I was startled to see a male mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides) at a bayside park in Palo Alto, CA. Surprised, because it is called a mountain bluebird and not a coastal bay bluebird. And because I’d only seen them before in real mountains at high elevations, (specifically, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado) where, you would guess, they belong. Apparently, it is not common to see them here but also not unheard of.

This male was alone. No other bluebirds, male or female. Unlike the Eastern and Western bluebirds, these male birds are totally blue, the hues ranging from the soft blue of morning light, to the deep blue of a bright cold autumn sky, to the color of a glacial pool, or shallow Caribbean waters. Sometimes turquoise, sometime ultramarine. Or is it cerulean and cobalt? Depending on the light, it could be any one of these. These bluebirds are like precious gems that can fly. Is this the original bluebird of happiness?

Shortly after I arrived at Cooley Landing Park, a young man saw me carting my camera and big lens and asked, with excitement, if I was looking for the mountain bluebird. I hadn’t known it was there so I stammered, “What? Uh, no . . . but yes, yes! Show me!” He pointed to a viewing platform over the marsh and said the bird was showing up there. I thanked him and hurried in that direction. I had never actually walked to that platform before. Soon another man, also with big lenses, was behind me hustling down the trail.

I guess like many of us, the mountain bluebirds like to leave colder climes for a while and relax in milder weather. The mountain bluebird has been immortalized in the logo of Twitter.


A fragment of sky
Fell to earth, grew wings, became
A mountain bluebird

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