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10 Blue Birds in Wisconsin 

blue birds in wisconsin
Indigo Bunting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Photo by Lorri Howski

Introduction

From shimmering swallows swirling over prairie grasslands to the stately great blue heron stalking wetland margins, a variety of vivid blue-hued birds make their homes in the Badger State. Their cool azure tones stand out brilliantly against Wisconsin’s canvas of forest, field, and waterways. Let’s explore some of the top blue birds gracing Wisconsin.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

  • Features: Largest heron in North America with blue-gray plumage, long neck, dagger-like bill, and plume projecting from head. Slow deep wingbeats. 
  • Locations: Year-round resident along Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers, marshes, ponds. Stalks shorelines hunting fish, frogs, small prey. 
  • Fun Fact: Nests high in trees in large colonies called heronries, often reusing the same site annually. Young utter raspy calls from nest. 

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

  • Features: Stocky icy-blue body with shaggy crest. Females have rusty band across belly. Large head with dagger-like bill.
  • Locations: Found year-round near waterbodies statewide. Perches over streams and lakes diving for fish. 
  • Fun Fact: Excavates nesting tunnels up to 15 feet deep into riverbanks. Parents take turns feeding fish to noisy chicks. 

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

  • Features: Crested blue, black, and white jay with blue crest, wings, and tail. Black necklace across throat. Loud forceful calls. 
  • Locations: Found year-round in Wisconsin’s deciduous forests, woodlots, parks, and residential areas with trees. 
  • Fun Fact: Omnivorous food like acorns, insects, eggs, grains. Known for intelligence and mimicry skills. Form long-term pair bonds.

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

  • Features: Iridescent dark blue-green back and wings, white belly. Long pointed wings, short legs. Floating, gliding flight. 
  • Locations: Summers in open areas across Wisconsin. Winters along tropical coasts. Cavity nester using birdhouses. 
  • Fun Fact: Aerial insectivore that catches flying prey like flies and mosquitoes. Dive bombs intruders near nest.

Purple Martin (Progne subis

  • Features: Largest North American swallow. Dark blue-black plumage with sheen. Forked tail. Graceful aerialist.
  • Locations: Summers in open areas statewide. Nests in colonies using artificial multi-unit houses. Winters in South America. 
  • Fun Fact: Males arrive first to claim prime nest cavities. Males feed incubating females. Young beg with musical chirping calls. 

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

  • Features: Dark steely blue upperparts, pale underparts, deeply forked tail. Flying insects make up its entire diet. 
  • Locations: Nests under bridges, cliffs, barns, and buildings statewide. Migrates to Central and South America.
  • Fun Fact: Males with longest tail streamers are preferred by females. Both parents feed nestlings.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea

  • Features: Tiny gray-blue songbird with thin bill, white eye-ring, long white-edged tail. Constantly foraging.
  • Locations: Summer breeder in semi-open woods and scrub statewide. Winters along Gulf Coast and Mexico.
  • Fun Fact: Forages actively in trees for tiny insects like beetles, moths, ants, bees. Song is a distinctive mewing call.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

  • Features: Medium-sized thrush with brilliant blue upperparts, rusty breast and flanks, white belly.  
  • Locations: Year-round resident requiring cavities, open country with scattered trees.  
  • Fun Fact: Male helps feed nestlings and defend territory. Eats insects plus some berries. Declined from habitat loss.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens

  • Features: Male has black face and throat, bright blue back, white belly. Female is olive-brown without black.
  • Locations: Breeds in Wisconsin’s mature deciduous and mixed forests. Winters in Caribbean. 
  • Fun Fact: Hops along branches picking off insects. Males sing a buzzy “zoo zee zoo zoooo” song to defend territory. 

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

  • Features: Small seed-eating finch. Vibrant blue males in summer, females plain brown. White wing patches in flight. 
  • Locations: Breeds in summer along brushy field edges, hedgerows, open woodlands. Winters in Central America.  
  • Fun Fact: Sings brief song of paired notes. Forms loose migratory flocks. Favors seeds from grasses and forbs in winter.

Threats and Conservation  

Habitat loss poses significant threats, as development degrades wetlands, forests, and shrublands required by various species. Pesticides reduce insect prey populations critical for aerial feeders. Climate change may alter suitable ranges and prey abundance. Window collisions also impact migratory species.

Protecting habitat diversity through parks, reserves and sustainable development provides essential breeding and migratory stopover areas. Reducing use of pesticides leaves more insect prey. Implementing bird-friendly architecture prevents deadly collisions. Keeping pet cats indoors protects birds. Support for international conservation helps migrants. 

Citizen Science

Wisconsin birders contribute vitally:

  • eBird sightings provide valuable data on species distribution, abundance, migration timing, and population trends.
  • Nest box trails for cavity nesters like bluebirds allow tracking productivity and boosting populations. 
  • Banding reveals survivorship, site fidelity, migratory routes and timing, reproductive success.
  • Surveys engage people in counting birds while connecting with nature.
  • Outreach inspires future generations to appreciate Wisconsin’s avian diversity.

Conclusion

From wetland waders to soaring aerialists, Wisconsin’s blue birds brighten every habitat. Protecting fragile environments and monitoring populations will ensure these cool-toned beauties continue gracing the Badger State for generations to come.