By Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Ah, the Western Bluebird!"

        What could be better than to spot a bird and then find its feathers are blue with a rusty red on the chest? Ah, the Western Bluebird! This beauty breeds from southwestern Canada, south throughout the western half of the United States. It prefers semi-open country and forests. Fortunate for us, this beautiful bird frequented the low lands as well as the higher elevations Western Bluebirdof Utah this spring. They were present in Grafton, Rockville, Springdale, and in the heart of Zion National Park. They were reported in Bloomington, Santa Clara, Ivins, Brookside, and clear to Pinevalley. They frequent habitats that generally provide food throughout the year. When this happens, and the natural food supply is adequate, there is little reason for them to come to a feeder. However, as the Western Bluebird looks for new food sources within its home range, and if you have berry-producing plants in your yard, chances are, you will have frequent stopovers.

        This bird will raise its young in a manmade nest box or a tree cavity made by woodpeckers. Bluebird Studies show that Western Bluebirds are more successful with the nest boxes rather than in natural cavities. If you are interested in making a nest box, plans are available on the internet. Also interesting, Western Bluebirds will stay around and help their parents raise a new brood after their own nest fails, and they will help other birds of a different species.

        Western Bluebirds were once fairly common in the US. Today they are suffering a population decline with habitat loss and the competition for nesting sights from European Starlings and House Sparrows. The Western Bluebird is an exciting bird. Come along on our Field Trip to Pine Park and see if our expert birders can find one for you.

        The artist this week is Jerry Orban. Thanks to Jerry for this beautiful rendition of the Western Bluebird. For information about birds, nest boxes, or any of the Red Cliffs Audubon presentations or field trips call 435 673-0996.

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