I frequently see a small flock of Western Bluebirds at the Arboretum. When the mistletoe berries are ripe, I see them in the oak trees around the parking lot. I also find them in the meadow above the creek trails, in the vicinity of the barn, or the south meadow.

On this cool, sunny afternoon in the south meadow, they were perched on the lower limbs of bigleaf maple trees as they scanned the ground for insects. When they located their prey, they quickly dropped down to the ground to catch it. They would often return to the maple limb. Or they would fly low across the ground and then rise to perch on an old flower stalk.

I usually hear them before I see them. They have a soft call note that can be given in flight or from a perch. Peterson describes it as a short pew or mew. Their song is strung together into gentle, stuttering notes that Audubon’s website describes as “a short, subdued cheer, cheer-lee, churr.”

Male western bluebirds have a colorful blue on their head, wings, and tail. Complementing the blue is a rust-orange breast and upper back. The female’s coloration is more muted. Her blue shows up as a subtle tint in the wings and tail. Her breast is a pale, orange wash. The throat is blue in males and grayish in females. Their bellies are whitish.

Nature is an inexhaustible source of wonder. Hope to see you out there.

See more of Bryan’s work here.


Peterson, Roger Tory. Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. 4th ed. New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.