Which Bluebird am I Seeing?

Depending upon where you are in the US, there are three different bluebird species that you might be seeing. Find out which ones you've seen in this post.

I love seeing bluebirds. Near my home in Indiana, I can only see one species, Eastern Bluebird, but when I travel, I always enjoy seeing the other two species, Western and Mountain. Birders have a long history with bluebirds as they are one of the species that most commonly attempt to attract to nesting boxes. In fact, without these nesting boxes, we wouldn’t have nearly as many bluebirds in the US as we do. For identification, Eastern and Western Bluebirds are quite similar while Mountain is quite different. Learn what to look for to identify all three species below. I’ve focused on the male Eastern and Western as well as the female Mountain Bluebird. The females of Eastern and Western Bluebird are quite similar while the male Mountain Bluebird is bright blue and unmistakable.

Eastern Bluebird

As the name would suggest, this is the species that you would expect to see in the eastern United States. Its range extends west to the Rocky Mountains, click here for an eBird range map.

Which Bluebird am I Seeing?©Brian Zwiebel
©Brian Zwiebel Notice on this male Eastern Bluebird how bright white the belly is!

Western Bluebird

For the most part, where Eastern Bluebird’s range ends, Western’s begins. This species can be found from the Rockies west to the Pacific Coast, click here for an eBird range map.

Which Bluebird am I Seeing?©Brian Zwiebel
©Brian Zwiebel Compared to the Eastern Bluebird, the male Western Bluebird has a blue rather than white belly and the orange extends to the scapulars.

Mountain Bluebird

The name of this species give you a pretty good idea of where it is most common, the mountains. You will mainly find this species throughout the Rockies and other mountains of the west, click here for an eBird range map. One thing you might notice on the range map is that this species is more likely to show up as a rare bird out of it’s “normal” range than the other two bluebirds.

Which Bluebird am I Seeing?©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma The female Mountain Bluebird is much more likely than the male to be confused with the other two species. Note how she is brown rather than orange like the Eastern and Western Bluebirds.

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.