South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Mountain Bluebird

Sialia currucoides

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 12 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Sky-blue male with paler blue underparts, female grayish-blue with white belly

Mountain Bluebird - Sialia currucoidesMountain Bluebirds are distinguished from the other bluebirds by the male's all blue coloration, without rusty underparts (see photo to the right).  Females are much plainer (see photo #3 at the bottom of the page).  The Mountain Bluebird is a summer resident to the western part of the state, only rarely appearing in the east.

Habitat: Prefers open territory with some trees, but also found in treeless areas.  Found not only in mountain meadows and clearings, but sometimes at lower elevation rangeland, farmland, and sagebrush regions.

Diet: Mostly insects, with berries an important item in the winter.

Behavior: Mountain Bluebirds often forage by hovering, much more so than other bluebirds, dropping to grab prey items once spotted.  They will also flycatch by observing from a perch and flying out to catch insects in mid-air. 

Nesting: May through July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Mountain Bluebird Song

Migration: Summers in the western U.S. up to Alaska.  Winters in the southwest U.S. through Mexico.

Similar Species: The male's all blue coloration distinguishes it from other bluebirds. Possibly confused with Indigo Bunting at a distance.

Birdfeeders: Will sometimes attend feeders for offered mealworms.

Birdhouses: Will nest in man-made nest houses.

Conservation Status: Populations appear to be stable, and may be increasing due to increasing placement (and use) of nest boxes.

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

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

3) eNature.com: Mountain Bluebird

Photo Information: May 25th, 2008 - Custer State Park, Black Hills, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

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

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view 
Mountain Bluebird - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer resident in the Black Hills in the western part of the state.  Less common and local elsewhere in the western part of the state.  Rare migrant elsewhere in the state.