  • Power, H.W. and M.P. Lombard. 1996. Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) . In The Birds of North America Online, No. 222 (A. Poole, Ed.). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
  • Sauer, J.R., J.E. Hines, J.E. Fallon, K.L. Pardieck, D.J. Ziolkowski, Jr., and W.A. Link. 2016. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966-2015, Version 01.30.2015. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
  • USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. 2013. Attracting bluebirds and other cavity nesting songbirds in North Dakota: establishing bluebird trails.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2016. Longevity records of North American Birds.