When traveling through Western North Dakota a flash of blue can occasionally be seen as a mountain bluebird flies by. They are early to arrive in the spring and late to leave in the fall. They can hover in mid air to find insects on the ground or catch them in mid flight.
Mountain bluebirds are the state birds of Idaho and Nevada. They can live 6 to 10 years in the wild. They are omnivores and eat spiders, grasshoppers, flies and other insects, and small fruits. The mountain bluebird is a relative of the eastern and western bluebirds.
Seven Reasons to Love Mountain Bluebirds
1. They are blue- Blue is a color not often seen in nature where greens and brown predominate, the exception being the brilliant blue sky. Blue animals in the rural west are not common- blue jays, great blue herons, lazuli and indigo buntings and the mountain bluebird.
2. They are not just blue but several shades of blue including turquoise
3. You can see them! They perch on dead trees, junipers and buttes
4. They hover and can fly in place when searching for food and resemble the American kestrel with this ability
5. They nest in cavities that can be seen and are not hidden by leaves
6. You can see the difference between the Mommy and Daddy mountain bluebirds. Moms have grey heads and chests and grey blue wings. Dads have dark or turquoise blue heads and wings with a lighter blue chest.
7. They are monogamous. Moms and Dads work hard to feed their babies. Dads first come in the Spring and pick out a nest but the Mom will improve the nest. Dads will feed the Moms when she is sitting on their eggs. After 14 days of incubation, 4 to 8 babies will be born. After 21 days of feeding, the babies are able to leave the nest (fledged). The babies will spend several weeks or longer with their parents before becoming independent. Both Moms and Dads fiercely protect the nest.
Enjoy these photos of these wonderful birds.
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