Backyard Bird of the Month for December: Eastern Bluebird

An increasingly common sight during Maine’s winter is the bright sky blue flash of an Eastern Bluebird lingering in our backyards. The trend has been well documented thanks to long running surveys like the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), showing that just a couple of decades ago bluebirds were scarce here in winter. In the 90s and even the early 2000s, only 10 to 20 bluebirds were counted across Maine during the CBCs, but this has ramped up with more than 140 in 2012, 265 in 2013, and more than 336 in 2014. Numbers were steady in the mid 400s for a few years, then we cracked 600 in 2020! These counts have been increasing from the southern and coastal counts, and spreading northward; a pattern consistent with what we expect from climate change expanding a species’ range. While they are primarily eating insects in the summer, bluebirds are quite omnivorous in the winter and favor fruit-bearing shrubs like winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and can also be attracted to your yard by offering dried mealworms. Read more about Eastern Bluebirds in Maine’s winter here.

 

Backyard Bird of the Month is a feature by Maine Audubon created for the Maine Home Garden News, the newsletter of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Garden and Yard