Eastern Bluebirds Love Wide Open Spaces

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You won’t attract an eastern bluebird with birdseed, but there is another secret ingredient that will surely get attention: mealworms.

What Do Male and Female Eastern Bluebirds Look Like?

Eastern Bluebirds, Male Feeding The Femalestanley45/Getty Images
Male eastern bluebird feeding a female

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis
Family: Thrush
Length: 7 inches
Wingspan: 13 inches

One look at an eastern bluebird with its vibrant colors, and it’s easy to see why the birds rank near the top of any list of best-loved birds. Classified as thrushes, a family found worldwide, bluebirds are unique to North America. Male bluebirds are more brightly colored than females, and juveniles wear a pattern of spots, reflecting their thrush ancestry.

Eastern bluebirds are easy to identify by their upright posture, color pattern and thin, straight bills. Adult males are deep blue on the head, back, wings and tail; rusty orange on the chest; and white on the lower belly. Adult females have the same pattern in muted colors.

Learn how to identify mountain bluebirds and western bluebirds.

What Do Eastern Bluebirds Eat?

feeding birds in summer, An eastern bluebird feeds its offspring a bunch of mealworms.Elizabeth W. Kearley/Getty Images
An eastern bluebird feeds its offspring a bunch of mealworms.

Insects make up most of their summer diet. You may attract bluebirds to your backyard feeders with live mealworms, but the best methods involve foods in nature. Bluebirds feed heavily on insects they find on or near the ground, so avoid treating your lawn with chemicals. During the colder months they birds wander in flocks and eat mainly fruits and berries. Planting native trees and shrubs that bear fruit is a wonderful way to provide food.

They also love bird baths, and if you can make the water move—even if you just add a small dripper—that’s better still.

Check out the best bluebird feeders and feeding tips.

Eastern Bluebird House

Eastern Bluebird Pair Selecting A Nest BoxMelodyanneM/Getty Images
Eastern bluebird inspects a nest box

Prepare your backyard to welcome an eastern bluebird family. These birds start house hunting early, so clean out last year’s birdhouse in late winter or early spring. Make sure the bluebird box is mounted about 5 to 10 feet off the ground. Place it in an open, sunny area, preferably facing a field. The entrance hole should measure 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You can make a DIY bluebird house or buy one. For plans and dimensions, consult the North American Bluebird Society website.

Learn how to monitor bluebird nest boxes to make sure house sparrows do not take over.

Nest and Eggs

bluebird eggs and hatchlingCourtesy Heather Parker

A male eastern bluebird attracts a female by drawing her to his nest site by fluttering his wings and carrying material back and forth through the hole. Once two bluebirds have paired up, the female builds the nest herself in a tree cavity or birdhouse out of grasses and pine needles. She lays four to six pale-blue or white eggs.

Eastern Bluebird Song

Bnbbyc17 Christine ZieglerCourtesy Christine Ziegler

Listen to the eastern bluebird’s song. Their voice is a soft warble: “tru-al-ly, tru-al-ly.”

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Don’t miss 20 beautiful pictures of bluebirds.

Range Map and Habitat

Melissa Koski
Eastern bluebird, male

The eastern bluebird is the most widespread bluebird in North America. In summer, it lives throughout southeastern Canada and in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. A separate population is found from southern Arizona through Mexico and into Central America. These songbirds live in open habitats, such as backyards and farmland.

If you see a bluebird, here’s what it means.

Many eastern bluebirds migrate in fall, and the species becomes more common in central and southern states in winter. A few stay through the cold months, as far north as Canada. These wintering bluebirds move around the countryside in small flocks, gathering to feed on the fruits of poison ivy, dogwood, holly, and other vines and trees.

Eastern Bluebird

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Next, learn how to tell the difference between a bluebird vs a blue jay.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.