Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are one of the most iconic and beloved songbirds. They are common in open woodlands, parks, and backyards throughout eastern North America.
The Eastern bluebird is native to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Their range reaches from the east coast west to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. They are also common in southeastern Canada and throughout the central mountain ranges of Mexico.
These birds have expanded their range significantly since the 1900s. This article will discuss the expansion and habitat of the Eastern bluebird in even greater detail.
Read on to discover more!
Eastern Bluebirds have a fairly broad range across North America
The Eastern bluebird is widespread throughout eastern North America. They range from southern Saskatchewan in Canada, throughout the eastern and midwestern United States, and into central and south Mexico.
Eastern bluebirds even range south as far as the lowland pine savannas of northeast Honduras and northern Nicaragua.
Eastern bluebird populations have expanded since 1900, likely related to human expansion west. Prior, these birds were primarily limited to eastern pine forests naturally maintained by fires and deciduous forests with little understory.
However, with increased forest belts in grassland habitats due to human influence, bluebirds were able to populate the Great Plains.
The bluebird has also expanded northwest for similar reasons. Humans have modified the landscape, clearing forest understory and creating pasture for livestock and farming, making the habitat more suitable for Eastern bluebirds.
Increased bird feeder and nest box provisions encourage population growth and expansion also.
Male Eastern Bluebird perched on a fence, Marion County, Illinois
Eastern bluebirds populate the eastern and central United States. They range from northern Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin to south-central Florida. Additionally, these birds also breed west from southeastern Montana to central Texas. The western extent of their range reaches the foothills of the Rockies in eastern Colorado and the southeastern-most mountain ranges of Arizona.
Eastern bluebirds live in every state along the east coast from Maine to Florida. Their range also expands west covering all inland northeastern states (Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania).
They are found through the inland southeast (Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana) and most of the midwest as well (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri).
The Eastern bluebird’s range begins to dissipate in western North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. However, they have expanded to the very southeastern corners of Montana and Wyoming. The bluebird can also be found in eastern Colorado and southern Arizona.
Eastern bluebird populations occur throughout southern Canada, ranging from south-central Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, Ontario, and southern Quebec. They are most common along the Canadian Appalachians but also occur in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the southern regions of Nova Scotia.
Female Eastern Bluebird with a skipper, Kentucky
Eastern bluebird habitat consists of open forest or woodland with little understory and ground cover. In North America, these birds are most commonly found in burned jack pine forests, clear-cut deciduous woods, orchards, swamps, and longleaf pine ecosystems.
Eastern bluebirds also prefer open habitats for nesting. Oak or pine trees with burn scars or abandoned woodpecker holes are the most common site locations. Because they are cavity nesters, dead trees are typically chosen over live ones.
Eastern bluebirds are not rare throughout the majority of their distribution range. They are a fairly common sight in the Eastern half of the United States, southeastern Canada, and north-central Mexico - particularly in the early morning.
The Eastern bluebird is less commonly sighted in New Brunswick and southern Mexico, around Belize.
Eastern Bluebirds are fairly common within their range, particularly in the Eastern parts of the US
The best places to see an Eastern bluebird are open pine forests, edge habitats along pastures, agricultural areas, parks, and even your backyard. These songbirds will visit feeders and commonly nest in nest boxes.
Early morning is the best time to see Eastern bluebirds. These birds are hungriest when they first wake. Plus, hunting and foraging early in the day typically means less competition from other birds.
Eastern Bluebird in flight
Eastern bluebirds are considered partially migratory. As with other species, migration is dependent upon food availability and weather conditions.
Bluebirds breeding in southern Canada and the northern United States are more likely to migrate due to harsher winter weather and fewer food sources. While populations that breed farther south can remain on or near their breeding site year-round.
Where Eastern bluebirds live in winter depends on where their territory is. Bluebird populations in the southeastern United States, southern Arizona, or Mexico are year-round residents and frequently stay on their breeding sites through the winter months.
On the other hand, Eastern bluebird populations residing in Canada or the northeastern and midwestern United States typically migrate south. Some migratory bluebirds may only go as far as southern Ohio and Missouri, while others fly as far south as west Texas or Mexico.
Departures from these northernmost breeding habitats typically begin in late September and run through November or early December, depending on the region.
Eastern Bluebird perched on the side of a snowy milk can, during the winter
In summer, the Eastern bluebird is distributed widely throughout its range. They can be found in southeastern Canada, the eastern half of the United States, and throughout much of Mexico. Migratory bluebirds begin their journeys back to northern breeding grounds between February and early May.
Eastern Bluebird perched on a post
Eastern bluebirds often group up outside of breeding season. Flocks in northern regions will migrate south together and typically remain in their group throughout the winter, where they socialize and feed together. Flocks are generally separated into adults and juveniles.
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