South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Eastern Bluebird

Sialia sialis

Length: 7 - 8 inches Wingspan: 11.5 - 13 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Bright blue upperparts, rusty brown chinstrap, throat, and breast, white belly

Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialisA favorite summer visitor for many, the Eastern Bluebird is more common in the eastern part of the state.  They historically have used old woodpecker holes and other cavities in trees for nesting.  However, they will readily nest in man-made bluebird boxes, and have greatly benefited from the increased placement of these boxes, especially as European Starlings have become aggressive competitors for natural tree cavities for nesting.

Habitat: Eastern Bluebirds can be found in a variety of open and semi-open habitats.  They prefer open country interspersed with trees for nesting. 

Diet: Mostly insects and berries. 

Behavior: Often feeds by observing from a relatively low perch and flying down to pluck insects from the ground or foliage, often hovering instead of landing while taking the food item.  They will also sometimes fly out and catch insects in mid-air.  Breeding pairs may perch next to and preen each other.

Nesting: Late April through July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Eastern Bluebird Call

Migration: Winters in the southeastern United States and Mexico, although small numbers may winter in the state in selected spots.  Summers throughout most of the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada.

Similar Species: Western Bluebird

Bird Feeders: Will sometimes attend feeders for mealworms (yes, you can buy mealworms to feed to bluebirds!)

Conservation Status: Showed sharp decline previously due to competition for nesting sites with non-native species (European Starling, House Sparrow).  Has been recovering, thanks in large part to the large numbers of nest boxes erected for their benefit.  The IUCN currently lists Eastern Bluebirds as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Eastern Bluebird

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Eastern Bluebird"

3) eNature.com: Eastern Bluebird

Photo Information: March 30th, 2012 - Beaver Creek Nature Area near Brandon, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Eastern Bluebird photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Eastern Bluebird - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant and summer resident throughout the state.  Very rare winter visitor, primarily in the extreme southeastern corner of the state.