Mountain Bluebird

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Common Name: Mountain Bluebird
Scientific Name: Sialia currucoides

Size: 6 ¼ - 8 inches (16-20 cm)

Habitat: North America; found mostly west of the Rockies from Alaska to Mexico. Their range varies from Mexico in the winter to as far north as Alaska, throughout the western U.S. and Canada. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range; southern birds are often permanent residents. Some birds may move to lower elevations in winter. They inhabit open rangelands, meadows, generally at elevations above 5,000 feet. Found in agricultural areas and prairie-forest edge with groves of trees, short grass, and few shrubs. It prefers more open habitats than the other bluebirds and can be found in colder habitats in winter.

Status: Least concern. Global Population: 5,200,000. The mountain bluebird has adapted to human activities and populations stable or increasing. The popularity of bluebird nest boxes have been a boon to the population.

Diet: Inserts and berries. These birds hover over the ground and fly down to catch insects, also flying from a perch to catch them. They may forage in flocks in winter, when they mainly eat grasshoppers. Mountain bluebirds will come to a platform feeder with live meal worms, berries, or peanuts.

Nesting: Mountain bluebirds are a monogamous breed. The male can be seen singing from bare branches. The singing takes place right at dawn, just when the sun rises. Nest in cavities in trees and snags, and frequently in nest boxes. Nest woven of grasses, lined with fine grass, soft bark, hair, or feathers. Only the female builds the nest. The male sometimes acts as if he is helping, but he either brings no nest material or he drops it on the way. 4-8 unmarked pale blue eggs are laid. Incubation normally last 14 days and the young will take about 21 days before they leave the nest. Both males and females fiercely protect the nest.

Cool Facts: It is the state bird of Idaho and Nevada.

Mountain and Western bluebirds compete for nest boxes, and may exclude each other from their territories. In the small area where they overlap, the Mountain Bluebird dominates the Eastern Bluebird. This relationship may limit the westward expansion of the Eastern Bluebird.

Myths, Stories & Legend: The mythology of the bluebird of happiness has deep roots that go back thousands of years. Indigenous cultures across the globe hold similar myths and beliefs about the bluebird. It is a widely accepted symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health, new births, the renewal of springtime, etc. Virtually any positive sentiments may be attached to the bluebird.

In magical symbolism, bluebirds are used to represent confidence in the positive aspect and egotism in the negative. A dead bluebird is a symbol of disillusionment, of the loss of innocence, and of transformation from the younger and naive to the older and wiser.

In American symbolism, "bluebird" refers to true thrushes (Turdidae) of the genus Sialia, in particular the Mountain Bluebird (S. currucoides) which is almost completely bright blue.

Many Native American tribes considered the bluebird sacred.

According to the Cochiti tribe, the firstborn son of Sun was named Bluebird. In the tale "The Sun's Children" from Tales of the Cochiti Indians (1932) by Ruth Benedict:

She nursed him until the Sun father came back. Sun returned to the girl, and the girl offered the child to him, saying, 'Here is your baby. It is a little boy.' They named him Bluebird (Culutiwa).

The Navajo hold the Mountain Bluebird to be a great spirit in animal form and associate it with the rising sun. The Bluebird Song is sung to remind tribe members to wake at dawn and rise to greet the sun:

Bluebird said to me,
"Get up, my grandchild.
It is dawn," it said to me.

The Bluebird Song is still used in social settings and is also performed in the nine-day Ye'iibicheii winter Nightway ceremony. It is the most revered song, as well as the closing act, performed just before sunrise on the final day.

A popular song titled "Bluebird of Happiness" was written by Sandor Harmati and Edward Heyman in 1934. It was recorded twice by Jan Peerce, becoming his "signature tune". It was also recorded by Art Mooney and His Orchestra, and others. Also the bluebird is in The Wizard of Oz’s “Over the Rainbow” by Arlen and Yarburg.

The bluebird of happiness is also mentioned in the film "K-Pax," as all the patients in the ward await the arrival of the blue bird.

In the film "Follow that Bird", the Sleaze Brothers kidnap Big Bird and put them in their fun fair, paint him blue and call him the Blue Bird of Happiness.

The blue bird is mentioned towards the end of the Beatles movie, "The Yellow Submarine", with the Bluemeanie leader saying, "You know I've never admitted it before, but my cousin is the bluebird of happiness."

Found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Legend

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