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THE WILD SIDE

THE COMING OF THE BLUEBIRDS

By Asenath La Rue

Bluebirds, both Mountain and Western types, arrive in abundance in our area in February and March. This is an excellent time to put up birdhouses to provide extra nesting spots for these beautiful critters. Many of their natural nesting places have been lost, as dead trees have been harvested for firewood or removed to make room for human homes.

Mountain bluebirds, with their brilliant blue wings and backs, and light blue or gray breasts, often winter in our area and can sometimes be seen flying together in small flocks. They love the open grassland spaces south and east of Santa Fe, as well as further north. Western bluebirds have rust or red breasts and they prefer a habitat with a few more trees. Both types of bluebirds will find their own food, but they would welcome more nesting spaces. If you put a new house up now, before spring starts in earnest, nesting pairs may have two or even here sets of offspring before the chill of fall sets in. During the winter, they often use these houses for shelter from snow and severe cold.

Iíve had many happy moments watching a pair of Western bluebirds at a nest box by my kitchen window. Despite the commotion of people and pets coming and going to our home, these intrepid little birds have raised two sets of fledglings two summers in a row. Seeing the brilliant blue flash of their wings in the morning light makes early rising worthwhile.

Photo courtesy of Stokes Field Guide to Birds.

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 1999 issue.

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