Winter Blues

As in blue sky (for a change) and Bluebirds (that shouldn’t be here at this time of year) on a sunny day with an unseasonably high temperature hovering near freezing (30 F). For a change of pace I went walking on the local golf course, curious to see whether I could find the reputed Mountain Bluebird that has taken up residence here along with aforementioned Eastern Bluebirds.

But I found only the eastern cousins, near two Bluebird boxes, which the birds were sitting on and inside of during the middle of the day.

A small flock of about 6 male Eastern Bluebirds flitted between the nest boxes and the shrubby woods on one side of a cross-country ski trail. Periodically, they dipped into the boxes or peered into the hole. I suppose they might take communal refuge from really cold weather in these boxes, but I was surprised to find them doing this on such an unseasonably warm(?) day.

Although Eastern Bluebirds breed here in the summer, they usually retreat south in the winter to places that have less snow cover and milder temperatures where they feed on a wide variety of shrub and tree berries and mealworms provided by friendly birdwatchers. What a treat to see their cheerful bright blue and rusty brown colors on a landscape that is mostly white, gray, and brown this time of year.

The landscape at the Como Park golf course is mostly white on white, with only an occasional tree to break up the monotony. But cross-country skiers love the rolling hills and groomed trails here. And bubblers keep one pond unfrozen so birds can find fresh water when they need it.
Two males, perhaps different in age or fitness, as the amount of blue on the head and back indicates maturity and signals health and vitality of the individual.
Good luck, little Bluebird. You are about to face a week of single digit and subzero temperatures — I hope you’re prepared for that.

10 thoughts on “Winter Blues

  1. Interesting Sue. Can they be looking fro nesting sites already? Seems very early. However, I spotted a flock of Bluebirds near the feeders at our former home on January 1st some years ago.

    • No, I think they just use the boxes for protection. But, if they can survive the winter here, they would be first in line to stake out the best territories (and boxes) in the spring. Bluebirds are one of the first to nest and can usually produce two broods per season by starting early.

  2. Nice shots! I often see the western bluebird on my walks. They are not much different from the eastern ones, but I am sure my bird-nerd brother in-law would disagree.

  3. I hope they are ready for those severe temp.s too. They should have flown away down here to the Carolinas for the winter. We’ve had the last 2 nights of 20 degrees, but warming into the 50s over the weekend. Beautiful winter photographs. Thank you.

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