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13 Blue Birds in Minnesota

blue birds in minnesota
Indigo Bunting at Lake Waconia, Minnesota: Photo by Arthur Mercado

Introduction

The vibrant hues of bluebirds grace Minnesota’s skies, adding a splash of color to its diverse landscapes. From the tranquil call of the Eastern Bluebird to the mesmerizing flight of the Belted Kingfisher, these avian wonders captivate both birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the mesmerizing blue birds that call Minnesota home.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

  • Features: The Great Blue Heron is a majestic wader with slate-blue plumage, a long, S-shaped neck, and a dagger-like bill. They have a wingspan of up to six feet and are often seen stalking prey in shallow wetlands and marshes.
  • Locations: Great Blue Herons can be found in freshwater and coastal habitats across Minnesota, where they forage for fish, amphibians, and small mammals.
  • Fun Fact: Great Blue Herons are skilled hunters, using their sharp bills to spear fish with lightning-fast precision.

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

  • Features: The Belted Kingfisher is a striking bird with powder-blue plumage, a shaggy crest, and a distinctive white collar. They have a habit of perching on branches overhanging water, where they dive headfirst to catch fish.
  • Locations: Belted Kingfishers can be found along rivers, lakes, and streams across Minnesota, where they forage for small fish, crustaceans, and insects.
  • Fun Fact: Belted Kingfishers have specialized skulls with air sacs that cushion the impact when they dive into the water at high speeds.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

  • Features: The Blue Jay is a familiar sight in backyards and woodlands, with vibrant blue plumage, a crest on its head, and distinctive black and white markings on its face and wings. They have a raucous call and are known for their intelligence and curiosity.
  • Locations: Blue Jays can be found in forests, parks, and suburban areas across Minnesota, where they forage for acorns, seeds, and insects.
  • Fun Fact: Blue Jays are skilled mimics and can imitate the calls of hawks, crows, and other bird species.

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

  • Features: The Tree Swallow is a graceful aerialist with iridescent blue-green plumage, a white belly, and long, pointed wings. They have a habit of swooping and diving over open water in search of flying insects.
  • Locations: Tree Swallows can be found in open habitats, including fields, marshes, and wetlands, across Minnesota during the breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: Tree Swallows form large colonies and are known for their synchronized aerial displays, particularly during courtship.

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

  • Features: The Purple Martin is a sleek, acrobatic bird with glossy blue-black plumage and a distinctive forked tail. They have a habit of nesting in multi-roomed birdhouses erected by humans.
  • Locations: Purple Martins can be found in urban and suburban areas across Minnesota during the breeding season, where they forage for flying insects.
  • Fun Fact: Purple Martins are highly social birds and are known for their communal roosting behavior, gathering in large flocks during migration and winter.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)

  • Features: The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a tiny songbird with slate-blue plumage, a white eye ring, and a long, slender tail. They have a habit of flitting through trees and shrubs in search of insects.
  • Locations: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers can be found in deciduous forests and woodlands across Minnesota during migration and breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are known for their distinctive vocalizations, including a high-pitched “wheeze” call.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

  • Features: The Eastern Bluebird is a symbol of happiness and hope, with vibrant blue plumage, a rusty-red breast, and a white belly. They have a melodious song and are often seen perched on fence posts and tree branches.
  • Locations: Eastern Bluebirds can be found in open woodlands, fields, and rural areas across Minnesota, where they forage for insects and berries.
  • Fun Fact: Eastern Bluebirds are cavity nesters and will readily use nest boxes provided by humans.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)

  • Features: The Mountain Bluebird is a stunning bird with sky-blue plumage, a white belly, and a slender bill. They have a habit of hovering over open grasslands and fields in search of insects.
  • Locations: Mountain Bluebirds can be found in open habitats, including mountain meadows and grasslands, across Minnesota during migration and winter.
  • Fun Fact: Mountain Bluebirds are known for their “hawking” behavior, where they catch insects on the wing by flying out from a perch and snatching them in mid-air.

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

  • Features: The Common Grackle is a medium-sized songbird with iridescent blue-black plumage, a long tail, and bright yellow eyes. They have a distinctive keel-shaped tail and a habit of foraging for seeds and insects in open habitats.
  • Locations: Common Grackles can be found in a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and urban areas, across Minnesota.
  • Fun Fact: Common Grackles are highly adaptable birds and are known for their aggressive behaviors towards other bird species, particularly at bird feeders.

Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea)

  • Features: The Cerulean Warbler is a small songbird with sky-blue plumage, a white belly, and a distinctive black necklace. They have a habit of foraging for insects in the canopy of deciduous forests.
  • Locations: Cerulean Warblers can be found in mature deciduous forests and woodlands across Minnesota during migration and breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: Cerulean Warblers are declining in numbers across their range due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)

  • Features: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a striking bird with deep blue plumage, a black throat, and a white belly. They have a habit of foraging for insects in the understory of deciduous forests.
  • Locations: Black-throated Blue Warblers can be found in mature deciduous forests and woodlands across Minnesota during migration and breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: Black-throated Blue Warblers are known for their distinctive “zee-zee-zoo-zoo” song, which can be heard echoing through the forest.

Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)

  • Features: The Blue Grosbeak is a stunning bird with deep blue plumage, a rusty-brown breast, and a massive bill. They have a habit of foraging for seeds and insects in open habitats.
  • Locations: Blue Grosbeaks can be found in grasslands, meadows, and agricultural fields across Minnesota during migration and breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: Blue Grosbeaks are known for their distinctive “chipping” call, which can be heard as they forage for food on the ground.

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

  • Features: The Indigo Bunting is a dazzling bird with deep blue plumage and a distinctive silvery bill. They have a habit of foraging for seeds and insects in shrubby habitats.
  • Locations: Indigo Buntings can be found in forests, woodlands, and urban areas across Minnesota during migration and breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: Indigo Buntings are known for their stunning courtship displays, where males sing from prominent perches to attract mates.

Threats and Conservation

While many of the blue birds mentioned in this post are common and widespread, others face significant threats to their populations. Habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and collisions with man-made structures are among the primary threats facing birds in Minnesota and beyond. Conservation efforts, including habitat restoration, land protection, and public awareness campaigns, are essential for ensuring the continued survival of these species for future generations to enjoy.

Citizen Science

Citizen science plays a crucial role in monitoring bird populations and identifying trends over time. Birdwatchers and amateur ornithologists across Minnesota can contribute valuable data to scientific research projects through initiatives such as the Great Backyard Bird Count, eBird, and the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. By participating in citizen science programs, individuals can help inform conservation efforts and contribute to our understanding of the natural world.

Conclusion

The diverse array of blue birds found in Minnesota showcases the beauty and wonder of our natural world. From the tranquil call of the Eastern Bluebird to the dazzling plumage of the Indigo Bunting, each species adds its unique charm to the state’s avian tapestry. By learning about these birds and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure that future generations have the opportunity to marvel at the azure wonders of Minnesota’s skies.