By Bob Walker
Right now is a great time to see Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) from the observation room at the nature center. With spring coming, they are exploring the canyons, and the males are sporting their nearly iridescent blue feathers as they look for nesting locations. Sightings of them at the nature center have been entered into several eBird reports for the month of March, and you can usually find them in open areas such as the North Mesa stables, or around soccer or baseball fields in the early morning.
Western Bluebirds are members of the thrush family (as are American Robins), which love to feed off insects and the occasional berry. They prefer to nest in cavities, in competition with other similar-sized birds such as House Sparrows. Even though they are resident in our area all year, they tend to retreat to the cooler canyons or mountainous areas in the middle of summer.
Western Bluebirds are very similar to Eastern Bluebirds, and can be distinguished by the color of their throat feathers – the Western Bluebird has a blue throat, while the Eastern Bluebird displays reddish orange breast feathers that continue into its throat area. Western Bluebirds can also be distinguished from our Mountain Bluebirds, which lack any reddish orange feathers on their breast or back and have a lighter blue color on their breast and back.