Appalachia Music

Gonna Find Me A Bluebird


Charles Fletcher, talented Appalachian writer, recently shared some interesting Bluebird information with me, and I thought you might enjoy it too. For many years Charles placed Bluebird boxes throughout Bradley County Tennessee and kept track of the bluebirds that lived in them.


Bluebirds written by Charles Fletcher

There are three classification of bluebirds: Eastern, Mountain, and Western. The following information is for the Eastern Bluebird. Their range is east of the Rocky Mountains, up the Atlantic coast into Canada. It is the state bird of Missouri and New York.

They are approximately 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long with a wing spread of 11 1/2 to 13 1/4 inches. The male is bright blue above breast sides, with flanks reddish brown, the breast and underside is white, and the eyes are dark brown. The female is not as bright colored as the male.

The bluebird has a hunched appearance when perched. They live in open country, farms, cut-over woods, gardens, parks, fields, orchards and roadsides. They have serious competition for nesting holes from starlings, house sparrows, wrens and other small birds. Many remain on nesting grounds in winter. Those that go south tell people that winter is over when they return to their nesting grounds.

The Eastern Bluebird feeds on insects mostly. They eat grassshoppers, crickets, katydids, beetles, spiders, sow bugs, snails and earth worms. They also eat black berries, poke berries, wild grapes, and seed from many plants.

The nest is built mostly by the female in a natural tree cavity, old woodpecker holes, holes in stumps, rail fences, and bird boxes that are three foot or more above ground. The nest is made from dried grasses, pine needles, weed stems, fine twigs, lined with fine grasses, hairs and feathers.

The eggs are laid usually in March thru July. Three to seven eggs, but usually 4 to 5. The eggs are pale blue and sometimes white. The female does most of the setting but gets some help from the male. The eggs hatch in 13 to 16 days. The young are ready to fly 15 to 20 days after hatching. Usually there are two broods, sometimes three. The baby birds are fed solely on insects. The adults eat about 70% insects, 30% berries. The life span of bluebirds is 4 to 5 years. They fly at approximately 15 miles per hour.

In recent years the population has dropped considerably as a result of the use of pesticides and fungicides in agriculture, building of highways, subdivisions and over cutting of trees that destroys their natural nesting grounds. By providing nesting boxes we give them a chance to multiply and not become extinct.

Did you know that the only places in the world where bluebirds can be found are in North American and Bermuda? More songs and poems have been written about the bluebird than any other bird. It is associated with spring, love, and joy. It is a symbol commemorating marriages and anniversaries. It is a special messenger for contentment and health.


I hope you enjoyed the fascinating information Charles shared as much as I did. He’s right about bluebird songs. Here’s Pap and Paul singing one.

Hope you enjoyed the song!


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  • Reply
    Jim Gorichanaz
    April 29, 2021 at 9:04 pm

    Wonderful job on the Marvin Rainwster classic song!
    He was a great entertainer and a good friend of mine.
    God bless you all!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Very late to this, but wanted to say that I’m partly with b. Ruth on the mockingbirds. We have a bluebird box that Daddy put up on the fence out from the kitchen window. Bluebirds have made their home there for many years. This year, for the first time that I know of, a d*#)! mockingbird has declared this his turf. It is not because of a nearby nest – it is because I planted blueberries along the fence which the d*#)! mockingbird has decided are his. Next year they’ll be covered with screens, and if Mr. d*#)! mockingbird persists in running off the bluebirds, then (and this is where I’m not with b. Ruth) I will disregard the advice of Atticus Finch and Gregory Peck.
    Loved Charles’ story. The song – which I’d never heard before – was superb, as expected.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I don’t know anything about Blue-
    birds, but I use to have a homeade
    feeder. There ain’t no telling at
    the bags of sunflower seeds I’ve
    bought. Then one day the Bluejays
    started gathering and enjoying all
    them seeds. They ran off all the
    other birds, had 15 lined up all
    at one time. Those things can whip
    a crow or hawk!
    I enjoyed all the information
    Charles shared, love his writings.
    And Paul and Pap really did a good
    job on the bluebird song…Ken

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I do believe I’ve seen a few around here. Wouldn’t you love to have some beads that color blue.
    What we do have in abundance around here are finches which have woven a HUGE circular communal nest about 3 feet across in one of the pine trees in our yard. They’ve been there for years, and we noticed this year, some of them are building another nest off of another branch in the same pine trees – we’re thinking the main nest got too full and this is an annex being built by some of their offspring perhaps.
    When Bro was working in the yard last week, he saw a pair of birds he didn’t recognize making a nest in another tree across the yard. The female was busy warping and weaving the items the male would bring her. Well, while Bro was watching, the male brought her a small length of plastic that looked like it might have been the strip from cigarette pack. He said the female took it, threw it down on the ground, and proceeded to fuss out the male bird for bringing her that garbage. It was so funny! He claims he’s even seen that female bird carrying on with another male when the first male is out looking for nest offerings. What a fussy cheeky little bird!!! ROFLOL
    We’ve found bird’s nests that had pieces of threads that we recognized the color or pattern as coming from one of our towels or a throw rug that we hang on the line to dry after washing. Very interesting!!!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    We have a pair of bluebirds around the house here. They nested in one of my houses. I loved watching every time they went into and out of the house. Now they seem to be living in one of the trees in front of the house. We watch them fly to and fro. I have always been fascinated by their beauty. Thanks for the information.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Love the bluebird story and especially the bluebird song!

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I’ve lived in Ocala 40 years but never saw a bluebird until we built our home in a mini-farm subdivision 11 years ago. We have 4-1/2 acres, open fields and wooded. We have 3 bluebird boxes in one of the open fields and have bluebirds all year long. Our neighborhood is blessed with many bluebirds. I walk every morning and am greeted with the sounds of “pure, pure, pure” and they fly from fence to fence as I walk along.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 7, 2013 at 11:44 am

    We have Bluebirds as well. I just love them. I love their sweet call in the Spring when nesting starts. If they are not already paired they pair up around here toward the end of February, and begin to visit various houses along the fence row in the front of the pasture.
    One Spring was on it’s way and Winter would not leave. A nesting pair of Bluebirds had already staked out their house and was trying to keep Chickadees etc. away from their intended rental.
    It turned really cold, the ground freezing again and me worrying about the little guy and gal and if eggs were on there way to being produced…I got a old tuna can, went all the way to town, bought some live meal worms at a pet store. Came back home, nailed that can to the top of their house, and filled it with live meal worms, that quickly went dorment in the cold. Not before the Bluebirds found them. Yes, it was expensive, but we started having more Bluebirds after that year. I like to think that I helped! But, maybe the news spread and “the free meal sign” got “tweeted” around! I only feed them the supplement a few days until the sun broke thru the little skiff of snow and cold!
    The worst problem we have, is our Tennessee State bird the Mockingbird that cannot stand any bird in his area when starting his territorial songs…to the point I want to pop a limb around him with a BB gun to scare him away from the Bluebird houses! Not!
    I love Charles Fletcher’s words about the Bluebirds…He is my kind of person..It just makes you want to cry at the beauty of the Bluebird in the picture. Sometimes it is hard to imagine what Heaven will be like if these birds are so beautiful on earth!
    Pap and Pauls rendition of “Gonna find me a Bluebird” was beautiful as well. I haven’t heard that tune in so long and it was so refreshing on a cool rainy morning.
    I think I’ll go outside and listen for the Bluebirds. I usually hear them before I see them!
    Thanks Tipper and gang and especially on today Charles and the Bluebird!
    PS….To the one about the Indigo Buntings…we haven’t had many this year…they usually feed at a feeder that I put away from the rest as they are shy birds..The flash of blue when they fly into a thicket will take your breath away!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

    love, love, Paul & Pap’s version of one of my favorite songs!!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Tipper–We’ve had bluebirds nest in a box Daddy built for at least 20 straight years. It is attached to a post supporting a row of scuppernong vines and we can watch the nesting birds out the kitchen window when we are eating. It’s a pure joy. Also, when I look at that box Daddy built, complete with a tin roof (reckon bluebirds enjoy rain on a tin roof the way we humans do?), it always uplifts my spirits a bit.
    The fact that it has lasted so long speaks to Daddy’s craftsmanship, and it even has a removable back so that I can take the nest out each year and ready it for the next round.
    So blue watching blue birds may make be a bit blue, remembering one who has gone, but that is more than offset with uplifted spirits, scenes of beauty, and beautiful memories.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Mary Rutherford
    July 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I created a little bluebird trail here in my little habitat I call “The Near Woods”. I feed them meal worms and they fly in when I whistle – I love those sweet birds! My favorite bluebird song is one written by Jean Ritchie for her boys when they were little. It is based on an old rhyme her mother taught her. I got to hear her sing it in person years and years ago at the folk school. I found a link to it on youtube and love the little video with her singing and the pictures of Ritchie family corn shuck dolls. It might be one your girls would like to sing:

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    July 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Tipper: What a delightful post and performance by the fellows! We have a BLUEBIRD House in our backyard and the Blue Birds nest there but we have never seen the little birds. This Spring I actually saw the mother Blue Bird chase away a Cat Bird. But their house is located right in the path of ALL our birds passing through our backyard. NOT SMART on our part.
    I would like ADVICE from Mr. Fletcher on how to design a more attractive setting for MORE BLUEBIRDS in my backyard (Oak Ridge)!
    Last Summer on the grounds of the Country Club – five minutes from out house – I saw a dozen Blue Birds fluttering around in the giant Pine trees. Those trees and that setting must be a special environment for them. Or perhaps they just like to watch the Golfers play!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I enjoyed Mr. Fletcher’s essay about the bluebird and also enjoyed Pap and Paul’s playing and singing of “Gonna Find Me a Bluebird”! Thanks for sharing both. I remembered a poem entitled “The Blue Bird,” written by John Burroughs, a twentieth century naturalist, conservationist, writer of poems and essays, and a companion to President Theodore Roosevelt. His poem is too long to include all of it here, but here are two stanzas of it to show how he, too, loved bluebirds. This poem in its entirety can be accessed online if anyone is interested in reading it all. Burroughs was born and reared near the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, so had a different mountain upbringing that we in Southern Appalachia, but nonetheless enjoyed his environment:
    This poem was published first in the June, 1903 issue of Harper’s Magazine:
    The Bluebird
    John Burroughs
    A wistful note from out the sky,
    “Pure, pure, pure,” in plaintive tone
    As if the wand’rer were alone
    And hardly knew to sing or cry.
    O bluebird, welcome back again,
    Thy azure coat and ruddy vest
    Are hues that April loveth best–
    Warm skies above the furrowed plain.”
    Now I’m sure we will all be watching for more bluebirds, putting out birdboxes for them to build their nests, and listening for their clear song, “Pure, pure, pure.” A bluebird is a symbol of love, happiness and contentment. Let’s keep them coming!

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    July 7, 2013 at 9:29 am

    love bluebirds around hete. we have a couple of pairs that nest in our houses each year. really like the video and excellent picking.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

    We have the most beautiful blue birds around here. I think they are called Indigo Bunting. Since we tore the old fence post down, we don’t see as many. I wonder if they fall into either of the three classifications of blue birds Charles mentioned above.
    Thanks for sharing the interesting information. Charles is a very talented writer that doesn’t give himself nearly as much credit as he deserves.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    July 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

    We do have bluebirds, and they’re a delight. When we first moved out here about 14 years ago, I’d never seen a bluebird up close and personal, even though it is our state bird.
    When my husband mows with the big tractor, they follow behind, diving around him and eating insects.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 7, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I saw a little blue bird yesterday. It must have been a hummingbird because of the sound of its wings and because it was carrying a humbrella.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    July 7, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I love bluebirds but cannot recall seeing one for some years. Mr. Fletcher gave such interesting info that I wanted to get a bluebird box, but must refrain for my neighborhood sadly wouldn’t provide an ideal home for them. ‘Gonna Find Me a Bluebird’ was a sweet sound for my morning.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    July 7, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I’ve kept a couple of blue bird nesting boxes in my yard for the past 13 years. They come back, or are newly introduced every year, both because the placement near a vegetable garden supplies them with) an abundance of food, because the boxes are specially designed for blue bird entry and exit and because I put a stove-pope critter guard around the post to keep out snakes, coons and others who would dine on their chicks. I encourage anyone with a mostly open field near woodland to put up a box or two (they’ll usually need at least a half acre a family. They are a sure harbinger or spring’s arrival and a constant reminder of the color of life.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 7, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I have a friend who used to make Blue Bird Boxes. He had several in his yard and he gave them to anyone who would hang them. Like Charles he had a special love for the pretty little Blue Birds.
    Thank you, Charles, for sharing with us again and for caring about the Blue Birds.

  • Reply
    Tom Ball
    July 7, 2013 at 7:09 am

    They don’t seem that long, but then I never measured one with a ruler. You can hear the bluebird’s song here:

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I think the little bluebirds are so beautiful. Love to watch them. Enjoyed listening to Pap & Paul sing about them.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2013 at 5:43 am

    We have a little white house near our front porch in which each year Bluebirds build. It has been placed there so I can see them from the bedroom window. It seems that each year Momma and Daddy (birds) will come and tell the babies, “Okay, kids it’s time to fly.” Then it’s bittersweet for my wife and I when they gather their courage and fly away. We have been lucky enough several times to see all this take place from the window.
    Thanks for such a nice way to start this Sunday Tipper! The story by Mr fletcher, the song by Paul and Pap, and best of all that picture of the little Bluebird! Just what I needed!

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