The Western Bluebird you see inside the Animal Room’s Small Bird Aviary is originally from Santa Barbara. It suffered a broken clavicle and is now unable to sustain flight.
The Western Bluebird is a common resident of open grasslands, ranches and agricultural areas throughout much of California. It is often seen sitting perched on barbed wire fences then sallying down to the ground to capture insect prey. Sallying is a term used by ornithologists to describe the bluebird’s hunting technique of flying out suddenly from a standing/perching position to capture prey. Bluebirds are prized by farmers and ranchers as a natural form of pest control.
Western Bluebird populations have suffered declines in many areas from competition for nesting cavities with introduced European Starlings and House Sparrows and possibly due to insecticide. Efforts to bring them back include installation of nesting boxes.
Western Bluebirds disappeared from San Francisco as a nesting species in the mid 1930s. In 2004, the first San Francisco bluebird nest in almost 70 years was discovered in a tree cavity in the Presidio. Since then, they have increased in numbers and it is believed that as many as a dozen pairs in the Presidio and Lincoln Park call the City their home.