Western Bluebirds At Sabino Canyon
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Western Bluebirds are winter residents of southern Arizona (their year-round range includes the northern part of this State). Bluebirds show up in the desert parts of Sabino Canyon each year in December or January and they stay until late February or early March. Usually these birds congregate in small flocks of a half dozen or so when they appear here. This year, to my delight, there seem to be more of them than I’ve seen in the past. In the past few weeks flocks of bluebirds seem to be all over the desert parts of Sabino Canyon. One need not walk more than a minute or two from the canyon’s Visitors’ Center in order to see bluebirds.
Bluebirds are omnivores. In the summer they feast on insects and other small invertebrates. In the winter, they shift their diet to include seeds and berries. In Sabino Canyon the bluebirds are attracted to the mistletoe plants that festoon many of the mesquite trees. The mistletoes produce berries and the bluebirds gobble them down.
These birds are very beautiful. The males have intense blue backs, outer wings, heads, and necks, orange breasts, and abdomens that range from whitish to blue.
They are relatively tame. I was able to approach some individuals quite closely simply by walking very slowly and quietly towards them.
Indeed, some of these birds seemed to be genuinely curious about the human who was observing them. This bird cocked his head in order to listen better when the shutter of my camera made repetitive clicking sounds as I made a burst of images of him.
Female bluebirds are less colorful than are the males, but they are by no means drab. I found this female, who was also curious about me, to be charming.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting. All images shot at ISO 400, f8. The first image shot with a shutter speed of 1/320, the second and third at 1/200, and the fourth at 1/1250.