Little Boy Blue

Like the old adage says “All Scary and No Aviary Makes the Heart Grow Wary”  So that doesn’t happen to all my precious readers out there I’m going to give you a break from the recent batch of Halloween posts to bring you a bird shot.  This particular set of shots was taken  during our Red Rock Canyon visit back in November 2012.  Now I’ve featured the Mountain Bluebird before (link here) and the Eastern Bluebird (link here) has even made an appearance once or twice, but this is the first time I’ve brought out the Western Bluebird!

This little bird was hanging out not far from the side of the road fairly close to the entrance.  This happens to be another one of those classic times when I really thought I was just shooting an Eastern Bluebird and really didn’t think much of it at the time.  The Eastern was already checked off my list, but I NEVER pass up a bird in the field.  Time and time again I go into the digital darkroom thinking one thing only to come out fully surprised.

Hit the jump to read more about this colorful bird!

Besides, even if I did have this particular species, the setting was quite unique and really liked how the reddish, burnt hue was coming through from the red rocks far in the background.  Thought it complimented the similar coloring on the bird’s side and upper chest.  Noting that last element is what sent me to the reference books.  The Mountain Bluebird is downright obnoxious in its blue coloring – practically glows.  The Eastern Bluebird is very similar but there is one very easy identification that was confirmed with the reference manuals.  The Eastern has the reddish brown up on the neck as well.  The Western Bluebird has more of a blue neck as you can see from these pictures.

End result is another check in the bird list – Yah!!!  Apparently these particular birds are not that skittish.  This specimen had no concern of my presence (granted it was from the car, but it was basically parked directly out from it).  More shocking is it didn’t mind The Beast being pointed at it.  I’ve seen birds of prey freak out at the mere sight of it.    Eventually it left the interesting stump of a tree and moved to the more traditional branch platform.

The following shots are a little soft.  Can’t really provide an excuse for that other than I just didn’t execute.  I left them in here because they have a closer view of the bird in case you wanted to get a good look at the coloring.  The following one could probably be crisped up a bit in the digital darkroom.  The pose and overall coloring creates a nice composition so it may be worth taking another stab at it.

How about some interesting facts about this Bluebird.  First off they are actually in the Thrush family.  They tend to leverage the work of Woodpeckers to hollow out their nest areas (they are not equipped to drill out their own cavities).   Although they look fairly gentle, they can get downright nasty defending their territory.  Take this example from the Cornell Ornithology website “Rival males may grab each other’s legs, tumble to the ground, and then pin their opponent on the ground, stand over him, and jab at him with his bill”  Bad birdy, veryyyyy bad birdy.   They weigh in at the one ounce level and spend their summers eating insects – switching to berries during the Winter months.  Keep in mind this is Vegas so that last statement probably doesn’t apply to this lucky bird.


The best factoid of all.. they carry a Conservation Status of Least Concern.   That’s just the way we like it.  Recall all those “I’m a cutie bird” shots from above?  Well, similar to what happens with many birds, when this bird is shot straight on it takes on a whole new – “Fear Me” look.

I think it finally located The Beast in that last shot and maybe even saw its reflection in the glass – rival time!

That’s it Boy and Girls!  Now be sure and turn the lights on for the next post – we’ll be back on the Haunted Trail and don’t want any of you to get too scared.

3 thoughts on “Little Boy Blue”

  1. Wow, what a pretty bird! I was thinking it was an Eastern Bluebird myself until I started reading the text. My impression is that the Eastern Bluebird has a prettier blue belly, but not as pretty of a head and neck as this one. And actually the copper chest looks pretty cool.

    A lot of strange birds go through here during migration season. Saw a brown really spotted bird with a pointy beak (not a Starling, but bigger and longer) today, but I didn’t have my camera. In fact, I believe it was a Swainson’s Thrush, which is normally not around here but can be during migration–it was certainly a new bird to me. Wish I had that camera in the car.

    Thanks for the new bird!!



  2. You don’t keep a camera with you at ALL times!!!! I learned my lesson with missed shot after missed shot until I decided to put a camera in my car with our workhorse 80-2002.8 glass on it which we had replaced with our 70-200VRII2.8. I realize I have a luxury there, but I no longer have a sick feeling in the morning when I see a great sunrise or a bird/animal decides to come out for an early breakfast.

    I can see these two birds getting confused in the field – I was certainly fooled, but now that I know the key difference I should be able to spot the differences during the shoot. I do not have a Swainson’s Thrush – jealous that I haven’t even seen one – figure you will hold that over me along with all your Australian birds .. sigh

    Thanks for commenting!


  3. A Swainson’s Thrush is the best bird to see, ever!! Trumps everything else. In some circles it’s considered the mark of a true birder, I hear. 🙂

    (not even sure it was a Swainson’s Thrush)


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