13 Types of Blue Birds in California

It should come as no surprise that several bird species make their home in the vast state of California.

Many of these species make California their permanent home, while others are seasonal visitors.

In this post, we will examine the 13 species of bluebirds that can be found across California and get some insight into each.

Barn SwallowBarn Swallow
Woodhouse’s Scrub-JayWoodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
Blue GrosbeakBlue Grosbeak
Cliff SwallowCliff Swallow
West BluebirdWest Bluebird
The Belted KingfisherThe Belted Kingfisher
The Pinyon JayThe Pinyon Jay
Purple MartinPurple Martin
Mountains BluebirdMountains Bluebird
The Steller's JayThe Steller's Jay
Tree SwallowTree Swallow
Lazuli BuntingLazuli Bunting
Little Blue HeronLittle Blue Heron

Types of Blue Birds in California

1. Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

During the mating and breeding season, Barn Swallows make up 19% of checklist appearances across California. They may be spotted across the region from March through October.


These little birds have a wide, flat head, a short, thin beak, sharp wings, a short, thick neck, and a curved, forked tail. Both sexes have the same distinctive metallic blue upper parts, reddish brown bellies, and rufous blue heads and necks.

When in flight, the white markings on the tail are the most obvious. When it comes to color, women may be just as daring.

Meadows, pond marshes, the shoreline, and open fields are common places to see these blue birds across California.

The Barn Swallow favors bigger insects over clusters of smaller ones. As a result, they typically capture insects in flight near bodies of water or the ground.

Not often will you see a bluebird at a feeder. However, if you use a platform feeder and put out some oyster shells or eggshells, you could get fortunate. They can better digest certain meals.

The fact that a non-breeding male may occasionally murder young birds inside a nest to separate a Barn Swallow pair is a fascinating tidbit about these birds.

After that, the single male mates with the available female.

A protracted song of warbling tones and mechanical noises is sung by both male and female birds.

2. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

You are most likely to come across these bluebirds in the state of California among juniper and pine forests as well as arid shrublands.

They have a large bird having a long tail and a thick beak in their collection. Both the male and female have a white neck and a top that is light blue and grey in color. Their bellies are also grey.

It has been observed that Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays would perch atop the back sides of mule deer. They do this in order to assist the mule deer, who suffer from ticks and other parasites, by taking them off and devouring them.

The mule deer don’t seem to mind, as shown by the fact that they will remain still and erect their ears to provide a hand.


Sunflower seeds and nuts are the two types of food that should be placed in your garden feeders in order to entice the species in question. And if your backyard has dense shrubbery or even just a few tiny trees, you could even have the good fortune to have a nesting pair right in your own backyard!

Both men and girls sing songs that are approximately five minutes long but are much lighter and more enjoyable.

3. Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

If you put out sunflower seeds in your California backyard, these bluebirds might come to visit. Keep your feeding site near some bushes so the animals will feel more secure. Usually, you’ll notice them whistling before you actually see them.

Grosbeak is quite short and stocky but has a huge, triangular bill.

The males of this species are a deep, rich blue having a little black mask on top of their eyes, chestnut wing bands, and a black and silver beak.

Cinnamon is the most common skin tone among females. Their tails have a blue tint, while the rest of their bodies are a lighter shade of the same color.

The Blue Grosbeak is notoriously elusive because of its extreme timidity, particularly near people.

Males and females alike have the peculiar habit of flicking their tails to one side for no apparent reason.

Like parrots, Blue Grosbeaks were observed “sidling,” or walking sideways, along tree branches.

4. Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow

These birds like to congregate in huge groups and may be seen in many different environments. They are most often seen along bridges but may also be found in urban areas, grassy areas, and along riverbanks.

They also tend to avoid grassy areas and arid regions.

Little in the way of a head, these birds are spherical in shape and end in a rectangular tail. Black blue on the backs and crowns, dark wings, rust on the faces, an orangey rump, and whitish underparts characterize both sexes.

A white or tan spot on top of an otherwise dark bill. A group of bluebirds across California could really be Cliff Swallows.


Usually, cliffs are where you’ll find mud nests of this species. They used to only nest in caves and hollow trees, but today they also exploit man-made constructions like bridges and flyovers.

Throughout the day, flocks of Cliff Swallows may number more than a thousand strong as they fly from one food source to another in search of a meal.

Their music has a strange, grinding, squeaky quality that makes cliff swallows hard to identify.

It reminds me of the noise made when someone tries to create a balloon animal by twisting and turning the balloon.

5. West Bluebird

Western Bluebird

If you’re looking for bluebirds across California, try looking along the edges of woods or in open areas. Rarely do you see a Western Bluebird in a field or meadow.

These birds avoid urban areas in favor of the forest. Their preferred habitats are open regions with numerous trees that have recently been logged or burnt.

Males have rusty breasts and brilliant blue bodies. A grey stomach with a blue throat. The female version is visually identical but with muted tones.

Habitat & Food

These bluebirds like to feed on insects, hence they often forage near the ground. Typically, you may see them resting precariously on low branches, signs, and wooden poles. The Western Bluebird flies at a very low altitude.

Only in protected nesting areas does this kind of bluebird choose to raise its young. In addition to nuthatches, house wrens, European starlings, swallows, house sparrows, and even other Western Bluebirds, competition is fierce for these coveted nesting sites.

The next time you’re outside, keep your ears out for Western Bluebirds. In the wild, you could hear these birds making a faint call that sounds like “kew” repeated numerous times.

6. Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

The bluebirds in California are stunning, but one species stands out above the others for its unique, modern appearance. You should be able to recognize this bird by its huge, long beak and distinctive high crown feathers despite its little size.

The belted kingfisher is a common sight in many different types of aquatic environments. In both sexes, the long mohawk of feathers above the head and the large bill are signature features.

The females are more colorful and possess a blue-gray and white color scheme than the males. The bellies of females have a rusty hue, too.

The males are a bluish-gray color, with a white streak across the back of the neck and a matching band across the chest.


The Belted Kingfisher lives on or near the shores of bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and ponds. They dive from this vantage point into the water below in search of fish, which they use as a source of food.

Instead of singing, these birds make mechanical rattles as cries, and they use them for everything. They have also been considered to shriek in terror.

7. Pinyon Jay

The Pinyon Jay

One of the noisiest California bluebirds is the Pinyon Jay.


Pinyon-juniper forests, sagebrush, and pine forests are common habitats for these crestless jays. Pinyon-pine seeds make up the bulk of this omnivore’s diet, although snakes, lizards, and small mammals are also fair game.

The Pinyon Jay is able to form big flocks of up to 500 individuals who remain together throughout the year to mate and feed.

These migratory birds may pay a brief visit to your bird feeders in search of a snack of broken corn, suet, sunflower seeds,  or peanuts. To communicate, Pinyon Jays use a wide range of sounds. Some resemble corvids.

8. Purple Martin

Purple Martin

The habitat requirements of this bird are rather loose, and they may be satisfied by any open area that is also close to a body of water.

They are bigger than the average swallow and may be identified by their slightly hooked beaks, long tapering wings, and small forked tails.

They have dark brownish-black tails and wings and a vivid blueish-purple body for the males. Females are less vibrant than males, with a white abdomen and grey face and breasts.


Purple martins are fast fliers and seek insects as their primary food source all year long. As they hunt, they glide and spin in wide arcs. They have a maximum altitude of 500 feet.

Place a Purple Martin birdhouse in a suitable location during the nesting season to entice these birds. Make sure there’s a guard to keep the eggs safe from harm.

The digestive health of this species is enhanced by their fondness for a diet of shards of eggshells.

Everybody, regardless of gender, enjoys singing. Males sing in a low bubbling warbler, “teee, teee, teee.” female vocalists tend to sing upbeat tunes.

9. Mountains Bluebird

Mountains Bluebird

It’s hard to imagine several more breathtaking sights than coming into contact with these blue birds when out on a mountain hike.

Western Bluebirds may be found in the open plains of California. During the nesting season, Mountain Bluebirds may be seen up to an altitude of 12,500 feet, as their name indicates. Once winter sets in, though, they often migrate to lower altitudes.

The males have stunningly blue plumage all over their bodies, from their heads and backs to their wings. It’s difficult to identify females since they are mostly gray-brown, having blue highlights on their wings and tails.


The predominant food source for highland bluebirds during the winter season is berries. However, during the warmer months, they feed mostly on insects. Contrary to common belief, these bluebirds are skilled acrobats that often catch insects midair.

Female Mountain Bluebirds are only concerned with finding a good nesting spot. She disregards a potential partner’s attractiveness, flying abilities, or singing voice in favor of his nesting hole while making her choice.

10. Steller’s Jay

Steller's Jay

This species of jay spends every season in the Golden State. They are seen in 16% of summertime checklists and 7% of wintertime checklists, albeit they are more often seen during the mating season.

Large songbirds, Steller’s Jays, are distinguished by their prominent black triangular crests. The remainder of their bodies, including their chests, heads, and backs, are blue.


Steller’s Jays are common across California’s evergreen woodlands. The half-blue boldness of these birds means they are regulars in outdoor gathering places like campsites, parklands, and picnic spots.

This jay has a lot of personalities; it’s loud, confident, and a bit of a smarty. Offering peanuts or other big seeds and suet can entice this bird to your garden feeders.

Nests are often attacked by Steller’s Jays. The adults of certain species of birds, such as juncos and nuthatches, have also been attacked and killed by them.

There are cries made by both males and females that feel like the “shaaack, shaaack, shaaack,” “shoooka, shoooka” sounds.

11. Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows prefer breeding and foraging close to water bodies, such as at the edge of a marsh or a meadow. In fact, some members of this species may “shower” by flying over a body of water, skimming their wings over the top, and then flapping the water off.

The beak of these birds is similarly small. The male is distinguished by his greenish-blue top parts, long, pointed black wings, and white underside. The females are darker overall, with browner heads and necks.

Although it is mostly an insectivore, this bluebird enjoys the fruit of the Mayberry bushes that may be found in many suburban gardens.

Tree Swallows may number in the hundreds of thousands during the post-breeding migration and molt. It’s a happy but strident tune that all sexes sing.

12. Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting
Credit – Wikipedia

Most of a Lazuli Bunting’s time is spent searching the ground or low branches of shrubs and trees for insects, including caterpillars, spiders, and beetles.


They often visit bird feeders in residential areas, where they feast on white proso millet, sunflower, and nyjer seeds. The likelihood of seeing one rises if you plant native plants that offer cover for feeding or nesting.

This group of birds is characterized by its short, stocky bodies and conical beaks. The males are bright blue on top, white on the bottom, and rusty brown on the chest.

The wings are spotted, and there is a white spot on the shoulder. Females have a tan underbelly and a greyish-brown top body. There are two tan bands on each wing, and the blueish coloration extends to the tips.

These bluebirds may be seen throughout the Golden State. They are most at home in hilly, bushy areas close to bodies of water.

The male Lazuli species has a rapid, high-pitched song in which they sing the very same tones again and over.

13. Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Bluebirds known as Little Blue Herons may be seen across California’s small marshes.

When hunting, they are patient and will allow their prey to walk by while remaining still for extended periods of time.

Their dagger-like beak is kept pointed downward as they wait for an amphibian, fish, bug, or crab to swim by.

An adult’s neck and head are a deep purple, while the rest of their body is a slate grey. Young herons, still in their first year, seem very different from their parents.

Regardless of the bird’s age, you should be on the lookout for a two-toned beak with a grey base and a black tip.

The appearance of young Little Blue Herons differs drastically from that of mature birds. Because Snowy Egrets are more successful fishers, it is likely that these birds developed white feathers.

As a bonus, white herons’ ability to evade predators may be enhanced by associating with big groups of other herons.

In general, Little Blue Herons are mute, but their warning squeak may be heard from a distance. While breeding in a colony, they can make a variety of yells and croaks.

Check out this article on the Types of Blue Birds in Michigan.


If you’re interested in seeing bluebirds when you’re out birding, California is a great place to visit.

This article will assist you in recognizing the several species of bluebirds that may be found in the state of California.

Grab your camera and go outdoors to get a better look at them.


How many different kinds of birds may be found in the state of California?

Around 450 different kinds of birds may be found in more frequent areas of California, making our state among the most diversified in the nation.

What kind of bird across California has the most vibrant colors?

The Lawrence’s goldfinch, or Carduelis lawrencei, has a striking coloring and may seem like a brilliant patch of golden hue amid the weedy plains and dry, scrubby environments that it loves. The typical occurrence of these birds is in much smaller groups, and their home range spans the whole of central California during the entire year.

How can I tell what kind of bird is visiting my backyard?

Utilizing a well-rounded observation strategy that takes into account aspects like the bird’s behavior, voice, coloration, and field marks are the most effective method for identifying yard birds. You might also find that a field guide is helpful in identifying the backyard birds that are most frequent in your area.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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