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Number of species: 80

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Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialis

Most Eastern Bluebirds are relatively easy to age and sex. Males are always more blue than females of the same age, even as juveniles. Age can often be determined from overall plumage, but in case of doubt, the wing and/or tail generally allow for easy confirmation.

Quick Tips:

  • Consider the upperparts - only AHY/ASY males are solid bright blue above, HY/SY males are mostly blue with a grayish tinge, AHY/ASY females are mostly grayish with a bluish tinge, and HY/SY females are largely grayish with limited blue
  • Look at the greater coverts - the presence of a molt limit between fresh blue and older brownish feathers indicates a HY/SY bird, however uniformly blue greater coverts are not an entirely reliable indicator of AHY/ASY, as some HY/SY may have replaced all their greater coverts, in which case there should be a molt limit between the blue greater coverts and brownish primary coverts
  • Examine the rectrices - if all are relatively narrow or there is a mix of narrow and fresher, broader rectrices this indicates an HY/SY individual, but note that some HY/SY bluebirds have uniformly broad rectrices similar to those of AHY/ASY individuals, as a result of a more extensive preformative molt

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Juvenile / Male
Thumbnail - MG2-2341-58819-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2943.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2341-58819-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2945.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2341-58819-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2944.jpg
Date: Jul 21
Hatch year / Male
Bluish above, with fairly extensive orange below; wing partly blue with contrasting brownish primary and (sometimes) greater coverts; rectrices bluish, but often relatively narrow and tapered.
Thumbnail - MG2-2251-52753-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2940.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2251-52753-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2942.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2251-52753-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2941.jpg
Date: Oct 7
Hatch year / Female
Largely gray above, with some pale orange on upper breast; wing grayish-blue with contrasting brownish primary and (sometimes) greater coverts; rectrices brownish-blue, but often relatively narrow and tapered.
Thumbnail - MG2-2251-52752-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2937.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2251-52752-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2939.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2251-52752-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-2938.jpg
Date: Oct 7
After second year / Male
Bright blue above, with extensive orange below; wing uniformly blue; rectrices blue, broad, and rounded
Thumbnail - MH3-2261-90727-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-3139.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2261-90727-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-354.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2261-90727-Sialia_sialis_AOU_7_52-3140.jpg
Date: May 2

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Second year / Male Blue above, with fairly extensive orange below; wing partly blue with contrasting brownish primary and (sometimes) greater coverts; rectrices bluish, but often relatively narrow and tapered.
After second year / Female Grayish-blue above, with pale orange on upper breast; wing uniformly grayish-blue; rectrices blue, broad, and rounded.
Juvenile / Unknown Largely grayish above, with back and shoulders mottled with white; males have blue primaries and secondaries while on females they are grayish-blue
Second year / Female Largely gray above, with some pale orange on upper breast; wing grayish-blue with contrasting brownish primary and (sometimes) greater coverts; rectrices brownish-blue, but often relatively narrow and tapered.
After hatch year / Male Bright blue above, with extensive orange below; wing uniformly blue; rectrices blue, broad, and rounded
After hatch year / Female Grayish-blue above, with pale orange on upper breast; wing uniformly grayish-blue; rectrices blue, broad, and rounded.
Number of species: 80

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