There’s a certain magic to the rolling hills and lush forests at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York that have captivated bird lovers and nature enthusiasts for generations. Amidst this picturesque landscape, the enchanting Eastern Bluebirds that call this region home hold a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Bluebirds are found only in North America! In this blog post, we’ll explore the beauty of bluebirds in Upstate New York, including their natural history, unique behaviors, and where to find them.
A Glimpse into the World of Bluebirds
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is a small, brightly colored songbird that can be found throughout the eastern United States, including northern New York. They’re members of the thrush family, known for their melodious songs and strikingly beautiful bright blue plumage. Bluebirds are characterized by their vibrant blue backs and wings, rusty-red throats and breasts, and white bellies.
These charming birds are cavity nesters, building their nests in holes or cavities found in trees or man-made structures. They primarily feed on insects, small fruits, and berries, playing an essential role in controlling insect populations and helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Our Bluebird Video / Background Springtime Music / Screensaver”:
Bluebirds in Upstate New York
Upstate New York offers an ideal habitat for bluebirds, thanks to its diverse landscape that includes a mix of open fields, forests, and wetlands. We are located in Washington County. The region’s rural areas provide an abundance of nesting sites and ample food sources for these birds.
Unfortunately, bluebird populations declined in the mid-20th century due to habitat loss, competition for nesting sites, and pesticide use. Luckily, efforts to conserve and restore their populations have been successful in recent years, and bluebird numbers are steadily increasing.
Where to Find Bluebirds in New York
There are three species of bluebirds found in the United States, but the Eastern Bluebird is the only one found in New York. If you want to catch a glimpse of these stunning birds, Spring and Summer are the best times to go birdwatching in Upstate New York. Some popular locations to find bluebirds include:
- The Montezuma Audubon Center: Located in Savannah, this center offers various habitats that attract bluebirds, including grasslands, forests, and wetlands.
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Sapsucker Woods: This 230-acre sanctuary in Ithaca features a diverse range of habitats, including woodlands and open fields, which provide perfect nesting sites for bluebirds.
- The Five Rivers Environmental Education Center: Situated in Delmar, this 450-acre nature preserve offers several walking trails that pass through bluebird-friendly habitats, including meadows and woodlands.
- The Tifft Nature Preserve: This 264-acre preserve in Buffalo is home to a variety of birds, including bluebirds, thanks to its diverse habitats.
Supporting Bluebird Conservation
There are several ways you can help support bluebird populations in Upstate New York:
- Install a bluebird nest box: Providing nesting sites in your backyard or community can help increase bluebird populations.
- Plant native trees and shrubs: Bluebirds rely on native plants for food and shelter. Planting native species can help support bluebird populations and other wildlife.
- Limit pesticide use: Pesticides like RoundUp can harm bluebirds and their food sources. Opt for organic gardening methods to help protect bluebirds and other wildlife.
Has anyone ever kept an Eastern Bluebird for a pet?
Keeping wild birds as pets is generally discouraged, as it is not in the best interest of the bird or the environment. Eastern Bluebirds, like other wild birds, have specific needs that are difficult to meet in a domestic setting. They are adapted to living in their natural habitat, where they can forage for food, mate, and fulfill their role in the ecosystem.
In the United States, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) protects native birds, including Eastern Bluebirds, making it illegal to capture, possess, or keep them as pets without a proper permit. Permits are typically granted only for specific purposes such as rehabilitation, education, or scientific research.
If you are interested in experiencing the joy of interacting with bluebirds, consider setting up a bluebird nest box in your backyard or participating in a citizen science project that helps to monitor and support bluebird populations. This way, you can enjoy the beauty and presence of these magnificent birds while also contributing to their conservation and well-being in the wild.
Eastern Bluebird Diet
Eastern Bluebirds primarily consume insects, small fruits, and berries. They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. If you want to provide supplemental food for Eastern Bluebirds in your backyard, here are some good options:
- Mealworms: Live or dried mealworms are an excellent food source for bluebirds, as they are high in protein and closely resemble their natural diet. You can purchase mealworms at pet stores or online and offer them in a shallow dish or a specialized mealworm feeder.
- Berries: Bluebirds enjoy a variety of berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, and blueberries. Planting berry-producing shrubs in your yard can provide a natural food source and attract bluebirds to your garden.
- Suet: Suet is a high-energy food made from animal fat, often mixed with seeds, nuts, or berries. While it’s more commonly offered to birds in the winter, bluebirds may also enjoy suet cakes or crumbles, especially during the nesting season when they need extra energy.
- Insect-based bird food: Some specialized bird foods are formulated with insects as the main ingredient. These products can be a good supplement to bluebirds’ diet and can be offered in a tray or platform feeder.
Keep in mind that while providing supplemental food can attract bluebirds to your backyard, it’s important not to make them overly dependent on human-provided food sources. Maintain a natural, diverse habitat by planting native trees and shrubs that provide shelter, nesting sites, and a natural food source for bluebirds and other wildlife. Additionally, be sure to provide clean water for drinking and bathing, and clean feeders regularly to prevent the spread of disease.
Eastern Bluebirds are known for their melodious, gentle, and musical songs. Their primary song is a series of soft, warbling notes that may sound like “chir-wi” or “tru-ly” repeated several times, with each phrase lasting about 1-2 seconds. Males typically sing to establish territory, attract mates, or communicate with their partners during the breeding season.
In addition to their song, Eastern Bluebirds have a variety of calls they use to communicate with one another. Some common calls include:
- A soft “tut-tut” or “chirp” sound: This is a contact call that bluebirds use to keep in touch with their mates or other family members.
- A short, sharp “tseet” or “tsip” sound: This is an alarm call, which the bluebird uses to warn others of potential danger or disturbances.
- A more complex, chattering call: This call is often used during aggressive interactions with other bluebirds or species competing for nesting sites.
To familiarize yourself with Eastern Bluebird songs and calls, consider listening to audio recordings available on birding websites or mobile apps. This practice will help you identify their unique vocalizations when you’re out birdwatching or enjoying their presence in your backyard.
The Eastern Bluebird is a true gem of Upstate New York’s natural world. By taking the time to learn about these fascinating creatures and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the beauty of bluebirds.
Sources and Additional Links:
The Eastern Bluebird on Audubon
Eastern Bluebird – Watchable Wildlife
American Bird Conservancy