Eastern Bluebird – Sialia sialis
Length: 7″; Wingspan: 13″; Weight: 1.1 oz.
Slightly smaller than its cousin the Robin, this bird is distinctive in its rusty red colored breast and white belly with a sky blue head, back and tail. The female shares the rusty red breast and white belly but is grayer with faint blue tails and wings. The song is a three part song that sounds like chur-lee chur chur-lee.
You will see these beautiful Eastern Bluebirds commonly perched on mailboxes alongside the roads of Seabrook Island and in the surrounding tree branches. They like open woodlands, meadows and fields and are year round inhabitants of this area. This was not always the case due to competition from other birds for their nesting holes and also the occasional cold spells that we have had that killed them off in large numbers. Their population declined by more than 90 % in the 20th century but thanks to efforts from bird lovers who have placed many bird houses in the area, their population is returning. There is also an increase in their population in winter when migrants from the north return to this area. If you are thinking of putting a birdhouse up, you should do this in early May to attract these migrants to stay. When you locate the birdhouse, try to keep it a discrete distance from other bird feeders so there is less activity to scare off new nesting birds.
Bluebirds enjoy a peanut butter corn meal mixture but really love live mealy worms which you can buy from Wild Birds Unlimited. They should be placed in an open bowl type feeder.
Their breeding habits are monogamous and they breed in pairs and small groups. The incubation period is 12 to 14 days and the young stay in the nest for 15 to 20 days. They usually brood 2 to 3 times a year with typically 2 to 7 light blue or white eggs.
Did you know that we have a Bluebird Society on Seabrook Island? It is run by Melanie Jerome with many volunteers. 71 bluebird boxes on 4 “Bluebird trails” around the island. There are boxes on the front and back nine of the Crooked Oaks course and the front nine of Ocean Winds. The other boxes are around the Lake House. The bluebird nesting season has ended for 2021. We had 309 eggs with 259 bluebird hatchlings. 253 fledged. That is a 97% fledge rate. These stats are reported to the Environmental Committee and the SC Bluebird Society. If you are interested in joining the Bluebird volunteers next spring, please go out to Seabrookislandbirders.org to let us know. No prior experience is necessary to join either group, just a love of birds and nature.
Article submitted by: Ron Schildge, resubmitted from 2016/07/31
Photographs provided by: Bob Hider & Charley Moore
This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents. When possible we will use photographs taken by our members. Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.