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What Time is it in Nature: Eastern Bluebirds

October 8, 2012

Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) have been quite active at Prairie Ridge over the last few weeks!  Both young and adult birds have been spotted swooping in and out of the forest, taking advantage of plentiful food as we head into fall.

eastern bluebird male and female by Wikimedia Commons user snowmanradio

Eastern Bluebirds are medium sized thrushes.  Males are bright blue on top with a reddish brown throat and chest.  Females are a duller blue, with a grey head and brown markings on the chest.  Juveniles are quite abundant at Prairie Ridge right now, and are mostly brown with white spots along the head, back, and chest.  Juveniles are blue only on the wings.

Two-thirds of the Eastern Bluebird diet consists of insects and other invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, beetles, and worms.  The other third of their diet is berries.  Bluebirds feed on a variety of berries, but are likely dining on the abundant pokeberries, grapes, and poison ivy berries at Prairie Ridge.

Eastern Bluebirds can be quite social, sometimes forming large flocks in an area.  Both parents care for the young together, bringing their chicks a variety of insects to eat.  Sometimes even the fledglings help care for their younger siblings by remaining in the nest area and helping their parents gather food, a fascinating behavior.  However, males can be territorial during the mating season (spring) and when food is scarce (winter), so the species becomes much more solitary when resources are scarce.

The Eastern Bluebirds are everywhere at Prairie Ridge recently, so why not make a trip out to see them?  They’re especially abundant on the trees along the forest trail near the trailer, but look for them out on the prairie and along the entrance fence too.

What Time is it in Nature is a weekly feature highlighting the current plants, animals, and other wildlife at the Musuem’s public outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge Ecostation. Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons by snowmanradio, used under the Creative Commons license.

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