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Inside Idaho’s state bird: how to spot and where to look for the Mountain Bluebird

In last week’s edition of Inside Idaho, we dove into the state’s fish: the cutthroat trout. This week, we are going up into the skies, taking a look at the state’s bird: the Mountain Bluebird.

While Idaho has hundreds of bird species, the Mountain Bluebird was suggested by a group of grade school children and adopted by the Idaho State Legislature in 1931.

The bluebird is a songbird that is about 6 to 7 inches long. Male bluebirds have a pale blue chest and darker sky blue area on their backs with a white belly while females are blue-grey with blue wings and tail.

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Bluebird symbolism

“Even in the harshest climates, when they have a scarcity of food, these birds still manage to sing cheerfully,” the Sonoma Birding website notes.

The bluebird is a symbol of hope, love, and renewal.

“It is a sign that you should never lose faith, even in your darkest hours. You must hold on to the belief that in the end, it will all be alright.”

The bluebird is also a part of many Native American legends. “Their numerous people illustrate the bluebird as an omen and also an advisor in their fork folklore, stories, and also tales,” The Bird Nature website notes.


Idaho’s Western Bluebird. Photo courtesy USDA Forest Service.

During the summer, the Mountain Bluebird lives in higher elevations from 5,000 feet to 12,000 feet – giving it its name. During the winter months, however, it covers lowlands and desert areas.

Built by both males and females, the nests are found in hollow trees and crevices. They eat insects and berries including elderberries and grapes.

The Mountain Bluebird isn’t just Idaho’s state bird, Nevada adopted it in 1967.

Idaho is also home to the Western Bluebird. How can you tell the difference? Western bluebirds have a rusty-colored chest while Mountain Bluebirds have a blue chest.

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Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporterhttps://boisedev.com/author/annadaly/
Anna Daly is a reporter for BoiseDev. She's an Emmy-winning journalist, and a professor at the College of Western Idaho. Contact her at anna@boisedev.com.

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