July 2, 2008

I Got the Blues

Before we get started, let me apologize to all seven of my loyal readers. I realize that I set up the Your BOTW blog with much fanfare and then disappeared for two weeks with not a single post. A tad bit rude. In my defense, though, I:

A. Went on a family trip to Yellowstone

Here we all are at a "bear jam."

B. Was struck down by an embarrassing skin disease caught while at Yellowstone (from a hot tub, grossly enough)

C. Served as matron of honor at the wedding of the season (while still suffering from said embarrassing skin disease)

Me at the wedding trying to look "matronly" with my husband.

It was a crazy couple of weeks. So, please forgive me (and feel a slight bit of pity for me). Now, back to birds.

While at Yellowstone, I was reminded of one of my all-time favorite birds. I saw this bird throughout the park, and proudly watched as its startling color and sweet voice caught the attention of even non-birding folks. And, when you’re competing for attention with wolves, bison, bears, geysers, and German tourists—that’s saying something.

Your BOTW is the mountain bluebird.

Photo Credit: Mac Knight

Fact: Mountain bluebirds are blue, brilliant blue. (The males, anyway.) When I look at them in my binoculars, I can’t help but think of Crayola words: Azure, Cerulean, Pacific, Indigo, Denim. Seriously stunning.
Fact: A male mountain bluebird is bright blue across its back, head, wings, and tail. The rest of its body is a slightly more muted blue. A female mountain bluebird is a brownish-blue overall. It’s pretty, but the male steals the show. (You regular BOTW readers should not be surprised by this.) See the video below. It's not super exciting, but if you watch long enough, you’ll see both the male and the female.

Mountain bluebirds can be found throughout the Western states, in high meadows, ranchlands, and even the occasional golf course.
Fact: The first pair of mountain bluebirds I saw in Yellowstone were copulating (that’s having sex, Patrick) over one of the Fountain Paint Pots. I felt a bit intrusive watching them, actually. Once satiated, they managed to charm a host of tourists (with whom I was happy to share my binoculars).
Fact: Speaking of sex, mountain bluebirds tend to be monogamous throughout the breeding season. (Although both sexes are known to do a little sneaking around if given the chance.)
Fact: Mountain bluebirds are cavity nesters, meaning they nest in holes they find in trees, buildings, and banks. Just the right cavity can be hard to come by, though, so more and more often they are making nests in manmade nest boxes.
Fact: Whether nesting in a natural cavity or a nest box, the female mountain bluebird gathers up dry grass, pine needles, dry bark, and even horsehair to construct a proper nest within the cavity.
Fact: Males mountain bluebirds rarely help in this nest construction. Oddly enough, they will pick up nesting materials while following their mate around, but they always drop it before reaching the nest.
Fact: Female mountain bluebirds get their revenge once the babies hatch, though. The first few weeks, the male is allowed to bring food to the nest, but the female will not allow him to feed or touch the hatchlings.
Fact: Mountain bluebirds eat mostly bugs (and occasional berries). They typically hunt insects and worms from a perch like a fencepost or tree limb. They are also known to hover above the ground before diving to catch insects.

This has been Your BOTW.

P.S. Stay tuned for a full report on my exciting day of Goose Banding!!


Rachel said...

Wooo! First comment!

That's a pretty one! I do so love BOTW...

Kelly Branan said...

Wow, that's one blue bird. Pretty bird, pretty bird...

Anonymous said...

Um, I know what copulating is! I do it by myself every night! - Patrick

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