About The Western Bluebird
The western bluebird is among the three species of bluebirds in North America that belong to the thrush family. Its name is derived from its blue color. However, because there are many other bluebirds, the western bluebird is mostly mistaken to be the other kind.
The male western bluebird can be identified by its blue throat, wings and tail while the female has a gray throat and white eye ring. Both have reddish brown breast and thicker bills. Another distinct characteristic is its charming personality.
The adult male looks like the common bluebird with black bill and feet and brown iris. The adult female’s upper body is light grayish-brown, tinged with blue.
The western bluebird scientifically known as “sialia mexicana” is a delicate medium-sized songbird. It is about six to seven inches long and weighs 24 to 31 grams. Of all the bluebirds, it is the least migratory and most of its migration is altitudinal. The western bluebirds usually move out from higher elevations during winter. Some may fly off to the southwestern desert and northern central valleys.
Farms, range land with lots of trees and shrubs as well as open woodlands especially those with oaks, coniferous forests and riparian woodlands are the preferred habitats of the western bluebird. This bird depends on savanna and grassland areas that need periodic fire for maintenance. It also likes to stay in cleared areas that have forest stands and transition zone forests. Being grassland birds that love open fields, it is hard to attract western bluebirds to urban locations like cities or heavily wooded properties.
Western bluebirds abound in California except in the eastern desert areas or the lower part of the San Joaquin Valley or the highest mountains. They used to be very common in the USA. Sadly, their number is declining in California, Arizona and other parts of their range. This decrease in population was well documented in western Washington and was due to several factors such as competition for nesting cavities with house sparrows and European starlings, decline in the number of natural cavities and regional weather changes.
The good news is that a group of volunteers spearheading the Prescott Bluebird Recovery Project. This organization has been working hard to save the western bluebird since the 1970s. The volunteers build, put up and monitor bluebird nest boxes in the rural and semi-rural areas of Washington, Yamhill, Marion, Clackamas and Multnomah counties.