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14 Blue Birds in Oklahoma

blue birds in oklahoma
Little Blue Heron in Alfalfa, Oklahoma: Photo by Lucas Bobay

Introduction

Oklahoma’s sweeping open terrain through woodlands and along waterways sustains over 450 diverse bird species in essential ecological roles. Among backyard nesters and migrants navigating the state, many dazzling blue-feathered birds contribute color and ecosystem services. This article explores some top blue birds in Oklahoma.

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

  • Features: This petite slate-blue heron has a purple-maroon neck and head as an adult, while the juvenile is all white, inspiring the “little white heron” name. Needle-like bill for hunting small prey.
  • Locations: Found year-round along Oklahoma’s marshy lakes, rivers, and ponds, more solitary than larger herons. Winters along the southern U.S. coast. 
  • Fun Fact: A patient hunter, standing motionless waiting to strike aquatic creatures like small fish, frogs or crustaceans by water’s edge using specialized slender toes.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens

  • Features: This compact heron shows greenish feathers on the back and wings sets off a chestnut body and bold black cap culminating in rear white racing stripes down the tail. Yellow legs indicate its affinity for shallow water fishing using tools and lures. 
  • Locations: Found year-round along Oklahoma’s swamps, creek banks, ponds and floodplains lurking solitarily waiting to ambush small aquatic animals venturing close. Wary unless intent on hunting.  
  • Fun Fact: This resourceful heron may use bait to lure curious minnows by dangling insects or feathers overhead from their foot while poised to strike.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

  • Features: This statuesque wader sustains blue-gray plumage with a white facial stripe nearly 4 feet tall. Fluffy decorative plumes wave behind its regal head during spring breeding season. Slow yet graceful when roaming wetlands searching for fish, frogs and more.  
  • Locations: Found year-round along Oklahoma’s lakes, rivers, marshes and ponds, often seen wading shorelines or standing motionless patiently stalking prey. Nests colonially in high branches over water.
  • Fun Fact: Walks steadily through shallow water before striking quickly with dagger-like bill. Nestlings hatch helpless but grow rapidly on fish from attentive parents. Young utter loud rasping calls begging to be fed. 

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  

  • Features: This stocky bird has a shaggy double crest and dense blue plumage on head, chest and back set off by white underparts. Females also boast a rusty orange band across the abdomen. Heavy pointed bill.
  • Locations: Found year-round nesting along Oklahoma’s shorelines, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Perches conspicuously over water before plunge-diving to catch fish and crayfish. Call is a loud rattle. 
  • Fun Fact: This kingfisher excavates long tunnels up to 15 feet deep into exposed riverbanks for nesting and roosting. Parents take turns feeding the noisy chicks fish and crayfish brought from waters near their tunnels. 

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  

  • Features: This familiar loud blue, black and white songbird has bright cobalt blue wings, tail, and blue-black markings. White and black spotting on the back/wings. Omnivorous opportunist willing to sample many foods.
  • Locations: Found year-round breeding across Oklahoma near mature forests, woodlots, parks and backyards. Forms winter flocks traveling between food bonanzas. 
  • Fun Fact: A highly intelligent mimic and forest sentinel, with blue jays rapidly sounding alarm calls to other birds warning of potential predators nearby. Though sociable, mates tend to bond very closely, staying together year-round.   

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

  • Features: Dark blue iridescent upperparts and snow white front make this fragile-looking swallow species familiar. Pointed wings reveal distinct feather joint patterns. Flocks migrate long distances tracking insect population booms.  
  • Locations: Nests readily in boxes attracting mates with dazzling aerial displays. Found breeding statewide near open water bodies like rivers and beaver ponds.  Most winter along the U.S. Gulf Coast farther south.
  • Fun Fact: Hawks flying insects masterfully snatching them midair. Parent blue birds line nests with feathers often plucking downy belly feathers directly from their own exposed chest brood patches.

Purple Martin (Progne subis)   

  • Features: Largest American swallow showing dark blue-black iridescence with paler gray underparts. Light sheen visible at close distances. Deeply forked tail and long wings enable speedy flight chasing aerial insects across the skies. 
  • Locations: Summer breeding resident in Oklahoma near mixed open forests and fields providing foraging opportunities. Requires open areas with nesting structures nearby. Winters in South America.  
  • Fun Fact: A colonial nester accepting apartment-style bird houses. Males arrive first in spring to claim prime protected nesting cavities high off the ground, then attract the best females with dramatic aerial displays.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

  • Features: In flight shows off steel blue upperparts, peach orange throat patch and forehead coloring. Tail is deeply forked. Aerial masters catching flies and other insects midflight with superb maneuverability. Mud cup nests constructed on vertical surfaces.
  • Locations: Found during summer widely across Oklahoma farms, bridges and rural buildings. Most migrate to Central and South America for winter.
  • Fun Fact: Males with the longest tail streamers tend to claim the most mates. Barn swallows gather by the thousands at choice roosting sites when preparing to migrate south for winter each year. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea

  • Features: A tiny grayish sky blue songbird with thin sharp bill and very long white-edged tail. Constantly fans and flicks tail in brush while actively foraging for insects. Male sings distinctive buzzy mating call when displaying.
  • Locations: Summer breeder statewide in Oklahoma’s open deciduous woods and scrubby areas. Winters along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  
  • Fun Fact: Preys on tiny annoyances like leafhoppers, spider mites, treehoppers and caterpillars gleaning them from foliage during almost perpetual motion through canopies.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)  

  • Features: Medium-sized thrush with sky blue upperparts on males, rusty red-orange breast and white belly. Will pause between successive perching hops when hunting grassland insects.  
  • Locations: Found year-round in open country with some scattered trees statewide. Require cavities for nesting in abandoned woodpecker holes or nest boxes. 
  • Fun Fact: Male helps feed hatchlings and defend female while she broods nestlings. Bluebird numbers dropped historically from habitat loss and competition but rebounded recently thanks to nest box efforts.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)  

  • Features: Male has brilliant turquoise blue wings and tail, soft sky blue throat, and pale gray underparts. Female is mostly sandy brown with hints of blue on wings, rump and tail.
  • Locations: Found year-round breeding in Oklahoma’s open meadows, pastures and pine-oak forests. Sometimes overwinters where fruit crops persist. 
  • Fun Fact: Hunts insects like grasshoppers from low perches like powerlines and fence posts. Will migrate east in winter following fruit crop production cycles when native foods fail.  

Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea

  • Features: One of North America’s bigger songbird species. Stout finch bill. Male has velvety blue plumage with rusty brown wing bars. Female is mostly warm brown with white wing spotting. Beautiful whistled song carries far.
  • Locations: Breeds in overgrown thickets and field edges statewide before migrating closer to the equator for winter.  
  • Fun Fact: The male sings a rich, robin-like warbling song to proclaim his nesting site, often in early successional scrubby habitat. Will come to platform feeders for some foods.

Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)  

  • Features: Smaller blue-hued finch related to the Indigo Bunting. Males shine brightly with sky blue head and back, reddish wing bars and buffy white breast band. Females nondescript grayish brown overall with subtle wing patterning.  
  • Locations: Breeds in open scrub and woodlands statewide. Winters along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.  
  • Fun Fact: Blue males have streaked white bellies unlike solid baby blue Indigo Buntings. Rarely seen amongst female flocks while foraging seeds during migration and wintering. 

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

  • Features: Small seed-eating finch. Breeding males glow unmistakable vibrant cerulean blue. Females mostly dull brown with slight blue sheen in wings. Sharply conical bill suits diet. Sweet varied song.  
  • Locations: Summer breeding visitor in weedy fields and open shrubby areas statewide. Winters down to Panama.  
  • Fun Fact: Pigment has nothing to do with dazzling feather color, rather microscopic feather structures refracting specific wavelengths create this spectacular optical effect only recently understood by science!

Threats and Conservation 

Habitat pressures severely threaten breeding and migratory stopover habitats for blue birds in Oklahoma. Careful stewardship of essential roosting sites ensures migratory species continue embellishing the sky during biannual passages. Installing mirrored film deterrents on glass buildings reduces mortality events for birds mistaking reflections as open airspace. Teaching children early and often engenders committed generations who value environmental and wildlife protections.

Citizen Science Opportunities

Oklahoma birders contribute: 

  • eBird checklists show population statuses and distribution shifts signaling issues 
  • Breeding bird atlases map ranges needing preservation 
  • Nest box availability projects boost reproductive success
  • Banding reveals migratory routes and survivorship 
  • Annual Christmas Bird Counts tally wintering species in the state

Conclusion

Oklahoma sustains awesome bird diversity across prairie, plain and pine forests. Among the remarkable 450 wild species counted statewide, blue feathered beauties seen on migration or nestling down each spring capture special acclaim dazzling devoted birdwatchers through their airs paces, forest foraging, nest constructions and enduring environmental services maintaining ecological balance season after season.