Blue-bellied birds are miraculous creatures, and many of them are residents of North America, particularly during breeding seasons.
These various species found in the States display a complexity of blue and turquoise colors. Some, however, can be much harder to identify than others.
In this article, we provide a definitive guide of North American birds with blue bellies.
We narrow down some of the distinct features and habitat preferences that may help you identify that flash of a blue belly, and where you might expect to see one.
Which Birds Have Blue Bellies?
Table of Contents
1. Indigo Bunting
Christopher McPherson, XC601498. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/601498.
Indigo Bunting are small, sparrow-sized North American birds in the Cardinal family, Cardinalidae. They are also known as the Indigo Painted Finch, the Indigo Finch and the Indigo Bird.
Indigo Buntings are remarkable birds, with flakes of indigo pigments scattered across their wings and tails.
They are instantly recognisable by their vibrant blue plumage despite, like most other blue birds, their feathers being actually black in colour.
In fact, microscopic structures that reflect and refract blue light are responsible for providing the bird its jewel-like tint. Females and infant Indigo Buntings, however, often display a lighter brown plumage, particularly in non-breeding seasons.
Indigo Buntings can be easily attracted to your yard, they maintain a diet of small insects in the summer, particularly mealworms, and seeds in the winter.
Feeders with small seeds such as thistle are particularly helpful in attracting this species too.
They typically nest on the ground, in nests constructed from leaves and grasses.
Beyond the garden fence, Indigo Buntings can be spotted along forest edges and rural roads in summer, often heard singing from tall surfaces and poles. They migrate at night, following guidance from the stars.
Buntings are commonly found along the Western-central states of North America – making their way down to Florida.
Non-breeding season sees the bunting heading further south through Texas and Florida towards Mexico and Central America.
In the fall, their blue plumage fades orange – making them that little bit harder to identify. An easy giveaway, however, would be speckles of blue across the bird’s wings or tail.
2. Blue Grosbeak
Richard E. Webster, XC603246. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/603246.
The Blue Grosbeaks are stunning passerine songbirds with bellies bathed in rich blue feathers.
They are stocky birds, typically larger than an Indigo Bunting, with two wide chestnut-brown wing bars.
The deep blue coloured birds are typically adult males, with dense blue bodies and black faces, concealed by a large triangular bill that extends from throat to forehead.
Alternatively, females bare a cinnamon brown, with speckles of blue streaking across the tail and upper parts of the body.
This bird forages on the ground, feeding on insects, snails, seeds and fruit amidst bushes and trees and moist pastures.
They nest in piles of grass and wildlife on the ground and can be spotted along roads, fields and particularly weedy areas.
They are migratory birds, breeding mainly in Southern US states and further south into Northern Mexico.
They can also be spotted, however, along the Eastern coast north of New York, and can be seen as far West as California during summertime.
The Blue Grosbeak also winters in the tropics of Central America and occasionally further along the coasts of South America.
3. Pinyon Jay
Thomas Magarian, XC602303. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/602303.
Similar to the traditional Blue Jay, Pinyon Jays are small, stocky birds with a blue-grey build.
It earns its name from being a cross between the sizes of the North American Blue Jay and the Eurasian Jay.
Their heads are a shaded blue, somewhat darker that the rest of their dusty-blue body.
Identifying a Pinyon Jay is not always easy; however, their short tails, pale throats and sharp bills makes them more distinguishable from other jays.
The birds are notorious for being social, often found in large flocks in open forests of pinyon pine and juniper.
The flock typically forages in trees and on the ground for pine seeds primarily, but also feed on fruit, insects and grain.
Seeds are in fact stored by the Pinyon Jay in their thousands in the fall to devour later in winter and early spring.
The Pinyon Jay is a resident of Montana and Oregon and can also be spotted in more Southern states like California, New Mexico and Arizona. In other instances, too, the Jays reside in North-Western Oklahoma and Texas.
4. Steller’s Jay
Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC612665. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/612665.
The Steller’s Jay are songbirds native to North-Western America, identifiable for their large build, long tail and striking shade of dark blue.
They are closely related to the Blue Jay but differs in their blackish head, crest and throat, and are members of the “Corvidae” family, the same family as crows and ravens.
Across North America, the Steller’s Jay may also be known as Long-crested Jay, Mountain Jay and Pine Jay.
At a distance, it may be difficult to spot a Steller’s Jay, particularly as they are very dark birds, and are often overlooked as a jay due to them lacking the white markings of a typical jay’s underparts. However, their blue tint and markings on the head make them truly remarkable birds.
Similar to the Pinyon Jay, these birds feed primarily on pine seeds and are attracted to backyard bird feeders.
However, the Steller’s Jay will in fact forage on frogs, snakes, insects and eggs too.
The jay is very much a resident of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast of North America, occasionally venturing southwards too towards Central America. However, the winter season may see this bird travel further East.
The jays are notably bold and intelligent, favouring dense forests, campsites and parks in search for food.
They are frequent visitors of backyards and picnic areas too and are commonly spotted in such areas in the summertime and late spring.
5. Purple Martin
Jim Berry, XC573677. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/573677.
The Purple Martin is in fact the largest swallow in North America and is commonly blue-black in colour despite its given name.
The deep blue shade of their bodies, however, causes a glossy purple sheen through the feathers, making them remarkably attractive birds.
The birds prefer to reside, for the most part, in open woodlands and residential areas.
It is possible to easily attract them to your backyard with a Purple Martin bird house, which are commonly placed in yards in Northern America in breeding season.
The swallows are very vocal, and their chirp forms the soundtrack for much of the summertime. In such seasons, the Purple Martin can be found in the Midwest and Eastern states of America.
They typically feed whilst catching insects whilst flying but can also forage on the ground.
Gardeners can assist the Purple Martin with their forages by putting out crushed eggshells as grit for digestion.
In the winter, you can find that Purple Martins fly south towards South America in large flocks.
6. Purple Gallinule
JAYRSON ARAUJO DE OLIVEIRA, XC518752. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/518752.
Purple Gallinules are notable for their vivid colour-palette and chicken-like build of long legs and toes and short, cocked tails.
Adult birds are washed in various magnificent blue plumages, and splashes of greenish wings and purple heads, with contrastingly bright yellow legs and feet.
Residing in Southern US states in dense, marsh growth, and further south towards Central America, these iridescent blue birds are truly a sight to be seen.
They are markedly aquatic birds and are almost always found along the edges of fresh water investigating the vegetation, even during migration.
Well-vegetated ponds and lakes are perfect for their nesting, as well as other man-made environments, to which the birds have become well-accustomed.
They often run along the shorelines and swim through marshes and wetlands and are likely to be found resting on top of floating lily pads.
Purple Gallinules forage on a variety of plant and animal matter, including seeds, insects, snails and other creatures found along the waterside shrubs, such as frogs and fish.
7. Indian Peafowl
Oscar Campbell, XC453354. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/453354.
The Indian Peafowl is undeniably a remarkable blue bird species found in North America with a radiant deep turquoise plumage, and is perhaps one of the most recognised blue-bellied birds on this list.
Despite being native to Southern India, many zoos across America currently play host to these birds.
They also inhabit lowlands and foothills of some localities in Hawaii, as well as warm, southern American states such as Florida.
A peafowl refers to the group formed of the males, peacocks, and the females, peahens. Notably, they are also some of the largest birds that fly.
The Peafowls have stunning turquoise bodies and bright metallic-blue heads.
Their long train of around 200 tail feathers extend 5 feet long and exhibit a phenomenal fan of vibrant blue colours with eyespots dotted on the surface.
The Peafowls are large birds, with some males averaging up to 2.3 meters tall. Most Peafowls are incapable of long flights, due to the imbalance in their bodyweight to wing-span ratio.
They are commonly found nesting on the ground in forests and farmlands, and are prominent omnivores, foraging on plants, seeds, ants and other small insects.
8. Mountain Bluebird
Richard E. Webster, XC351732. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/351732.
The Mountain Bluebird is a small thrush that resides in the mountains of North-Western America.
Notably, it is the state bird of Idaho and Nevada, and these birds are renowned for their brilliant blue-washed frame.
Males have sky-blue bodies, with white underparts and slightly darker wings and tails. Females, however, are greyer in colour with pale blue tinges running through the feathers.
Occasionally, their chests are flashed in an orange-brown tint too.
Mountain Bluebirds hover more than others of their kind, typically feeding on insects they catch whilst flying in open areas.
They typically nest in tree cavities in forest edges and can be attracted to blue-bird houses installed in breeding grounds.
These birds reside in North America all year round, breeding in Southern Alaska down to Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California.
They also spend the winters in and around Oregon and Colorado, in grasslands and open areas.
9. Blue Mockingbird
Manuel Grosselet, XC608406. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/608406.
The Blue Mockingbird is a large thrush of a deep, slate-like blue tint with sharp red eyes and pale navy streaks on its crown.
A species in the family Mimidae, these birds are native of Mexico however they reside in Southeast Arizona and New Mexico through to Texas and California.
Blue Mockingbirds are washed in a blueish tint all over, although they are pale and grey in some shadows, making them slightly harder to identify on occasion.
They are recognizable, however, by their elongated tails, and dark blue streaks across their breasts. The bird favors several habitats, from subtropical or tropical dry forests, humid forests, pine-oak forests, and more.
They are also commonly found at high elevations and are notoriously secretive about their quest for food – which typically involves insects and fallen fruit.
10. Red-Cheeked Cordon-bleu
Andres Angulo , XC468051. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/468051.
Native to Africa, the Red-Cheeked Cordonbleu finches are small passerine birds in the family Estrildidae, and are also found in more recent years residing on the Hawaiian Islands.
Also known as Red-cheeked Blue Waxbill, and the Uganda or Abyssinian Red-cheeked Coronbleu, these small finches are flushed with bright red cheeks and are washed in a flattering bright blue plumage.
They also have distinct yellow-brown legs and feet, and pale brown upperparts.
The Red-Cheeked Cordonbleus mostly feed on seeds, grains and millets. Occasionally, too, they eat beeswax and eggs when the birds are in their infancy.
Their preferred habitats are typically cultivated areas and dry grasslands.
11. Purple Swamphen
Jelle Scharringa, XC605218. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/605218.
Purple Swamphens, also known as Grey-headed Swamphen, are large blue-bellied birds that have only recently begun to inhabit the state of Florida.
They are broad, marsh birds with turquoise plumages and wings and blue-purple bodies. They are often found near wetlands, particularly rivers and swamps, and are identifiable by their long, pink legs and elongated toes.
Both sexes are similar in colour, however the female’s head is slightly bluer that the males, who generally have a greyer finish.
Being relatively aquatic birds, they generally feed on greens, snails, and small fish.
The Purple Swamphen are native of Africa (where they are recognised as ‘African Swamphen’).
Since being introduced to Florida, the birds are now beginning to expand their territories onto other landscapes upwards into North America.
12. Red-legged Honeycreeper
Jacob R. Saucier, XC318969. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/318969.
These small songbirds are native of tropical habitats, often Mexico, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba.
They are, however, vagrant birds that are also rarely spotted in Southern Texas. Their vibrant blue bodies are hard to miss, and they are often found perched in tree crowns in small flocks.
Not only are the vibrancy of their bodies a clear indicator of the species, but their iridescent turquoise heads make them a unique sighting.
13. Red-legged Thrush
Simon Elliott, XC588296. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/588296.
Similar to the Red-legged Honeycreeper, the Red-legged Thrush is another vagrant bird that is sometimes (albeit rarely) spotted in North American states.
They are long distance flyers that descend from the Caribbean island, favouring tropical climates, so sightings are most commonly attributed to southern US states such as Florida.
They are a stunning slate-grey colour overall, with pale blue feathers and black accents on their wings.
The legs are a contrastingly vibrant red, and the tail a stark white colour. A sighting of this blue-bellied bird in North America makes for a truly unique and wonderful experience.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!