This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the mountain bluebird.
The color of a clear, blue summer sky, the male mountain bluebird is a familiar sight in open spaces of Pagosa Country. His image adorns the logo of our local Audubon chapter. But it is not his beautiful color or song that makes him an attractive mate. Rather, it is his ability to scout out a suitable nesting cavity that wins him over to a female. Arriving early in the spring to nesting grounds with open areas for feeding and trees with cavities for nesting gives mountain bluebirds a competitive edge over other cavity nesters. However, late spring snowstorms may prove fatal.
Mountain bluebirds hunt insects and spiders from open perches on tree tops, power lines and fence lines. When food is more scarce, they will also hover over open ground like mini hawks, or snatch insects from the air. Moving with food sources, they are more readily seen here in spring and summer. In winter, they congregate in small flocks and add seeds, berries and small fruits to their diet. The bright blue male is hard to mistake and although the female is gray brown, she does sport blue in her wing and tail feathers.
Man-made nest boxes have provided a boost in population numbers as this bird copes with changes to the landscape in its historic range.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.