The eastern bluebird is Missouri's state bird. This small beautiful bird with its sweet distinctive voice is native to Missouri and remains in Southeast Missouri year-round. Its range extends through most of the eastern half of the U.S. and into Central America. It summers in a limited area of southern Canada and never appears in South America.
The bluebird pictured here flew up and perched beside me as I waited to photograph deer. Without notice a small flock of about 10 bluebirds suddenly claimed the small tree directly in front of me. They busily searched the limbs for spiders and other insects to eat and within a minute they flew on. This one is either a female or a juvenile male as evidenced by the dull gray-blue of its head. An adult male will have a much bluer head.
Woodpecker holes make good nest cavities for eastern bluebirds, but they will readily accept a man-made bluebird house nailed to a fence post. A wooden nest box with a nesting cavity only 4 inches squareand an entry hole about 1 1/2 inches in diameter will meet the approval of a nesting bluebird pair. Now is the time of year to think about building a bluebird box and attaching it to the top of a fence post in a relatively open area such as a garden.
Bluebirds will often mate for life returning to the same nesting place again and again. During very cold weather the pair may remain together in a tree cavity for days coming out only during the warmest minutes of the day.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.