Named for its brilliant blue plumage that flashes in flight, the eastern bluebird has a rust-coloured throat, breast and sides, a white belly and a thin black beak. The female is paler and duller than the male and has more prominent grey tones and white eye-rings. Unlike most other species of songbird, the female does sing out, although not as frequently as the male. The eastern bluebird’s song is a series of warbling, melodious whistles, and it can produce a large variety of brief low-pitched notes.
The female lays three to six eggs and incubates them for approximately two weeks. The baby birds are mostly fed by the male and typically leave the nest within 20 days. The eastern bluebird has two broods in a season.
There are three bluebird species: eastern, western and mountain. All three are members of the thrush family.
Habitat and behaviour
A favourite of birdwatchers, the eastern bluebird can be found in orchards, gardens, parks, fields, clear-cut zones, burned-over areas, woodlands and the margins of swamps. It builds its nest in old woodpecker holes, cavities in stumps and birdhouses, using dried grasses, pine needles and fine twigs.
About 70 percent of the bird’s diet is insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, caterpillars and mealworms. The remainder of its diet is made up of vegetation, such as mulberries, blackberries, wild grape, Virginia creeper, pokeberries and sumac seeds.
Within Canada, the normal range extends from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia, with populations occasionally found in Alberta. Outside the country, the species spans south all the way to Central America. In Ontario, the eastern bluebird is estimated to number 44,000.