Singin’ the Blues!

This past weekend, my family and I enjoyed a long weekend in Nashville where we visited the Grand Ole Opry, the Gaylord Conservatory, The Hermitage, the Johnny Cash Museum, the Nashville Palace, and the Bluebird Cafe. The Gaylord was the largest collection of tropical plants I ever encountered this side of the Amazon River and the Bluebird was smaller than my front porch. But both made me think about the native Blue Birds here in Georgia and I realized there were only three that were regularly encountered.

The Bluebird Cafe – unbelievably small!
The Gaylord Conservancy – unbelievably huge!

So it is also with bluebirds – one small, one in the middle, and one somewhat large – especially the head and beak. The first one to look at is iridescent blue and, in fact, many times, one sees only a metallic blue flash as the male Indigo Bunting zips across your field of vision and then disappears into a nearby tree or bush perhaps looking for his brown dusky mate. Their diet is insects, berries, and seeds and the song is a short chirp.

The male Indigo Bunting during breeding season. It will revert to dusky brown when it returns to Mexico and Central America during the winter.
The female Indigo stays brown year round.

Our next blue bird is the classic one so familiar in Georgia if you put your birdhouse in the open on top of a fence. Technically, it is the Eastern Bluebird and the striking combination of blue and orange is unmistakable.

The Eastern Bluebird is a common visitor in North Georgia.
Eastern Bluebird
The female Eastern Bluebird is less brilliant than the male.

The Eastern Bluebird loves insects and will quickly eradicate harmful bugs from your garden

Or last bluebird is often mistaken for the previous two but is larger and typically feeds on the ground looking for worms or insects or seeds. It is the Blue Grosbeak and what a large beak (and head!) it has.

Not only the large head and beak but the brown shoulder chevrons are key identifiers of the Blue Grosbeak.
The female Blue Grosbeak is brown but the head gives her away!

Blue Grosbeaks winter in Central America and I wonder if they visit with Buntings and Bluebirds and decide how best to confuse the novice birdwatcher. As you can see, if you take a good look the three blue birds are really different but when all you can see is a flash of blue, they may be hard to distinguish.

Now if the blue bird is accompanied by a clash of drums, a pick of a banjo, or the twang of a country music singer, perhaps the Bluebird Cafe is your venue and not your backyard!

A night at the Bluebird!

2 thoughts on “Singin’ the Blues!

  1. Another great article!! Thanks for the sight seeing tips too 😁

    Like

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