Bluebird and Small Cavity Nester Conservation
Sialis - Bluebirds and other small cavity nesters


Life Span- How long does a bluebird live in the wild?

fledgling EABL by Cherie Layton
A fledgling Eastern Bluebird.
Photo by Cherie Layton.

According to longevity records online with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (last updated 08/2009), the oldest known wild individuals are as follows. The maximum age is calculated based on banding data, and assumes a June hatch date.

  • Eastern Bluebird: 10 years six months - banded in NY on 5/23/1989, found dead in South Carolina on 11/30/1999 (sex not listed)
  • Mountain Bluebird: 9 years, 0 months + - female banded in Alberta after hatching year, trapped alive (and released) during banding operations on 06/06/05 in Alberta
  • Western Bluebird: 8 years and 8 months+, banded after the second year in California on 04/29/2011. The bird was injured when captured in California on 02/21/2008.

How long any bird lives depends on many factors. Genetics, food supply, access to clean water and shelter can affect their health. They may die before reaching their maximum life span as a result of inclement weather (such as the severe winter of 1977-1978), accident, disease or predation. Therefore, some bluebirds may only survive 1 to 2 years. However, it is possible that a bluebird might live 6 to 10 years.

Young birds that have recently left the nest are particularly vulnerable, as their survival skills are less developed than experienced adults. The survival rate of fledgling bluebirds is probably roughly 50% per year. That is, at the end of the first year, 50% of the birds would survive; after two years, 25% would still exist, and, extrapolated to the fifth year, only about 3% of the original group would still be alive.

This underscores the importance of work done by bluebird landlords. If the core population of bluebirds is extremely low, it can take decades or longer to rebuild population levels.

Both male and female bluebirds can begin reproducing the year after they are born. More.

References and More Information:


And when he sings to you, Though you're deep in blue, You will see a ray of light creep through,
And so remember this, life is no abyss, Somewhere there's a bluebird of happiness. Life is sweet, tender and complete, when you find the bluebird of happiness.

- Bluebird of Happiness, lyrics by Edward Heyman & Harry Parr Davies, 1934

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May all your blues be birds!

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