While on my recent trip to southern Utah’s Wayne County I was able to photograph a few Mountain Bluebirds including a female up close but in poor light and this male perched on a branch on the ground. In the bright light this male seemed to glow compared to the earthy tones of the high desert habitat.
This is a juvenile Mountain Bluebird I photographed in July of 2013 in the Centennial Valley of Montana. This juvenile probably fledged a few weeks before I photographed perched on a wire fence early in the morning.
This immature bluebird is in its juvenal plumage stage. At this age the males and females look similar but the wings of the females would appear duller or slightly greenish so it is my guess that this juvenile is a young male.
Two months later, in September, in the same area of the Centennial Valley I was able to photograph a juvenile male Mountain Bluebird molting into basic plumage, or Basic 1 plumage. I kind of like this calico look!
The juvenile bluebird still shows some of the juvenal plumage and by winter it should have completed the molting process. Before then though it would have migrated south for the winter.
Female Mountain Bluebirds are much duller more gray with hints of blue on the back, tail and wings. This female was photographed in May of last year in the Targhee National Forest of Idaho at a natural nesting cavity. There was a Northern Flicker also attempting to nest in this cavity.
This male is the mate of the female show in the image above at the same nesting cavity and shows the sky blue colors I am so familiar with seeing in male Mountain Bluebirds. Both the male and female are in what is called Definitive Basic plumage, or adult plumage. Unfortunately this tree was chopped down so the bluebirds, wrens, flickers, swallows, nuthatches and sapsuckers who could have nested there had to find new nesting locations.
These images from different times of the year show Mountain Bluebird plumage development stages from not long after fledging to adulthood. Each and every time I am in the field photographing birds I seem to learn something new or fascinating.
Life is good.
P.S., I don’t have my D810 back yet, it is powering up now but there are some calibrations that need to be done before I can pick it up. I had really hope to have it back yesterday.