How to Identify a Mountain Bluebird

This species is the state bird of Idaho and Nevada. It’s not hard to see why mountain bluebirds are among the West’s most sought-after birds.

What Do Male and Female Mountain Bluebirds Look Like?

Mickey Barnes
Mountain bluebird, female (L) and male (R)

Family: Thrush.
Length: 7-1/4 inches.
Wingspan: 14 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Male mountain bluebird is brilliant blue all over, while the female is gray overall with pale-blue wing and tail feathers.

Compared to eastern and western bluebirds, mountain bluebirds appear lighter and airier. They have longer wings and tails and can hover in one spot, gracefully beating their wings, for up to a minute. So while the other species perch on a fence or branch before dropping to the ground to pick up insects, mountain bluebirds can hover above the grass and watch for their tiny prey.

Don’t miss these 20 beautiful pictures of bluebirds.

What Do Mountain Bluebirds Eat?

mountain bluebirdCourtesy Michael Bradley

Their diet is primarily insects and berries. They may visit backyard feeders for live mealworms. Follow these tips to attract bluebirds.

“While on vacation at Yellowstone in Montana with my family, I spotted a nesting pair who’d set up shop in a dried out old tree stump. They were extremely skittish—and busy—making back and forth trips to a nearby stream, returning with bounties of flies for their young. With a bit of patience, and setting up my Canon 5D Mark IV on a tripod a safe distance away with my daughter by my side, we shared the amazing experience of watching these beautiful birds in their natural environment,” says Michael Bradley.

Check out the best bluebird feeders and feeding tips.

Nest and Eggs

Bnbbyc17 John Pizniur 2Courtesy John Pizniur

A mountain bluebird pair builds a grass nest in a cavity or a birdhouse; the female lays four to six light-blue eggs inside. If you like bluebirds, you’ll love these too-cute photos of baby bluebirds.

“Mountain bluebirds are my favorite birds to photograph. and this year I was able to observe them from building a nest to hatching chicks and feeding them. I’ve spent hours watching and photographing these birds. I hope next year they will be back again,” says John Pizniur.

Learn how to make a DIY bluebird house, and where to put it.

Mountain Bluebird Song

Listen to the mountain bluebird’s song. Their voice sounds similar to the eastern bluebird’s song, but slightly higher pitched.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Bluebird vs blue jay: Here’s how to tell the difference.

Mountain Bluebird Range Map and Habitat

A mountain bluebird perches on a tree during a winter snowstorm.Courtesy Laurie Normandeau

Despite the name, mountain bluebirds are not just creatures of high elevations. In summer, they can be found in meadows above the timberline of western mountains, and on lowland prairies as far east as the Dakotas and as far north as Alaska. In winter, they move in flocks through the Southwest and the southern Great Plains.

As the most strongly migratory bluebirds, they stray out of range and have been spotted in almost all the eastern states.

Mountain Bluebird Bird Species

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

Next, learn how to keep house sparrows out of bluebird boxes.

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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.