By Dan Jordan, JordanPhotog.com
To many, eastern bluebirds are a common sight. Afterall, they’re the official NYS bird. That makes it especially puzzling that I had never seen one except fleeting glances as I drove, until this summer. Of my 1.2 million photos in my archive, not a single bluebird photo existed.
People who know me, know that I am out among the wildlife in WNY just about every day, so it was inconceivable that I had never logged a bluebird photo. Well, that all changed on August 5th when I was delivering some photos to a client in Westons Mills. I spotted a bluebird on an electrical wire. Not great photos because the bird was backlit, but indeed, I had my first bluebird photos. Here’s that first image.
Since then, a friend in Eldred, PA tipped me off about a site where bluebirds abound, and I have nearly 1000 great images of them taken this summer. As I always do with these articles, I try to include a bit of knowledge along with the photos, so let me dive into the information.
Besides being the official state bird of NYS, the bluebird also serves as the state bird of Missouri. Bluebirds are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is unlawful to transport, capture, or kill native bluebirds and you may not move a nest, if active, until nesting season is over.
Bluebirds are territorial and can get quite ferocious in protecting their partners, children, and territories. Bluebirds are cavity nesters and have no issues using manmade structures for nesting. Their nests are made from woven grass. Bluebirds are largely monogamous. Their diet consists mostly of insects (up to 90%). If you are trying to attract eastern bluebirds to your location, try a dish full of live mealworms. (I, for one, am going to try that next year!)
Bluebirds are very melodious but surprisingly, they don’t open their beaks when singing. They are very social, living in groups of up to 100 birds. The “flock” that I’ve been photographing in PA is a large social group, maybe 50 birds or more.
So, let’s look at some photos, shall we? As I mentioned, a friend tipped me off about a large flock of bluebirds in Eldred, PA. How odd is it that I must travel outside of NYS to photograph our state bird? The remaining photos are from the Eldred flock.
This next image is of a male, perched in a tree 50 feet or so from my mobile bird blind (my company van). Its colors are stunning!
The next photo is of a female which perched right next to me. She was so close, in fact, I had to switch lenses to be able to photograph her.
The last photos are of bluebirds in flight, to give you a sense of their beauty in motion. The feature image is of a female in flight while the last is a composite of a juvenile perched on a fence post, then in flight (same bird composited into a single photo).
Well, now you hopefully know a little more about our state bird and have seen their beauty as captured through my lens. Keep your eyes open for flashes of blue. If you happen into a flock and can sit in your car very quietly, you may have a chance to be entertained by these lovely creatures.
Dan Jordan is an Allegany resident, a professional photographer, scientist, and nature lover. Many of his photos are on display at his studio in Olean, NY and on his Facebook page.