State Bird of Idaho – A Blue-Winged Treasure of the Gem State!

Often called “The Gem State” for its abundance of rare minerals, the state of Idaho is home to a wide array of wildlife. From mountain goats to grizzly bears to vibrant birds, the state has a lot to offer visitors regarding its fauna.

Among these lies the state bird of Idaho, the Mountain Bluebird. Although a small bird by size, its personality and vibrancy are anything and will grab anyone’s attention that passes it.

In this article, we will take a closer look at this majestic bluebird, how it earned itself the title of the state bird, its habitat and lifestyle, and what makes it so special.

Appreciating the Mountain Bluebird: A Brief History

The Mountain Bluebird, or the Sialia currucoides, belongs to the thrush family and is a small passerine. It was in 1931 when the bird was officially designated the state bird of Idaho, in which its stark blue plumage played a big role. But there is a lot more to it than that!

Native American Tribes like the Nez Perce and Shoshone have associated the Mountain Bluebird with hope, happiness, and renewal. The Bluebird brings a blooming spring season to its legends, while its cheerful songs and bright colors portray a fresh beginning.

A mountain bluebird is perched on a wooden log

Moreover, John Muir, a naturalist from the late 1800s, described the bird’s plumage as a heavenly color, while naming the bird’s tune the voice of spring.

For centuries, the Mountain Bluebird has been one of the big centres of attractions for the people of Idaho and its visitors alike. And this has made this beloved bird a symbol for the state’s residents, natural beauty, and heritage.

Why Is the Mountain Bluebird the State Bird of Idaho?

With its large population in Idaho, it was no surprise when the Mountain Bluebird was picked to represent the state as the state bird. 

It is commonly seen in the state’s mountainous regions, making it a natural choice. But, besides being a common sight, the bird possesses some other qualities which helped it secure its title.

A male Mountain Bluebird  is perched on rock

Primarily, the bird’s vibrant blue feathers, paired with its beautiful songs one of the reasons it attracts locals and tourists alike and makes it fitting for the bird to represent Idaho’s culture and beauty. 

Additionally, as a mountainous bird, it is well known for its resilience as it survives in the harsh woods, reflecting the pioneering spirit of the Idahoans.

But that is not all. The bird is a unique species found exclusively in North America, where it is considered a symbol of renewal and hope-giving the state all the more reason to grant this majestic bird the title of the state bird.

A Deeper Look Into the State Bird of Idaho: Appearance, Behavior, Habitat & Diet

With its lively outlook and striking colours, the Mountain Bluebird will always catch the hearts of tourists and locals in the area.

But it is not just the outlook that captures the attention, but its unique characteristics, cheerful song, and so much more. Let us take a deeper look into this avian species.

1. Appearance And Anatomy 

The Mountain Bluebird is a relatively small bird that measures between 16 to 20 cm in length and weighs between 30 and 40 grams. Their appearance makes it easy to distinguish between their male and female counterparts. 

The male Bluebird has bright blue plumage extending from its crown to its tail. This is paired with a rusty orange breast. The female Bluebird has a less vibrant plumage but has a somber blue-grey back and wings paired with a grey breasts.

A female Mountain Bluebird is perched on a wooden log
A female Mountain Bluebird

The bodies of the Mountain Bluebird are very streamlined and developed to allow it to fly through the mountainous terrain efficiently. Additionally, the wings are rounded and short, ensuring the bird can maneuver clearly through the trees and mountains without facing trouble. 

The legs of the bird have also adapted quite well to its surroundings, as they are sturdy and short, helping them to perch on the rugged mountainous terrain.

Finally, its beak is short and straight, which helps the bird catch insects, as it is its primary food source.

Besides all these very functional features, one of the most impressive is the bird’s eyesight. Compared to the rest of its body, its eyes are pretty large, with a flat lens that helps the bird easily focus on distant objects.

2. Behavioral Traits of This Bird

Until now, we have mostly spoken about how visually striking the Mountain Bluebird is. But missing was that this bird is so much more than its outlook. There are many interesting and unique qualities that it possesses, which we are going to explore now.

Mountain bluebird is displaying aerial aerobatics

One of the unique traits this bird has is that it likes to perform aerial aerobatics during its mating season as a form of courtship display. These aerobatics range from hovering to diving to swooping and much more while singing their songs!

When it comes to making nests, they prefer cavities as opposed to branches. These nests are made from fine materials like pine needles and grasses, which are then lined with a softer material for comfort, such as animal hair or feathers. 

Unlike a lot of birds, the Mountain Bluebirds are monogamous birds. Which means they stay and mate with one partner throughout the breeding season. Once their offspring hatch, both parents stay for the incubating period to raise the young. 

3. Habitat Of the Mountain Bluebird 

The mountain bluebird resides in North America’s mountainous regions, including its home state of Idaho.

A Mountain Bluebird in a water source in its habitat

As its name suggests, the bird is adapted to life in the mountains. But it can also be found in other open habitats, including foothills and meadows.

When it comes to foraging or nesting, the bird prefers open spaces to the mountainous areas where it resides. This is mainly because the bird requires ample space to fly to look for food and hunt.

Bottomline, they are often seen in locations with little vegetation where they are more likely to find their primary food – insects.

4. Diet Of the Mountain Bluebird

So, far we have seen that the Mountain Bluebird’s primary diet consists of insects. From beetles to grasshoppers to caterpillars, this insectivorous bird feeds on them all.

A Mountain Bluebird eating an insect

But this only makes up one portion of their diet. The bird also loves to feed on berries and fruits, mostly during seasons when insects are scarce.

Elderberries, serviceberries, cherries, apples, and blueberries, the Mountain Bluebird consumes them all.

Interesting Facts About Idaho’s State Bird: The Mountain Bluebird

We have thrown quite a lot of information your way about the Mountain Bluebird, which let us look into these beautiful birds’ lives.

Now that we understand the bird better let’s learn some fun facts that will help make things even more interesting!

Mountain bluebird is foraging for insects

1. Blue Bodied Bird 

The Mountain Bluebird, the pride of Idaho, is the only North American bird with a blue body. There are many other birds throughout America that have partially blue bodies. Still, it is the only bird which has a completely blue body.

2. These Birds Are Migratory

Although the home of the Mountain Bluebird is the mountainous region of Idaho, it migrates during the winter to warmer areas in Mexico and California.

They tend to travel between their breeding and non-breeding grounds and sometimes go as far as Guatemala to find warmth during the colder months.

3. A Symbol of Hope 

Many have seen the beautiful image of a blue bird on postage stamps. This is because the Mountain Bluebird is seen as a symbol of hope in many cultures, including Native American tribes.

A Mountain Bluebird is perched on a wooden post

As a beloved bird among nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, the bird has made its way onto many postage stamps for its beauty. 

Wrap Up

An iconic species that is equally beautiful to look at, the Mountain Bluebird has been one of the top attractions for Idaho, making it just right that this beautiful bird gets to represent the state.

It not only acts as a wonderful view for tourists but plays an important role in the state as it helps to curb the insect population, making it a crucial part of the ecosystem.

While the bird is not endangered, it still faces some threats, which can be avoided through proper conservation efforts.

For the state of Idaho, the Mountain Bluebird symbolizes happiness, peace, and hope in its natural surroundings. This is why it is important to acknowledge the bird’s importance in the state, allow it to thrive in nature, and work towards the correct conservation efforts to ensure it does not become endangered.

Photo of author

Written and Fact-checked by David Neff

Author at BirdBonica

David is an expert birder and bird parent with in-depth knowledge of birds. He has years of experience observing birds in their natural habitats, studying their diets, behavior, and more. (Learn more about David here...)

Cite, Link, or Reference This Page

BirdBonica.com. "State Bird of Idaho - A Blue-Winged Treasure of the Gem State!." Webpage, June 29, 2023, accessed April 5, 2024, https://birdbonica.com/state-bird/idaho/.

BirdBonica.com (2024). State Bird of Idaho - A Blue-Winged Treasure of the Gem State!. Retrieved from https://birdbonica.com/state-bird/idaho/ on April 5, 2024.

BirdBonica.com. "State Bird of Idaho - A Blue-Winged Treasure of the Gem State!." Webpage, June 29, 2023, https://birdbonica.com/state-bird/idaho/, accessed April 5, 2024.

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