Western Bluebird – A Small Thrush

Western bluebirds (Sialia mexicanus) are members of the Turdidae Family  – the thrushes. I tend to forget that these little blue, orange and grey birds are related to robins and solitares, also members of the Thrush Family. Thrushes generally are more plump and compact than similar sized birds. Their bills are short to medium length with thin beaks. Their wings are long, among the longest wings of all passerines (a perching bird) relative to body size.

Depending on the season and weather, western bluebirds may remain resident or are medium-distance migrants. In mountainous regions of the Far West, they often move downslope during harsh weather. Western bluebirds breeding in the Interior West often go to Mexico, Western Texas, Arizona and New Mexico during the winter.

During the summer western bluebirds eat insects which they hunt by dropping to the ground from a low perch, catch on the wing or search out among foliage. The winter diet of western bluebirds is mainly berries, including elderberries, poison oak, juniper and mistletoe, which they gather by perching or fluttering amid branches. Insects are also eaten in the winter, when available.

These western bluebirds were photographed along Upper Hat Creek in Shasta County CA.

More information about western bluebirds is available in my previous posts: “Western Bluebird” on 12-29-2011 and “Sialia mexicanus – Western Bluebird” on 12-14-2015.

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