Thursday, September 23, 2021

Western Bluebird

Scatter Creek Recreation Area is an upland prairie area about 20 miles south of Olympia. On 21 September 2021, Erika and I found a flock of a half-dozen Western Bluebirds feeding west of the parking area. Typical of the species, the birds perched on low branches and captured insects from the ground. The bluebirds then returned to their perches to consume their prey. As you can see in the last photo, birds often beat larger insects that have hard exoskeletons against the ground or on the bird’s perch. In the summer Western Bluebirds eat mostly insects—in the winter they switch to small fruits and some seeds. Studies show that Western Bluebirds enjoy a wide variety of prey items—crickets, like in these photos, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, bugs, ants, spiders, wasps and bees, and a host of other arthropods. Snails and even lizards have also been reported as prey items (Guinan et al. 2020). 
Western Bluebirds look somewhat similar to their eastern relatives. They can be told apart by their blue, not chestnut, throats. Often Western Bluebirds sport chestnut backs, unlike the blue backs of Eastern Bluebirds.  

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