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Western Bluebird

Sialia mexicana

Length: 7.5 inches Wingspan: 12 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor

Identification Keys:  Blue upperparts, head, and throat, rusty-orange chest, gray belly.

Western Bluebird - Sialia mexicanaWestern Bluebirds are found in open and semi-open habitats in the western United States.  They are most easily distinguished from Eastern Bluebirds by range and by their blue throat (compared to rusty orange on an Eastern Bluebird).  Their normal range is a few hundred miles from South Dakota, and they are considered only very rare visitors to the state. 

Habitat: Found in semi-open and open habitats in all seasons, such as open pine and oak woodlands, riparian bands of trees, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and farmland.

Diet: Insects make up the majority of the diet, but berries and fruits can also be an important food item, especially in the winter when insects aren't as plentiful.

Behavior: Often feeds by perching low in vegetation and swooping down to the ground to snatch insects.  They will also fly from a perch to catch insects in mid-air, and will forage among the foliage.   

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Short sweet warbling.

Migration: Summers throughout the Northwest and Southwest U.S., extreme southwestern Canada, and in Mexico.  Those in the northwestern part of their range migrate southward for the winter, but the rest are generally permanent residents.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Western Bluebird sightings

Similar Species: Eastern Bluebird

Conservation Status: Numbers strongly declined over much of their range in the 20th century due to loss of natural nesting sites and competition with other songbirds (including introduced species such as European Starlings).   However, they appear to be rebounding and increasing in number over the last couple of decades. The IUCN considers the Western Bluebird to be a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) WhatBird - Western Bluebird

2) BirdWeb - Western Bluebird

3) Audubon Guide - Western Bluebird

Photo Information: May 1st, 2008 - Zion National Park, Utah - Terry Sohl

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


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Western Bluebird - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Very rare visitor.  Normal breeding range is to the west of South Dakota

Additional Western Bluebird Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Western Bluebird - Sialia mexicanaWestern Bluebird - Sialia mexicanaWestern Bluebird - Sialia mexicanaWestern Bluebird - Sialia mexicanaWestern Bluebird - Sialia mexicana