Missouri's State Bird
Every state in the United States has an official state bird. Interestingly Missouri and New York share the same one: the Eastern bluebird. In those areas, people are so fond of bluebirds that they even build special wooden houses for them. The Eastern bluebird is usually welcomed merrily because it is a strong sign of spring approaching after a long, hard winter. Read on to learn more about this cheery, colorful bird.
Eastern bluebirds are quite small and sleek, with a tiny beak. The males have bright blue heads and backs, with a red breast and white underbelly. The female Eastern bluebirds look quite similar, although their colors look duller or slightly faded. These fantastic colors develop over time. When an Eastern bluebird is just born, it is actually grey, with some small specks on its breast and blue wing tips. The males have such bright colors to help them attract a mate, while the females' dull colors allow them to stay camouflaged from dangerous predators. During nesting season, the male Eastern bluebird gathers a lot of materials, such as grass and small twigs to make a nest. He shows it off to female bluebirds in the area by flapping his wings around the nest. When he spots a female that he likes, the male brings her little gifts of juicy worms or berries. When the female bird decides to join him, she lays small blue eggs in the nest and guards them carefully for two weeks, keeping them safe and warm. When the babies hatch, the mother and father birds are kept busy fetching food for their new brood!
An Eastern bluebird's favorite foods include caterpillars, insects, worms, elderberries, blackberries, crickets, and honeysuckle. Did you know that if there are offspring from a previous brood, they sometimes stay with the parents to help raise the next batch of babies? Eastern bluebirds usually move around together in a flock, although nests are limited to just one family each. Before the winter, they move south to avoid the cold weather and lack of food. When looking for a place to settle in, Eastern bluebirds prefer large open spaces with trees. For this reason we can often spot them during spring and summer in gardens and parks instead of forests. Eastern bluebirds usually have a lifespan that ranges from six to ten years. They face their largest risk of death when they are babies, since they are vulnerable to many external threats. Some common predators include sparrows, raccoons, cats, chipmunks, black bears, and even a few other birds such as European starlings and house sparrows! However, since Eastern bluebirds are so social, they try to help each other out in times of danger. The males produce a special cry that alerts the rest of the flock and their family that there is a predator nearby. Females who are nesting also have their own special song to call their male mates back to the nest. Besides songs, bluebirds also use body language, such as flicking their wings in a special way, to communicate among themselves.
During the last few decades, scientists and researchers noticed that the numbers of Eastern bluebirds were decreasing. A major reason was because their natural habitats, or homes, were being destroyed. To help them out, many people began to create special nest boxes constructed out of wood. These boxes have been placed along roadsides, in fields, and even in backyards. The result is that the Eastern bluebird population is gradually increasing thanks to all of the kind people who took some time to care for them.
Check out these fun resources for facts, trivia, and activities related to Eastern bluebirds.
- Eastern Bluebird Facts — Read through an online fact sheet to learn all the basics about Eastern bluebirds.
- Pictures of Eastern Bluebirds — View a photo gallery of the small, charming Eastern bluebird.
- Eastern Bluebird Activities and Resources — Try out some of these activities and explore the related resources to learn more about Eastern bluebirds.
- Quick Facts on Missouri's State Bird — Learn some interesting trivia about Eastern bluebirds.
- All About the Eastern Bluebird — Find out how female and male Eastern bluebirds differ and why their population was once reducing.
- Bluebird Boxes (PDF) — Why are there special bluebird boxes along Route 20?
- The Bluebird's Song — Listen to the song of the Eastern bluebird and other thrushes.
- Bringing in Spring — The arrival of Eastern bluebirds is a sure sign of spring! Many people construct bluebird houses in their backyards to enjoy the glorious sight of these pretty birds.
- Eastern Bluebird Coloring Page — Print and color in a picture of an Eastern bluebird.
- Bluebird Activity Pack (PDF) — Learn the difference between Eastern, Western, and Mountain bluebirds and how they live.
- Eastern Bluebird Webquest — In this webquest, kids get to explore why the Eastern bluebird might be in trouble and how we can help them.
- Eastern Bluebird Fact File — Get all the facts on Eastern bluebirds, along with audio samples and pictures.
- Eastern Bluebird's Food — Find out what the Eastern bluebird loves munching on best.
- Meet the Eastern Bluebird - Read about where Eastern bluebirds are commonly found.
- Bluebird Mates — Learn how mom and dad Eastern bluebirds work together to build a nest and raise babies.