"The bluebird carries the sky on its back"
-Henry David Thoreau
Eastern Bluebirds and Their Behavior Henry David Thoreau once described the bluebird as “carrying the sky on its back.” The male is bright blue, with a reddish orange breast and white belly. The female is similarly colored, but duller blue on the back. It’s a small bird—7 inches—about the size of a sparrow.
Bluebirds live only in North America, from Alaska to Mexico. There are three species of bluebirds—eastern, western and mountain. Only eastern bluebirds live east of the Rocky Mountains. This is the species we have here in Westchester.
Bluebirds need open areas with low vegetation and a few scattered trees and shrubs. Golf courses, cemeteries, passive parks, university campuses and institutional grounds are good bluebird habitat in Westchester County.
They are primarily insect eaters but also consume berries, especially in colder conditions when insects aren’t available.
Most migrate during the winter, but just south enough to have a good food supply. A few remain all winter.
Bluebirds are cavity nesting birds and readily use human-made nestboxes. They begin as early as March and may have two or three broods. The female lays one egg a day until she has her desired clutch size—usually four or five eggs. Incubation lasts 12—14 days. After nestlings hatch, both parents feed the babies insects. They grow rapidly and fledge from the nest in 16—22 days. The parents will look after them for a couple of weeks. The female often begins a second family. The young of first brood sometimes help feed the second family.