Blue Birds in Illinois

15 Beautiful Blue Birds in Illinois

Illinois city belongs in the Midwestern United States. This city or state is densely populated with its farmlands cultivation, forests, hills, and wetlands, which makes this city a suitable place for bird species, especially the bluebirds.

In this article, I am going to provide the top 15 beautiful bluebirds in Illinois state, including their physical characteristics, geographic distribution, habitats, food habits, behavior, and other facts about them.

So, let’s explore the diversity of bluebirds in Illinois.

15 Beautiful Blue Birds in Illinois

Illinois, the city of birds, holds diverse collections of avian species. If you travel to Illinois city, you might have a chance to see these beautiful blue birds around you that will make you wonder about these bluebirds.

In this section, I will discuss the top 15 blue birds along with their individual descriptions and their regional surroundings, habitats, food, and other facts about them.

1.  Eastern Bluebird 

Eastern Bluebird 
  • Scientific name: Sialia sialis 
  • Lifespan: 6 to 10 years
  • Wingspan: 9.8 to 12.6 cm
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: 16 to 21 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, invertebrates, fruits, berries, beetles, earthworms etc.

Eastern bluebirds are small blue birds in Illinois which are mostly local birds in North America including Canada, Gulf states and Arizona.

These Illinois birds’ upper bodies are bright blue with orange breasts and their bellies are slightly white. You may see this beautiful species in open areas, frequently burned pine savannas, and open woods areas.

Eastern bluebirds are very social birds and  prefer to stay in large flocks of hundreds of birds. They also protect their territories throughout their breeding season.

After breeding seasons, both male and female eastern bluebirds raise their young and take care of their young together by sharing their responsibilities.

However, female birds in Illinois build nests within 10 days and incubate their eggs for about 13 to 16 days. The young leave their nests within 15 to 20 days after hatching.

2. Indigo Bunting 

Indigo Bunting 
  • Scientific name: Passerina cyanea 
  • Lifespan: around 2 to 3 years 
  • Wingspan: 18 to 23 cm
  • Native to: Canada, Florida, South America 
  • Size: 11 to 15 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, berries, caterpillars,  spiders, grasshoppers etc 

Indigo Buntings are another small blue and brown bird plumage in Illinois state. Apart from Illinois, you can also spot these beautiful birds in Southern Canada, Florida, South America, and Mexico.

During their breeding season, these bunting birds are mostly partial to Southern Canada, Florida, Texas, and Nevada. However, in the winter season, you can find them in Southern Florida, central Mexico, West Indies, Central America, to South America.

Because these blue birds migrate to those regions during winter, besides, Indigo birds tend to inhabit open forests, woodlands, and farmlands.

These birds only prefer to travel or migrate during the night. With the help of the stars, they navigate their location. You might find these Indigo birds by communicating through their vocalization.

They use high pitched sounds or buzzing sounds to mark their territory and also attract their mates during breeding seasons. 

3. Blue Jay 

Blue Jay 
  • Scientific name:  Cyanocitta cristata 
  • Lifespan:  average 7 years 
  • Wingspan : 13 to 17 inches 
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: 22 to 30 cm
  • Food or Diet: corn, grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects

Blue Jay birds are another bluebird that is highly distributed in Illinois. These birds are related to the Corvidae family of passerine bird species.

You can recognize these birds by their blue feathered body with a black pattern on the wings and tails. They have black chains around their neck and white faces with white breasts.

Not only in Illinois, their territory covers North America, including southern Canada, the United States, Florida, and Texas. They are fond of arid pine forests and scrub areas for their habitats.

So, if you visit those places, you might have a good chance to see these blue birds personally. However, remember that these species are mostly noisy and aggressive birds while protecting their nests and territories.

So, you need to be careful and take precautions so as not to break their territories. If they see any predators or intruders, they will start screaming to divert their attention from them, and sometimes, they may attack the intruders.

Their mating season starts around mid-March and April. They usually build their nests 10 to 33 feet above the ground. They are also very choosy while selecting their nesting sites; they mostly prefer rural or heavily deforested areas.

4. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Scientific name: Sitta Canadensis 
  • Lifespan: around 6 years
  • Wingspan: 8.5 inches /  22 cm
  • Native to: Canada, Alaska, Northeastern and western United States 
  • Size: 11 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, flies, seeds, berries, peanut butter, etc.

Red-breasted nuthatches are small songbirds with high-pitched nasal birds in Illinois state. These birds are also very common in Alaska, Canada,  and the Western United States.

They choose conifer forests in northern areas where they permanently reside for the whole year. For their appearances, their upper parts and tails are bluish with red breasts.

Moreover, these birds have black caps with a white line around the eyes. You will be amazed that these birds have some peculiar courtship behavior.

During their breeding seasons, males try to attract female birds by performing peculiar display performances such as lifting their heads and tails, turning their backs to the female birds, and gliding and swaying from side to side.

They are half-migratory birds as they stay within their region almost all year, and few birds migrate to the South in winter.

Mostly female birds lay 2 to 8 eggs, usually 5 to 6 white eggs, and incubate for 12 to 13 days. Young leave their nests after 2 to 3 weeks.

5. White Breasted Nuthatch

White Breasted Nuthatch
  • Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis 
  • Lifespan: around 2 years
  • Wingspan : 20 to 27 cm
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: about 15.5 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, nuts, seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.

White-breasted nuthatches are small to medium-sized blue birds that are widely distributed across North America, including Florida, Mexico, Canada, and Illinois state.

If you look closely, you will find that these white-breasted nuthatch birds have large heads, short wings, very strong beaks, and strong legs.

Their wings are pale gray plumage and have white wing bars. Besides, their upper body parts are fully white with a little reddish brown feathers in the lower abdomen parts. These birds are highly recommended in woodlands, open areas, and savanna lands for their nesting and habitats.

They are basically nonmigratory birds, which means they do not travel long distances during breeding or migration seasons.

These birds are more likely to stay in one region and like to defend their territory from their birds and intruders.

They stay in large flocks which helps them to avoid direct eye contact with predators.  They usually make their nests around 3 to 12 meters high in a tree where the female birds lay 5 to 9 ceramic white eggs.

6. Tree Swallow 

Tree Swallow
  • Scientific name: Tachycineta 3
  • Lifespan: about 2.7 years
  • Wingspan: 30 to 35 cm
  • Native to: America 
  • Size: 12 to 14 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, mollusks, spiders, fruits, flies, etc.

Tree Swallow birds are other small migratory birds that are very common in Illinois. Apart from this state, they are also very familiar in most of America, including North America, New Mexico, California, Central Alaska, and Canada.

However, their specific breeding region is North America, and later, they migrate to Canada and Alaska. So, if you visit North America during their breeding seasons, you may capture these birds to inhabit open places and wooded areas, which are especially near watery places.

These Illinois bluebirds build their nests in pre-made holes or cavities in a tree or in artificially structured nests. These Illinois tree swallow birds can fly around 160 feet above the ground and have the ability to glide and flap in the sky, which makes their flight effortless.

Although their average life span is about 2.7 years, one bird can survive up to 12 years.

7. Common Grackle

Common Grackle
  • Scientific name:  Quiscalus quiscula 
  • Lifespan: around 17 years
  • Wingspan: 36 to 46 cm
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: 28 to 34 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, beetles, grubs, caterpillars, grasshoppers,  spiders, crayfish etc.

Common grackles are large blue birds that you might observe or encounter in Illinois. These birds are also widely ranging in North America, including Illinois. 

These Illinois birds’ heads and necks are deep blues, their wings are dark brownish with black beaks, and they have pale yellowish-white earrings. These birds prefer open areas, semi-open areas, dense trees, shrubs,  and watery places for their nesting and habitats.

Besides, they build or construct their nests in tree cavities or in man-made structures. You can also spot them migrating to the Southwestern United States in large flocks. Although they can sing, their voices are harsh compared to other melodious singing birds.

They also have interesting breeding rituals, in which male birds tip their heads and fluff their feathers to attract mates. In this case, they chase away other male birds or become aggressive towards them. 

8. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher 

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher 
  • Scientific name: Polioptila caerulea 
  • Lifespan: around 4 years
  • Wingspan: 16 cm
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: 10 to 13 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, eggs, spiders etc

Blue-gray gnatcatchers are small songbirds that are widely distributed in the North American region. Besides their local distribution,  they are also common in Illinois state.

If I talk about their appearances, their upper bodies are grayish sky blue, and the lower parts are grayish-white with white eye rings around the eye areas. 

These Illinois bluebirds tend to inhabit wooded areas, shrublands, and deciduous forests, including Eastern and Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Later, they traveled or migrated to the Southern United States, Mexico, northern Central America, Cuba, and the Bahamas. They also make sounds and noises during their breeding seasons to attract their mates.

They build cone line nests and females  incubate for 10 to 15 days. Both male and female birds share their parental duties and feed their young. 

9. Barn Swallow 

Barn Swallow 
  • Scientific name: Hirundo rustica 
  • Lifespan: around 4 years
  • Wingspan: 32 to 34.5 cm
  • Native to:  Europe, Asia, Africa, America 
  • Size: 2- 7 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects, flies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles, wasps,  wild bees, ants etc.

The Barn swallow Birds are the subspecies of the swallow family, which are widely spotted in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Illinois.

To recognize these birds physically, you will notice that they have deep blue plumage on the upper parts. Besides, their breasts and belly parts (lower abdomen part) are white.

Their faces, chins, and throats are red, along with black beaks. If you see short-tailed birds in their colonies, you can easily guess that those are the female barn swallows.

Because Female birds look similar apart from their tails which are comparatively shorter than male swallow birds. These swallow species are fond of low vegetation, open country, farmlands with nearby water.

You can visit these birds between February to September during their breeding season. Male birds tend to reach their breeding area and find their nesting spot before female birds come there.

Later when female swallows arrive, they perform circling flight and sing to attract the females. Male and female both defend their nests and their territory.

Male become more aggressive towards their territory. After the breeding season, female birds lay 2 to 7 eggs and incubate around 14 to 19 days. 

10.   Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
  • Scientific name: Ardea herodias
  • Lifespan: around 15 years
  • Wingspan: 66 to 79 inches 
  • Native to: North and Central America 
  • Size: 36 to 54 inches 
  • Food or Diet: fish, small mammals, rats, ground squirrels, birds, crayfish, shrimp, crustaceans etc.

In Illinois, the other most common birds are Great blue herons, large water birds, or wading birds, similar species of the heron family.

These birds have grayish-blue upper bodies, orange legs, and large beaks. They are widely distributed in North America, except in Illinois.

In winter, you might see them traveling to Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. However, you can also detect their habitats as they prefer wetlands habitats such as fresh salty waters, flooded areas, marshes and mangrove.

They also have unique adaptability where these birds can adapt to any wetlands environment and adjust through it. These birds mostly choose to breed in colonies.

They choose new mates every breeding season and males arrive at the breeding spot and set the nesting areas for their female mates. Female blue herons lay 3 to 6 eggs in the nests and incubate them for 27 days.

Consequently, male herons incubate around 11 hours each day while the other hours are covered by the females.

11. Purple Martin 

Purple Martin
  • Scientific name: Progne subis 
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years; max 13 years
  • Wingspan: 39 to 41 cm
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: 20 cm  
  • Food or Diet: insects, mosquitoes, ants, etc.

Purple Martins are also small glossy steel blue sheen birds. These birds are common in Illinois state including North America, British Columbia, and Mexico.

Later, you may spot them in Bolivia,  Peru, and Brazil during the winter season. These birds are more likely to choose open areas and wooded places for their habitats.

They often like artificial nests or man-made nests for their nesting season. Sometimes they used old cavities that were made by woodpeckers.

During their breeding season, male birds arrive before the female birds and make the territories. Female birds lay one egg at a time and incubate for fifteen to sixteen days.

This species can survive up to 1 or 2 years. However, one individual bird can survive for around 13 years. They are famous for their flight agility and rapid flapping pattern as they can dive from the sky with a high speed. 

12. Northern Parula

Northern Parula
  • Scientific name: Setophaga americana 
  • Lifespan: around 5 years
  • Wingspan: around 16 to 18 cm
  • Native to: North America, Canada, and Florida  
  • Size: around 10.8 to 12.4 cm
  • Food or Diet: spiders, insects, caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants, wasps, bees, flies, beetles, etc.

Northern parulas are another bluebird species that are visible in Illinois. They are also associated with the New World Warbler family.

If I talk about their physical appearances, Their heads are ashy blue, chests are yellow, and wings and backs are blue with gray bellies.

As they are migratory birds they travel to Florida, Northern Central America, and West Indies in the winter seasons. They tend to prefer lowlands, dwelling forests, moist, dry, or wet forests, including agricultural plantations for their habitats in eastern North America.

They build their nests about 7 cm wide and the females incubate for 10 to 11 days there. After hatching, birds leave their nests around 10 to 11 days later.

13. Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Black-Throated Blue Warbler
  • Scientific name:  Setophaga caerulescens 
  • Lifespan: around 9 years
  • Wingspan: 19 to 20 cm
  • Native to: North America 
  • Size: 13 cm
  • Food or Diet: invertebrates, insects, caterpillars, crane flies, spiders

Black-throated blue warbler is a small-sized Passerine bird that is related to the New World warbler family in Illinois. Their upper body is shining deep blue with a black face and white flower abdomen parts.

These birds are widely spotted in North America, including the Caribbean and Central America. Their habitats can be found in deciduous forests, parks, and gardens. 

These birds generally prefer semi-open nesting, which is not very high; rather, they build their nests very close to the ground surface. Again, you may visit North America between May and July if you want to spot their breeding seasons.

Usually, birds sing a song to attract mates during their breeding seasons. These species are largely increasing day by day around the world and it was declared the least concern species by the IUCN in 2012.

14. Little Blue Heron 

Little Blue Heron 
  • Scientific name: Egretta caerulea
  • Lifespan:  13 years 11 months (Around 14 years)
  • Wingspan:  39 to 41 cm
  • Native to: America, United States,  South America 
  • Size: 22 to 29 inches 
  • Food or Diet: fish, insects, shrimps, amphibians, etc.

Little blue herons are other bluebirds that are widely seen in Illinois state, including America, the United States, South America, Canada, Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, and Venezuela regions.

You can easily spot these beautiful birds by their appearance. These birds have ashy blue bodies with purple-maroon heads and long beaks. Their feet and legs are black.

They apply unique hunting skills to hunt. They choose to stand still and wait for the prey to hunt them. They avoid chasing the prey and catching them.

They gradually walk for the fish or prey and move slower to their target then grab the prey with their bills. You can also find them nesting in colonies as they are colonial nesters. Both male and female herons incubate the eggs in the clutch.

15. Cerulean Warbler 

Cerulean Warbler 
  • Scientific name: Setophaga cerulea 
  • Lifespan: about 6 years 
  • Native to: Eastern North America 
  • Size: around 11 cm
  • Food or Diet: insects,  fruits, and flowers 

Cerulean warblers are small songbirds in the category of the Parulidae family in Illinois state. If you notice, you can see their whole body is covered in a sheen of sky blue on the back and white in the chests and belly.

Although they are found in Illinois state, they are mostly spotted in Eastern North America. Besides, these species prefer hardwood forests and deciduous forests for their habitats. 

So, there is a high chance of seeing these birds in these habitat places. They build their nests often in high places, about 98 feet above the ground. 

Male birds sing a whisper song, and females respond to their singing with a call. Sometimes female birds attack other females to destroy their nests and eggs as well. Gradually, male and female birds both build their nests together and choose their nesting sites.

As they are migratory birds, they travel long distances during their migration period by covering Midwest and northwest states in the spring and summer.


In conclusion,  Illinois is a diverse state of richness and nutrition, and these 15 bluebirds are widely distributed.

These bluebirds hold their significant values by surviving through nature with their adaptability and endurance tactics on holding on to their life. 

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