By: Dawn Wilson
This week’s featured animal is the mountain bluebird.
In late February each year I start to look for the vibrant flashes of blue that appear in Estes Park. These aren’t speeding cars or fast bikers but rather the mountain bluebirds arriving from their winter homes. This welcome burst of color on a winter landscape is a sure sign spring is just around the corner.
1. Mountain bluebirds are one of the first migratory birds to return to Estes Valley in the spring, returning as soon as the bugs have emerged from their winter cocoons.
2. Mountain bluebirds are cavity nesters, using former woodpecker holes, rotted-out cavities or one of the dozens of nest boxes installed along fence lines and in trees at the golf courses in Estes Park.
3. Shortly after returning, the male bluebirds will begin looking for possible nesting sites in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. He will show them off to the females; she makes the final selection for the nest.
4. Mountain bluebirds nest from March to August, sometimes having two broods of nestlings during this time period.
5. These stunning birds feed primarily on insects, with studies showing as much as 92 percent of their diet consisting of animal matter. They can be seen hovering a few feet above the ground hunting for bugs.
Dawn Wilson is a professional and award-winning nature photographer who lives in Estes Park year-round. You can see more of her work and purchase prints at DawnWilsonPhotography.com.