Mountain Bluebirds, Bright Jewels in Sedona and Northern Arizona
Mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides) are exquisite, jewel-like birds often seen as flashes of bright blue as the sun strikes them flying by. They prefer open meadows in Northern Arizona and are commonly seen around Williams, Arizona, about an hour and 15 minutes from Sedona. Here, they thrive in the relatively flat desert fields between majestic mountains like Humphreys Peak, and Sitgrieves, Kendrick, and Bill Williams mountains. From sunup to sundown, male and female pairs can be seen sitting on fence posts along roads or doing aerial acrobatics catching insects on the wing.
Of all the bluebirds, including the Eastern and the Western bluebird, the mountain bluebird is our personal favorite, although it's not as common in Sedona as the Western bluebird. The Western bluebird has an orange-red front, similar to the Eastern bluebird, with coloration not quite as intense as the Eastern. On the other hand, the male mountain bluebird is intensely turquoise blue, minus the red front. The female mountain bluebird is quite dull by comparison, an advantage helping to camouflage her from hungry predators.
The mountain bluebird is omnivorous, meaning it requires both plant and animal food such as small fruits and insects like flies, spiders, and grasshoppers. This makes it particularly beneficial as it controls insect pests while greatly enhancing the beauty of the area with its brilliant blue plumage and melodic birdsong.
To attract mountain bluebirds, you can add a birdbath to your yard, and if you're a little more inspired, you can put up bluebird nesting boxes. More information about the correct way to do this can be in this PDF download from the North American Bluebird Society.
It's important to follow directions when designing or placing bluebird nest boxes because the size of the hole, the dimensions of the box, the height of the box, the directional orientation, and placement of boxes from each other is all important. Bluebirds are territorial during the nesting season so more dominant couples will chase other bird competitors away if they get too close.
Although mountain bluebirds are fairly common in certain areas, their populations fell by approximately 26% between 1966 and 2014 (North American Breeding Bird Survey). For this reason, it makes sense to increase the presence of bluebird nest boxes in their ideal habitat.
According to Wikipedia: "Populations are declining in areas where trees are too small to provide natural nesting cavities, and where forest and agricultural management practices have reduced the availability of suitable nest sites. Among birds that nest in cavities but can’t excavate them on their own, competition is high for nest sites. Mountain, Western, and more recently Eastern bluebirds compete for nest boxes where their ranges overlap. House Sparrows, European Starlings, and House Wrens also compete fiercely with bluebirds for nest cavities." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_bluebird
On a final note, the bluebird has been referenced as a powerful symbol of happiness in many cultures dating back thousands of years.. Learn why here.