Sunday, June 10, 2012

Feeling Blue

I found a healthy helping of yellow birds in Pennsylvania, but yellow was not the only color putting on a strong display (why does it feel like I'm describing a Sesame Street episode?). The blue birds of Pennsylvania were also out in force. 

I had many opportunities to observe the lovely Eastern Bluebirds in the cloudy weather. It is fortunate that the overcast haze obscures the coloration a bit. Their electric blue is known to cause temporary blindness and paralysis if viewed in an un-filtered fashion. So, really, I'm doing you a favor dear reader...

The Eastern Bluebirds are told from their Western counterparts by the cleaner white on their bellies and the rusty colored chin (Western Bluebirds, shown below, have blue on their chins). This chin discrepancy has led to great debate among the Bluebirds.

The Western Bluebirds claim that, because they have blue chins, they're the truer and bluer of the bluebirds. The Eastern Bluebirds claim that they're just more comfortable and secure in their overcoat of blue, and so don't need to be showy or tawdry in their facial coloration. Of course, the sad truth is that the Mountain Bluebird puts both species to shame in terms of straight blue-ness, but neither Eastern nor Western Bluebirds like to talk about that.

It's an unsettling debate; one that's caused many the Bluebird to lose its balance.

And then there's the Indigo Bunting, which is such a rich blue that it's been formally disqualified from comparisons to the Bluebirds by the American Birding Association. I saw my first Indigo Buntings just a few weeks ago in Phoenix, and have now seen several more in Pennsylvania, where they were a little more accommodating.

With this much blue on display in PA, it is recommended that one does not listen to the blues or eat blueberries while out birding. It might cause a catastrophic sense-overload.


  1. You sure saw plenty of color up there in the northeast! I'm expecting to see some rollers and bee-eaters in your next post.

    Your trip sounds tons more exciting than mine was. Didn't get to do any birding in New Orleans, but I did discover that there's an Audubon zoo, aquarium, and insectarium there. Upon further investigation, they turned out to be owned by the Audubon Nature Institute, rather than the Audubon Society. Who knew! Anyway, I rather like the idea of an insectarium -- you don't see many of those around.

    1. It was a bonanza! Unfortunately, I didn't have any of the blue birds land on my head (like some hip people), so I can't say I had 'birds on the brain' 100%, but it was still pretty great.

      Ya know, I've never heard much about the Louisiana birding. Florida and Texas are so well represented, it seems like Louisiana kinda falls through the cracks in the mainstream birding vibe. It is neat that they have an insectarium there. Did you scurry inside?

      I am afraid I must disappoint you if you want some Rollers and Bee-Eaters. But hey, if you want to see some east coast gulls, common shorebirds, or some Bobolinks...ayyy you just wait!

  2. Thank you for id'ing and sharing the difference between these's easy to understand why people can confuse them. Nice clear shots!

    1. Ha thanks Chris. I don't know if I could call them all clear (in fact, I was a little disappointed I didn't do better) but I appreciate your kind words, as always.