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Eastern Bluebird

Scientific name: Sialia sialis

This native thrush has earned its name from the vibrant blue on its head and back. Note the small beak and head, rusty chest, and plump body. The photo shows the female and the male. As is usually the case with birds, the females’ colors are less bright and more subdued.

The bluebird as a symbol is found in cultures around the world.  The French employed it in folkloric tales (happiness), the Russians in fairy tales (hope). Several Native American tribes incorporated it into its mythology.

Photos on this page are courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.


1 ounce


7 inches

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Insects, fruits and berries


Open meadows and grasslands

Life Cycle

In spring, the male seeks to attract the female to a nesting cavity by waving his brightly colored wings. While the female builds the nest over a course of days, both the male and female participate in the raising of the young. The same pair can remain together over the course of several seasons.


This is a very interesting case.

Our local bluebirds that breed here in the summer months migrate south for the winter. However, you will see bluebirds here in the winter (as in the photos below, where they are hunting for berries). They have come to us from Canada!  There is no way to tell them apart other than their love of Tim Hortons and ketchup and potato chips :-)….

Ecosystem Connections

The blue bird depends on another animal to make a cavity for its nest. Sometimes they will use old woodpecker holes.

Human Connections

The Eastern bluebird is the state bird of New York.

How You Can Help

Consider putting up a bluebird box in very early spring. The bluebird needs a nesting cavity and you can provide this and enjoy watching the pair raise their young.

For more information on how to build and place your own bluebird box, click here

Fun Facts

The bluebird has inspired songwriters and poets. Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Before You Thought of Spring”  uses the bluebird as an expression of joy. And the famous tune, “There will be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover”, was written during the dark days of World War II, envisioning a time of peace. Most common to the American experience are the lyrics, “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly”.

Our Native Birds at Risk

American songbirds have declined in population by almost 50% from 1966 to 2015.  To learn more, the please read this   article in National Geographic Magazine.

Similar Species

The indigo bunting is another brightly colored bird found locally.

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