Eastern bluebirds in Charlotte, North Carolina
© Elizabeth W. Kearley/Getty Image
Four little birds sitting in a tree…
This chunky foursome caught in a North Carolina snowstorm is a group of eastern bluebirds, the most widespread of the three types of bluebird. (The other two are the western and mountain.) The eastern bluebird range covers a wide area—east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada down to Central America, then over to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. You can spot them in grasslands, forest clearings, meadows, and the like.
All bluebirds are cavity nesters, which means they make their homes in the hollows of trees, in holes vacated by bigger birds like woodpeckers, and in artificial nests called nest boxes. Nest boxes played a big role in helping the eastern bluebird population rebound after a precipitous decline in the early 20th century due to habitat loss and the introduction of nonnative species that out-competed them for nesting holes. Enter conservation groups and passionate backyard birders. They put up nest boxes specifically designed for bluebirds that provided needed shelter for these colorful thrushes.
This conservation success story makes the eastern bluebird the perfect mascot for the Great Backyard Bird Count, an online citizen science project sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society that helps monitor wild bird populations. Want to participate? Just count the birds you see in your area and share the results online between February 12-15, 2021. Happy birding!