Eastern bluebird

Sialia sialis

TAXONOMY

Sialia sialis Linnaeus, 1758. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Merlebleu de l'est; German: Rotkehl-Huttensanger; Spanish: Azulejo.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

7.1 in (18 cm); 1.1 oz (31 g). Males have bright blue upperparts; reddish brown chin, throat, breast, sides, and flanks; and a white belly and undertail coverts. Females have gray upperparts; blue wings, rump, and tail; and paler chestnut where the male is reddish brown. Juveniles have gray-brown upperparts with white spotting on the back, a brownish chest with white scalloping, bluish tail and wings, and white belly and undertail coverts.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern North America, north to Hudson Bay, west to Arizona, south to Bermuda, Florida, and Mexico.

HABITAT

Open woodland, farmland with scattered trees, orchards, gardens with trees and shrubberies.

BEHAVIOR

In pairs or family groups, perching upright on exposed branch or post or tree top. Gregarious in winter, often forming large flocks and roosting communally.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds largely on small insects from ground, foliage, or caught in the air; also eats fruits and berries.

Les Differents Paysages Francais

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nests in tree hole or hollow branch, increasingly in artificial nest boxes; nest constructed of grass, weeds, pine needles, and twigs by the female; three to seven eggs; incubation 12-14 days; chicks fledge after 15-19 days; two or three broods.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Decreased by up to 90% in twentieth century after competition for nest holes from introduced house sparrows and starlings; increased locally after nest box provision became popular.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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