Friday, April 10, 2009

Mountain Bluebird in Ohio

On or about April 5, a Mountain Bluebird was found near the Toledo Express Airport in Lucas County - Ohio's second record. Thanks to Martha Johns for getting it brought to light, although it sounds as if others might have seen the bird for up to a few days prior.

The last record dates to the winter of 1989-90, from deep in the back country of Tuscarawas County. Got to see that one myself, and hope that the current bird lingers long enough that I might add another Sialia currucoides to my Ohio list.

Thanks to George Sydlowski for sending along these magnificent documentary shots. They aren't just documentary - they are photographic art, and the subject ranks high among the most pleasing of North American songbirds. This one adds serious luster to last year's crusty brown stalks of Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus.

Of the three bluebirds, to my eye the Mountain Bluebird is the best looking. Somewhat less dumpy and more alert in posture than its brethren, a male such as this is shaded in an impeccable coat of pale sky blue. As with the others, this thrush is a cavity nester, and many a Mountain Bluebird is raised in nest boxes. Lots of people like them, and there are now bluebird trails galore, producing lots of bluebirds. Mountains are notorious wanderers, regularly appearing well to the east of their core range, and there may be increasing numbers to thrill easterners, as this bird has.
Amazingly, less than 50 miles away is Ohio's first state record Golden-crowned Sparrow, another westerner. Circumstances don't allow for visitation by the birding community, but there are great photos to document the bird. The Golden-crowned Sparrow is number 419, I believe, for the state list.


Jared Mizanin said...

Go see him! It's a gorgeous was present all three of my visits on 4/09 and allowed for some decent photos. As well, you know as well as I that the region hosts plenty of other cool flora and fauna to look at...

Tom said...

Howdy Jim-

Being a bird novice, I'm often left wondering what the fate of these way out of range birds ends up being. Will this bird find its way back to where there are other mountain bluebirds and reproduce? Will it plod along here in the East and eventually succumb? Is this bird an evolutionary dead end? Any thoughts?


Jim McCormac said...

Hi Tom,

While there's often no way of knowing, I'd say there is a good chance this bluebird will make its way back to western North America where he belongs. There are numerous confirmed records of vagrant songbirds returning for multiple years to the same spot. One hopes that they return to where they should be during the breeding season, and just for whatever reason opt to winter away from the pack.


Ray said...

I am not a bird watching enthusiast but I'm pretty sure there are a pair of mountain bluebirds nesting in a hole in a tree in my back yard in Independence, Ohio. I noticed these birds the day before Easter, and located their nesting hole about 1 week ago. There is no mistaking their bright blue color.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I saw a mountain blue bird in my back yard last night. I'm in a sub burb of Cleveland