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What Is the State Bird of New York?

By Sonal Panse
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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The eastern bluebird, known scientifically as Sialia sialis, has been the state bird of New York since Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed the legislation in this regard on 18 May 1970. It is also the state bird of Missouri. Legal residents of a state can start a petition for selecting state animals and other state symbols, and, prior to the bluebird, the robin red breast had been the choice for the state bird of New York. The most vociferous champion for the bluebird was the President of the New York Federated Women's Clubs, Mrs. Charles Cyrus Marshall.

The eastern bluebird is a small bird, about five and a half inches (13.97cm) in length, with a round head, plump body, short tail and short beak. The male bird has a distinctive red, white and blue coloring, with a blue head, blue back, blue tail, red-orange chest and sides, and white belly and undertail coverts. The female bluebird has a gray head and back, white eye ring, red-brown throat, chest and sides, white underbelly and undertail coverts, and dull blue wings and tail. The young birds have a spotted belly and white eye ring.

These birds are commonly seen throughout the United States. They are migratory birds and tend to fly to the Southern States, particularly Florida, in the winter. They generally migrate in November and return by March.

Eastern bluebirds are omnivorous creatures and subside on both insects and fruits. The birds mainly eat insects like beetles, bugs, crickets, and grasshoppers; invertebrates like caterpillars, centipedes, earthworms, snails and spiders; and fruits of the bayberry, blackberry, dogwood, hackberry, hawthorn, honeysuckle, juniper and pokeberry. They like to pick insects from newly plowed fields.

The state bird of New York favors woodlands and orchards that are close to open fields and meadows, and also near water sources like streams, rivers and ponds. The eastern bluebirds make their homes in mainly tree cavities, either existing cavities or ones that they excavate themselves. The male bird selects or makes the hole, filling it with grass, twigs and other nesting materials, and then preens himself around it to attract a female. The female then build the nest and lays about four to six pale blue eggs.

The parents will take turns in incubating the eggs; for instance, the male will incubate the first set and the female the second, while both parents will feed the chicks. The population of the eastern bluebird declined in the 1950s, but has been on the rise again since its selection as the state bird of New York.

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Discussion Comments
By kylee07drg — On May 05, 2012

I think that bluebird eggs are so pretty. They are a gorgeous pastel blue with a hint of green, and they make me think of Easter eggs.

Since they are not the only birds that lay this color of eggs, I have mistaken the nests of other birds for bluebird nests before. I once had a bird nest appear in a huge container where I was growing flowers, and because the eggs were this color, I just assumed it was a bluebird. I was surprised when I saw a robin return to the nest instead.

My friend who is really into birds told me that the way to tell if a nest does not belong to a bluebird is by its location. If it is somewhere other than a cavity, then it is probably not a bluebird nest.

By Oceana — On May 04, 2012

I have some of the biggest, sweetest blackberries I've ever tasted growing along the fence that surrounds my property. I have caught bluebirds picking the berries on more than one occasion.

Since I have so many bushes, I don't mind. It would probably become a problem if I only had one or two, though.

Also, my dad has a patch of land in his yard that he plows every spring before planting vegetables. We have seen a lot of bluebirds out there in the loose dirt, picking for earthworms or whatever else might have popped out of the ground.

By seag47 — On May 04, 2012

@shell4life – I know! Male bluebirds are so beautiful, and would much rather see one of those in my yard than a female bluebird.

I have birdhouses for them to live in, so I often see the extremely bright blue feathers of the male. His mate is much more understated, and she isn't as easily recognizable as a bluebird.

When he flies through my yard, he creates a flash of blue that rivals my brightest flowers. When I see a female bluebird, I can't even tell that's what she is unless she is entering the birdhouse.

By shell4life — On May 03, 2012

New York's state bird sounds like a good homemaker! That's pretty cool that he will go ahead and gather the nesting material for his prospective lady.

That's kind of like a man offering a female a new house, and all she has to do is furnish it. Many women love to handle the interior decorating anyway, so this works out!

I think it is strange that with birds, it is often the male of the species who is naturally more attractive. He has to be pretty and flashy in order to attract a mate, and the roles are so reversed with humans.

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