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Mountain Bluebird: The State Bird of Nevada

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
The Mountain Bluebird is a beautiful species that has been adopted as the state bird by not one, but two states―Nevada and Idaho.
The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) was declared the state bird of Nevada in 1967. Prior to this, in 1931, the state legislature of Idaho designated it the status of a state bird. In French, this amazing bird is known by the name Merlebleu azuré, and in Spanish, it is called Azulejo pálido.
Basically, the Mountain Bluebird is a medium-sized songbird, measuring 16 - 20 cm in length and weighing about an ounce (30 gm), which is found in western North America.


The Mountain Bluebird has a large, round head with black eyes and a small, black bill. The body is short and thick (chunky), legs are black, and the tail is medium in length. Identification is easy because of its magnificent sky blue color.
Other than the color, it is characterized by its small thrush. The male is entirely sky blue, while the female possesses eye rings and a gray body, with blue wings and tail. In both the sexes, the underbelly is comparatively lighter. The juvenile Mountain Bluebird is a miniature copy of the adult―except that it is paler in color and has white eye rings.

Habitat and Habit

It prefers open habitats, like agricultural fields and grasslands. It is also found in prairie-forest areas, where there is abundance of trees, shrubs, and short grasses. It is migratory and often migrates in search of food and habitat. At times, it breeds in meadows of high mountains and colder habitats.
It's a wanderer that forages or searches for food. It usually hovers above the ground and catches its prey by swooping on it. Its food primarily includes insects and fruits, preferably berries. In cold winters, Mountain Bluebirds flock together with sparrows and Western Bluebirds in search of food.


In the breeding season, it is the male that searches for breeding sites. It selects tree cavities or rock crevices as the nesting site and then tries to attract the female by flying in and out of it.
After mating, the female builds a nest by accumulating materials, such as plant fibers, dry grasses, and soft barks. The female only builds the nest, whereas the male guards both, the nest and female.
The female lays about four to seven white eggs. It is usually observed that it lays one egg per day. The eggs hatch into chicks after an incubation period of about 13 days. The male takes care of the female and chicks, and collects food for them. Within 22 - 24 days, the chicks develop feathers.
However, they usually stay with the parents for two months. It is quite common for a pair to have the second brood in the same breeding season.
The idea of providing them nest boxes, which was initiated in the 1920s, gave a major boost to the Mountain Bluebird population. Since then, breeding usually occurs in bird boxes and hence, there is little information about the natural breeding requirements.
The Mountain Bluebird is somewhat similar to the Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) and Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), except that the latter two are deep blue with red chests.