The mountain bluebird is slightly larger and slimmer in appearance than the other bluebirds, with longer wings and tail. It has a beautiful, rich sky-blue head, back, tail and wings. It has blue on the chest and a very light blue or white lower underside. Some male mountain bluebirds show traces of red on the throat and chest.
The female is grayish with a white belly. The wings are not as colorfully marked as on the male and the blue in the rump, tail and wing feathers is inconspicuous in flight. The female may show a reddish wash on the neck and throat.
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During the breeding season found most often at higher elevations, moving to open lowlands and drier areas during the winter. Preferred areas include pastures with short grass, along golf courses, open park land and cemeteries. Meadows and open areas in coniferous forests are also likely nesting locations. Nearby trees or wires provide adults with places from which to hunt and young birds a place to rest when they first leave the nest.
Nests in natural cavities or nest boxes, generally from 2-50 feet above the ground. The male often selects 2 or 3 likely nest locations from which the female makes the final choice. The nest is built by the female from pine needles, grasses, shreds of bark and occasionally animal hair or feathers.
4 to 8, usually 5-6; 22 mm.; light blue, occasionally white.
The female incubates the eggs and both sexes care for the young. Incubation lasts approximately 13-15 days; young fledge at 17-22 days.
Number of Broods:
1, 2 or sometimes 3 in the southern part of their range.
Young generally naked and helpless after hatching. May have patches of down.
Often observed hovering or hawking for insects. Feeds mostly on spiders and insects in the spring, with insects the more prominent diet staple in the summer. The diet switches to berries and seeds as colder weather reduces the supply of insects.
Mountain bluebirds will visit feeders for fruit and especially mealworms.
Mountain and Western Bluebirds will compete for the same nesting location and may try to exclude the other species from its territory.
There are numerous winter reports of Mountain Bluebirds outside their normal range.