Eastern Bluebird

Photo by Jean Chamberlain
Pilot Creek Access, Pilot Mountain State Park
October 18, 2020

Photo by Jean Chamberlain
June 8, 2010

Photo by Jean Chamberlain
July 5, 2020 Long Creek Park

cheer-ee-oo-ee (rapid, fluty)
chatters between songs (anger)

What is known about bluebird song?

• Loud song and whisper song (Kroodsma 2005)
• 40-81 total song types (Gowaty & Plissner 2020)
• About 20% loud song (Huntsman & Ritchison 2002)
• Whisper song between male and mate (Gowaty & Plissner 2020, Kroodsma 2005))
• Family communicate with whistle (tu-a-wee)

•Battle of song before sunrise (simultaneous, loud, rapid songs)
(Kroodsma 2005)
•Don’t countersing (Gowaty & Plissner 2020)

Sometimes sing

How and when is it acquired?

•Fledge 17-18 days
•Fledglings remain in family groups for up to 3 weeks
•Young from early-season broods often join other juveniles and move in large flocks
•Learns from neighbors
•Juveniles isolated in captivity do not sing (Gowaty & Plissner 2020)
• No studies found on learning and sensitive periods
• New songs added throughout season (Gowaty & Plissner 2020)

How can we best facilitate song learning?

•Foster to nest, find similar size nestlings with room in nest
•Utilize bluebird box trails (contact local Audubon chapter)

They can be fostered. Put in a nest with young of similar size. 
Don’t overcrowd (7 max).
I found several bluebird trails where boxes are monitored. I placed 3 orphaned bluebirds (2 small, 1 large) in two nests on one trail in Greensboro.
I also have placed two in a box at neighbors.
We shouldn’t need to raise bluebirds.  Make contact with people who have bluebird boxes before the baby season.


Gowaty, P. A. and J. H. Plissner (2020). Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.easblu.01

Huntsman, B. O. and G. Ritchison. (2002). Use and possible functions of large song repertoires by male Eastern Bluebirds. Journal of Field Ornithology 73 (4):372-378.

Kroodsma, The Singing Life of Birds, ch 5, pp 325-334