Eastern bluebird

Sunday, November 20, 2011

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.

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