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.