Bluebirds: Fun Facts
Though their name is a bit misleading, bluebirds have fascinated birders for years. Just look at the many ways bluebirds distinguish themselves from other birds.
- All bluebirds are cavity nesters and will use an artificial nest box. Habitat and nest cavities had been disappearing for many years, but bluebird populations have steadily increased for the past few decades due to thousands of bluebird nest boxes being installed across the country.
- Bluebirds may raise two and sometimes three broods per season. Pairs may build their second nests in the same cavity as the first nest or they may nest in an entirely new site. The male continues to take care of the recently fledged young while the female begins to re-nest. Young from the first brood will occasionally help raise their siblings in the second brood.
- Males may carry nest material to the nest, but they do not participate in the actual building. They spend much of that time guarding their mates to prevent them from mating with other males.
- Adult bluebirds tend to return to the same breeding territory year after year, but only a small percentage (3-5%) of young birds return to where they hatched.
- A bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 50 yards.
- Bluebirds have no blue pigments in their feathers. Instead, each feather barb has a thin layer of cells that absorb all wavelengths of color except blue. Only the blue wavelength is reflected and scattered, resulting in their blue appearance to our eyes.
- Bluebirds can fly at speeds up to 45 miles per hour if necessary.
- Bluebirds are primarily insect eaters especially when nesting. Offer live or dried mealworms, but do not place near the nesting site.