white Mountain Bluebird

white, female Mountain Bluebird, Klickitat County, Washington

Copyright © 2003, Bob Hansen (bobhansen@gorge.net)

Stuart Johnston and I first observed this white female Mountain Bluebird on May 8th, 2003, when it and the male were associating with a bird house near Bickleton, Washington, in eastern Klickitat County. On our next visit to the bird house June 1st, when we didn't see any birds outside the box, Stuart stuck his finger in the hole and didn't hear or feel anything. We assumed the young, if any, had already hatched and left the nest. When he opened the bird box to see what was inside, there were 5 baby Mt. Bluebirds...all blue. He quickly closed the bird house and we immediately got in the car and waited, hoping the male and female would return. Soon they did, and at first the male seemed a bit tentative about going inside, but after a few minutes he did, and then both the male and female started feeding grasshoppers, beetles and other bugs to their young.

While we were there, two Violet-green Swallows came and appeared to try and get in the bird house. Maybe they were using it before the Mt Bluebirds came and thought the birds inside the bluebird box were their offspring. The male Mt Bluebird chased them away several times. The male seemed to be responsible for both feeding the young and protecting the nest by keeping watch and chasing away other birds, while the female just seemed to collect food. She would return to the nest every 5 -15 minutes, stay only for about 10 seconds, and then leave again to get more food. The male collected only half as much food for the young.

Submitted by Bob Hansen
Lyle, Washington