Friday, March 16, 2012

Mountain Bluebirds: The Sure Sign of Spring!

The Bluebirds are coming!  The Bluebirds are coming!  Oh, wait - that was Paul Revere...  It is a sure sign of spring because the Mountain Bluebirds have made their way back to Custer State Park in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. 

Mountain Bluebird in Custer State Park by Dakota Visions Photography LLC


This last weekend, we had the opportunity to photograph the first of the bluebirds as they began occupying the man-made nesting boxes in Custer State Park.  Each year, the park ensures that there are plenty of nesting boxes made by volunteers and park staff available for the bluebirds.  Along the fenceline of the airport in Custer State Park, keep a watchful eye out for the bluebirds.  We have also seen them in the open prairie along the western entrance to the Wildlife Loop Road. 

Mountain Bluebird in Custer State Park by Dakota Visions Photography LLC


Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
Size: 7" (18cm)
Male: An overall sky blue bird with a darker blue head, back, wings & tail and white lower belly.  Thin black bill.
Female: similar to the male, but paler with a nearly gray head and chest and a whitish belly.
Nest: cavity, old woodpecker holes, wooden nest box; female builds; 1-2 broods per year
Eggs: 4-6; pale blue without markings
Incubation: 13-14 days; female incubates and during the 22-23 days of fledgling status both the female and male feed the young
Food: insects

Mountain Bluebird in Custer State Park by Dakota Visions Photography LLC


Notes from Birds of the Dakotas Field Guide :
Common in open country, nesting in the western Dakotas.  Due to conservation of suitable nest sites (dead trees with cavities and man-made nesting boxes), populations have increased dramatically over the past 50 years.  Like other bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds take well to nesting boxes and tolerate close contact with humans.  Young will imprint on their first nesting box or cavity, then choose a similar type of box or cavity throughout the rest of life.

Mountain Bluebird in Custer State Park by Dakota Visions Photography LLC Buffalo Bison


As you can see from the picture above, they tolerate close contact with buffalo as well!

We hope you enjoyed this touch of spring and think about the bird population in your neck of the woods.  Beautiful bird photography takes practice.  And don't forget, we discussed Bird Photography: Opportunities to Overcome - 5 Tips in a previous post. 

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