|Conservation status||Nests in many remote areas, where it is less affected than the other bluebirds by competition for nest sites with Starlings and other invaders. Numbers are apparently stable.|
|Habitat||Open country with some trees; in winter, also treeless terrain. Often in more open areas than other bluebirds. Breeding habitats not always in mountains; found in lowland prairies and sagebrush flats as well as alpine zones above treeline. In winter, most common in pinyon-juniper woods but also in open grassland, desert, farmland, even barren plowed fields.|
Often forages by hovering over open field, then dropping to the ground when prey is spotted. Hovers more than other bluebirds. Also perches on rock or low branch and darts out to catch flying insects.
5-6, sometimes 4-8. Pale blue, unmarked (occasionally white). Incubation is by female, about 13-17 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 17-23 days after hatching, are tended by parents for another 3-4 weeks. 2 broods per year.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 17-23 days after hatching, are tended by parents for another 3-4 weeks. 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects and berries. Feeds heavily on insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, ants, bees, and others. Also eats some berries, including those of mistletoe, juniper, hackberry, and other plants. Berries are particularly important in the diet in winter.
Sometimes interbreeds with Eastern Bluebird where their ranges overlap. Nest: Apparently the female selects the site for the nest. Site is in a cavity, usually a natural hollow or old woodpecker hole in tree, or in a birdhouse. Sometimes nests in holes in dirt banks, crevices in cliffs or among rocks, holes in sides of buildings, old nests of other birds (such as Cliff Swallow or Dipper). Nest in cavity (probably built by both sexes) is loose cup of weed stems, grass, twigs, rootlets, pine needles, sometimes lined with animal hair or feathers.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates relatively late in fall and early in spring. Winter range varies from year to year, depending on food supplies. Flocks sometimes wander east on Great Plains, and lone strays occasionally go as far as the Atlantic Coast.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSoft warbling notes.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Mountain Bluebird
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Mountain Bluebird
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.