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Breeding Birds: Western Bluebird : Western Bluebird

September 29, 1989|Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

(Sialia mexicana)

Description: Male's underparts and throat are deep purple-blue; breast, sides and flanks are chestnut; belly and undertail coverts are grayish. Female duller, brownish-gray above; breast and flanks tinged with chestnut, throat pale gray.

Habitat: Common in open woodlands, golf courses and farms.

Diet: Insects, snails, earthworms and other invertebrates; berries.

Display: Courting male sings and flutters in front of female, wings half open, tail spread, then perches beside and preens female, and may offer food.

Nest: In natural cavities, often in those excavated by woodpeckers.

Eggs: Pale blue to bluish-white and occasionally white, unmarked, slightly less than one inch long.

Natural history notes: The western bluebird has declined in some areas under competition from other cavity-nesting birds, especially the European starling. Some members of the local Audubon Society have had some success with placing nest boxes, with entrances big enough for the bluebird but too small for the starling, near golf courses and other areas where bluebirds are found.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into five-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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