Status: No accepted records.
Taxonomy: Six subspecies are recognized (Pyle 1997), three in Mexico and these north of Mexico: occidentalis, breeding from southern British Columbia to south-central Montana and south to southern California and Nevada, wintering to southern New Mexico, bairdii, breeding from central Utah to central Colorado and south to southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico, wintering to south Texas, and jacoti, resident in southeast New Mexico and southwest Texas.
Comments: There are at least seven published reports (Bray et al 1986), none acceptably documented. There are three spring reports. Two in Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff Co 9 May 2002 (Brogie 2003), 11 April 1964 Dawes Co (Gates 1964), and 19-20 May 1972 Cherry Co (Cortelyou 1972). There are four fall reports. One of a group 21-26 Aug 1963 in Webster Co was identified as this species by “the brown patch across the back of one of a group when in flight” (Turner 1964, Pruess 1964). Aughey watched one in Aug feeding along the Niobrara River about seven miles from its mouth in Knox Co (Bruner et al 1904); the same observer reported it as “abundant” in Otoe Co, an observation considered extremely unlikely (Sharpe 1993). A description of two at Wildcat Hills NC, Scotts Bluff Co 25 Oct 2018 was not accepted by NOURC due to insufficient detail (Brogie 2019). There are two other fall reports, neither with details: 5 Oct 1959 Webster Co and 19 Oct 1968 Scotts Bluff Co.
A report of “hundreds” along the Platte River near Benedict, Polk Co in fall 1980 (Williams 1981) almost certainly refers to Eastern Bluebirds. A set of eggs collected by Carriker in Sioux Co (UNSM ZM9280) and ascribed to this species was presumed mislabeled (Ducey 1988). Mollhoff (2022) determined that the collector’s original nest card was labeled arcticus, the name for Mountain Bluebird in use at the time the eggs were collected.
There are four confirmed reports from Kansas 23 Mar and 5 Nov-16 Dec; the authors considered this species over-reported in Kansas (Thompson et al 2011). In Wyoming this species is a “very rare summer resident”, with two acceptable records in the west (Faulkner 2010). South Dakota has two records, in May and Jun (Tallman et al (2002). Andrews and Righter (1992) cited about 12 records on the northeastern Colorado plains in the periods Mar-Apr and Oct-Nov.
It is likely that fall may be the best time to look for this species in the western Panhandle, as the northern subspecies occidentalis breeds in the same area as Cassin’s Vireo and Townsend’s Warbler, both regular fall migrants in western Nebraska. However, this is the “least migratory of the three bluebird species” (Dunn 1981, Guinan et al 2020).
Andrews, R., and R. Righter. 1992. Colorado birds. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado, USA.
Bray, T.E., B.K. Padelford, and W.R. Silcock. 1986. The birds of Nebraska: A critically evaluated list. Published by the authors, Bellevue, Nebraska, USA.
Brogie, M.A. 2003. 2002 (14th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 71: 136-142.
Brogie, M.A. 2019. 2018 (30th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 87: 96-109.
Bruner, L., R.H. Wolcott, and M.H. Swenk. 1904. A preliminary review of the birds of Nebraska, with synopses. Klopp and Bartlett, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Cortelyou, R.G. 1972. The Seventy-first Spring Meeting. NBR 40: 27.
Dunn, J.L. 1981. The identification of female bluebirds. Birding 13: 4-11.
Faulkner, D.W. 2010. Birds of Wyoming. Roberts and Company, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.
Gates, D. 1964. Thirty-ninth Annual Cooperative Spring Migration and Occurrence report. NBR 32: 66-81.
Guinan, J.A., P.A. Gowaty, and E.K. Eltzroth. 2020. Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.wesblu.01.
Mollhoff, W.J. 2022. Nest records of Nebraska birds. Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Occasional Paper Number 9.
Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.
Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Crete, Nebraska, USA.
Sharpe, R.S. 1993. Samuel Aughey’s list of Nebraska birds (1878): a critical evaluation. NBR 61: 3-10.
Tallman, D.A., Swanson, D.L., and J.S. Palmer. 2002. Birds of South Dakota. Midstates/Quality Quick Print, Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA.
Thompson, M.C., C.A. Ely, B. Gress, C. Otte, S.T. Patti, D. Seibel, and E.A. Young. 2011. Birds of Kansas. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.
Turner, H. 1964. 1963 Observations in Webster County. NBR 32: 60-61.
Williams, F. 1981. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 35: 198-201.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2022. Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Birds of Nebraska – Online
Updated 12 Mar 2022