Last Updated: September 21, 2022
Do you know there's a difference between blue-colored avians and bluebirds? To explain, we'll look at different types of blue birds found in North America, including the bluebird species.
Yes, some birds with such plumage aren't in the same family as bluebirds, although you may come across lists calling all of them bluebirds. This discussion promises to be an adventure, so let's discover these species together.
- 3 Types Of Bluebirds In North America
- Stunning Blue-colored Bird Species: 4 Beautiful Species
- Watch This!
- Frequently Asked Questions
3 Types Of Bluebirds In North America
Let's start with this species and later look at a few birds from other species with blue plumage.
North America has three bluebird species that are:
1. Eastern Bluebird
You can never forget an eastern bluebird when you see one because it's a beautiful avian.
Eastern bluebirds are in some parts of North America only, with a resident population in the southeast region, in states like Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. The breeding range is also on the eastern side, in the northeastern states, while wintering grounds are in parts of Texas.
It's a medium-distance migrant that you'll never find in the western states. You'll rarely see eastern bluebirds in your backyard unless you have a feeder with mealworms or the trees in your yard have insects.
Whether birding in the meadows or near your nest box, here's how to tell this species is around. A male eastern bluebird has a blue back and a reddish belly, while a female bird has a gray back with some blue plumage on the wings and a pale orange-brown breast. Have you seen such a bird lately?
2. Western Bluebird
As the name suggests, the western bluebird inhabits western states like California, Arizona, and Utah; therefore, you can never expect to see it in the same area as the species above. Its breeding and wintering grounds are in the western section of North America.
A western bluebird is between 6.3 and 7.5 inches long, meaning it's a few inches smaller than the average length of an eastern bluebird. A male western bluebird has a shiny blue color pattern on its back, a blue throat, and a rusty-orange chest. Female birds are gray-buff above with a blue tint on their wings and tails.
Western bluebirds inhabit woodlands and edges of such fields. In summer, you may also come across them on fence posts or nest boxes.
3. Mountain Bluebird
Like the bird species above, mountain bluebirds live in the western area of North America, their breeding range stretching from the northwestern edge to some western states of the U.S.
Resident mountain bluebirds are in a few states, and the southwestern states like Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are wintering grounds.
A mountain bluebird grows into a medium-sized bird of 7.9 inches, although some can be as small as 6.3 inches long.
You can tell it's an adult mountain bluebird by its sky-blue body, round head, thin bill, and light underbelly. A female bird has different plumage as it has a gray-brown body with some blue feathers on its wings and tail.
Stunning Blue-colored Bird Species: 4 Beautiful Species
Bluebirds aren't the only species with blue plumage. Here are other birds among the many birds with blue feathers:
1. Indigo Bunting
It's another eastern bird with a breeding range east and a bit of the western side of California. If you don't see any indigo bunting during the breeding season, fly to central or South America, where this species winters. It even flies to the Caribbean since it's a long-distance migrant that can fly over 1,000 miles one way.
You may have to spend some nights outside because it migrates at night using the stars for direction.
You can bring indigo buntings to your backyard with the seeds like thistle and aster. If you don't have a backyard feeder, then you can look for these small species on rural roads, perching on telephone lines. This bunting is a small bird, smaller than a house finch, about 4.7 to 5.1 inches long.
A male has a blue body with brighter feathers on its head. On the other hand, a female or immature bird has brownish feathers with streaks on the breast and some blue tint on the wings and tail. The breeding male has patches of blue and brown feathers.
2. Blue Jay
It's as easy to identify a blue jay by its blue plumage as an eastern bluebird. Blue jays have a blue back, distinctive black necklace, wings with black bars, and white wing bars. On top of that, they have a striking blue crest.
A blue Jay is longer than an indigo bunting because its body length is between 9.8 and 11.8 inches. To see this species, visit the eastern states as there's a resident population. The states west of Texas don't have blue jays.
This songbird is intelligent, which is one of the reasons many homeowners love seeing it in their backyards. Sometimes, when it calls, you might think there's a red-shouldered hawk on your lawn, yet it's a blue jay mimicking a hawk.
The only trouble you may have when you see blue jays in your backyard is the fact that they eat eggs and nestlings.
You're likely to find a blue jay's nest in a deciduous or coniferous tree up to 25 feet from the ground. This bird gathers twigs from live trees for the exterior and lines the nest with rootlets. Gathering and building work is a team effort of the male and female birds.
3. Tree Swallow
It's one of the most stunning birds to host in your backyard because its color pattern combines a blue-green back with a white underbelly and black flight feathers. Juvenile females have a touch of blue-green tint.
A tree swallow is a small bird between 4.7 and 5.9 inches long. It loves insects and migrates within a large flock as it moves from the breeding grounds in the northern section of North America to the wintering grounds south and throughout Central America.
When these birds find a roosting site, they circle above it in a flock of thousands until all the birds find a spot for the night. It's such a stunning sight.
4. Blue Grosbeak
Its triangular bill is unmistakable. It's so prominent on the small face. Once you take its facial features, you notice the chestnut-colored wing bars contrasting a deep blue body. That's the plumage of a breeding male.
As for female blue grosbeaks, they have cinnamon bodies and brown wing bars. A blue grosbeak is a few inches larger than an indigo bunting because it measures 5.9 to 6.3 inches long. This species loves regrowth woodlands and shrubs near water.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many bluebirds exist?
Just three species and these are the ones we listed in this article. These are the mountain, eastern and western bluebirds, respectively. They're in the thrush family. You can see all three bluebirds in North America.
Is it a bluebird or a blue bird?
These two terms have different connotations. A bluebird is a specific species, while the second phrase describes the color of an avian with blue feathers.
Therefore, you can use the first one when referring to species like the eastern and mountain bluebirds and the second phrase to describe birds with blue plumage, such as the lazuli bunting.
Do blue-colored birds have blue feathers?
No, they don't. What you see is a bird's reflection of light that our eyes perceive as blue, yet avians don't have blue pigment. Shocking, right?
When looking for types of blue birds, you can just focus on bluebirds like the mountain bluebird or birds with blue feathers from any family, and not necessarily from the thrush. We also pointed out the three species of bluebirds and a few others with blue-colored bodies to show you their differences.
You'll eventually see both types of birds frolicking in your backyard or flying around when exploring open woodlands.