Bluebirds are some of the prettiest birds across the United States! These amazing animals have such beautiful colorations that they can almost seem fake when they fly by. There are three species of bluebird in the US, including the western, eastern, and mountain bluebird. Although they are all related, they are still classified as distinct. Today, we are going to compare the Western Bluebird vs Eastern Bluebird and see what makes them unique! Let’s get started.
Comparing a Western Bluebird and an Eastern Bluebird
|Western bluebird||Eastern bluebird|
|Appearance||Blue or blue-gray body with a blue or gray throat and chin. Orange and cream bellies.||Blue or blue-gray body with an orange or white throat and chin. Orange breast and cream bellies.|
|Distribution||As far north as Washington and Canada with a southerly range in central Mexico. As far east as Texas.||Most of the United States east of the Mississippi. Western range as far as Texas.|
|Habitat||Forests, farmlands, and deserts.||Woodlands, forests, and suburban settings.|
|Subspecies||Six distinct subspecies.||Seven distinct subspecies.|
The 4 main differences between a Western Bluebird and an Eastern Bluebird
The main differences between western and eastern bluebirds are that western bluebirds live in the western US and have blue chins and necks, while eastern bluebirds live in the eastern US and have orange chins and necks.
Whether you are a hobbyist bird watcher or just happen to see one by chance, witnessing a vibrant bluebird in the sun is an experience that anyone can appreciate. These small birds live all over the United States and are separated into three primary species: the easter, western, and mountain bluebird. The eastern and western are the most similar to one another and can be tough to tell apart. Thankfully, there are a few tricks.
Both bluebirds are blue (with females being blue-gray) and have orange and cream across their bellies and breast. The best way to tell the difference between the western and eastern birds is to look at their necks. Western bluebirds have a blue or blue-gray chin and neck, while eastern bluebirds have an orange or cream chin and neck.
Additionally, the western bluebird is found in the western half of the country, while the eastern bluebird is found in the eastern half.
Let’s take a look at these birds in some more detail.
Western Bluebird vs Eastern Bluebird: Appearance
The western bluebirds are a vibrant blue (males) or a dull gray-blue (female). Their breasts are orange and cream, and their bellies are usually cream. They have a blue neck and chin, whereas the eastern bluebird does not.
The eastern bluebird is a vibrant blue (males) or a dull gray-blue (female), just like the western bluebird. Additionally, their breasts and bellies are orange and cream. The main difference is that eastern bluebirds’ breast colors, usually orange, extend to their chin and neck.
Western Bluebird vs Eastern Bluebird: Distribution
As their name suggests, the western bluebird can be found in the western half of the United States. Their most northern range extends into Canada, and their southern range extends into central Mexico. They can be found as far west as the Pacific Ocean and as far as the tip of the Texas “boot,” around the Trans-Pecos region.
The eastern bluebird can be found in the eastern half of the United States. Their northern range extends into Canada, and their southern range extends into Florida. They can be found as far east as the Atlantic Ocean and as far west as Texas.
Western Bluebird vs Eastern Bluebird: Habitat
The eastern bluebird is variable in its habitat. It is found in all types of woodlands, fields, farmlands, and suburbs.
The western bluebird prefers forested habitats, but deforestation has caused it to adapt. It can be found in forests, farmlands, prairies, and even deserts.
Western Bluebird vs Eastern Bluebird: Subspecies
There are six subspecies of western bluebird:
- S. m. occidentalis – southwest Canada to north Baja California (northwest Mexico)
- S. m. bairdi – interior west USA to Sonora and Chihuahua (northwest Mexico)
- S. m. jacoti – south central USA and northeast Mexico
- S. m. amabilis – northcentral Mexico
- S. m. nelsoni – central Mexico
- S. m. mexicana – south central Mexico
There are seven subspecies of eastern bluebird:
- S. s. sialis – south, southeast Canada, east, central USA and northeast Mexico
- S. s. bermudensis – Bermuda
- S. s. nidificans – east-central Mexico
- S. s. fulva – southwest USA to central Mexico
- S. s. guatemalae – southeast Mexico and Guatemala
- S. s. meridionalis – El Salvador, Honduras and north Nicaragua
- S. s. caribaea – east Honduras and northeast Nicaragua
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com
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