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14 Amazing Blue Birds In Pennsylvania (Photos+Fun Facts)

Living in Pennsylvania and saw some blue-colored birds but not sure which ones they were?

Examples of blue birds in Pennsylvania include the blue jays, indigo buntings, blue grossbeaks, several species of swallows, belted kingfishers, eastern bluebirds, and many others. 

Some of them, like the blue jays, great blue herons, and belted kingfishers will stay year-round there, while others, like the indigo bunting and eastern bluebirds, will migrate south from Pennsylvania when the winter comes.

Blue Birds In Pennsylvania

Blue Jay 

blue jay
  • Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
  • Lifespan: 7 years 
  • Wingspan: 13-17 in 
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Year-round residents throughout Pennsylvania

Easy to identify by its noisy calls, large size, and bold colors, the blue jay is one of the most popular and famous blue birds in Pennsylvania. It is the largest bird to regularly visit Pennsylvania and can be found in most of the eastern and central United States. 

Blue jays are Pennsylvania’s year-round residents, often found near oaks, in forests, woodlots, towns, cities, and parks.

Both sexes have similar plumage – a mix of black, blue, and white plumage above that is white or light gray underneath. On top of the head, there is a large crest.

The blue jay is not a state bird in any US state; it is, however, the mascot of a Major League Baseball team called the Toronto Blue Jays. 

These songbirds are very intelligent and can use tools and imitate the sounds of predators.

Blue jays mate for life and work together to build a nest for their young. When the female is sitting on the eggs, the male will feed and take care of her. 

Blue jays are omnivores that mostly feed on seeds, berries, nuts, and occasionally insects.

Eastern Bluebird

eastern bluebird
  • Scientific name: Sialia sialis
  • Lifespan: 6-10 years
  • Wingspan: 9-12 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

The eastern bluebird is a small North American migratory thrush with a big, rounded head, large eyes, and alert posture. 

Marvelous birds to capture in your binoculars, male Eastern bluebirds have a vivid royal blue head and back plumage and warm red-brown and white breasts. 

They are the most widespread of the three bluebird species and can be found in open country with scattered trees, farms, and roadsides in eastern parts of North America. Eastern bluebirds are the only bluebird species (genus Sialia) that currently nest in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

While some are year-round residents in Pennsylvania, the majority of Eastern bluebirds will migrate south in the winter. The first to return to Pennsylvania early in March are males, going back to the same territories where they previously bred.

Just like their cousins, the mountain bluebirds, the eastern bluebirds are cavity nesters that love nest boxes. They are very social birds living in flocks with over 100 individuals. 

They are also very territorial. To attract a female, a male bluebird will sing over 1,000 songs per hour; it sings without opening its beak wide. 

These birds are omnivores that mostly feed on insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, caterpillars, and some fruit.

The Eastern bluebird is the official bird of Missouri and New York.

Want to see some common birds of Upstate New York? Check this article.

Indigo Bunting

blue indigo bunting
  • Scientific name: Passerina cyanea
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Wingspan: 7-9 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

The indigo bunting, also known as blue bunting, is a small seed-eating bird. Common across Pennsylvania, they are generally found in weedy fields and shrubby areas at the edges of woodlands. 

Between September and November, indigo buntings will leave Pa and migrate south, to Mexico, South, and Central America. These birds are also common in North Texas.

They are migratory birds that travel during the night, using stars to navigate. 

Adult males have a vibrant blue plumage during summer, with slightly richer blue colors on their heads. During the winter months, they are brown, just like females are year-round. 

Males are sometimes mistaken for blue grosbeaks; however, blue grossbeaks are larger, have thicker bills, and have slightly different plumage colors.

Indigo buntings are territorial birds and omnivores that feed on insects, seeds, and berries. 

Because of their bright blue color, many people consider indigo buntings to symbolize wisdom and spiritual realization. 

These birds usually mate for life; occasionally, they may switch partners within a single breeding season. 

A group of buntings is called a “decoration”, “mural”, or “sacrifice”.

Blue Grosbeak

blue grosbeak
  • Scientific name: Passerina caerulea
  • Lifespan: 6-7 years
  • Wingspan: 10-11 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer resident in southern Pennsylvania

This medium-sized migratory blue bird nests in southern Pennsylvania, particularly in the southeast and southcentral portions of the state.

During winter, blue grosbeak will migrate to Central America. Besides Pa, it is also common in northern Mexico and the southern United States. 

It is a stocky songbird with a very large, triangular silver beak that almost covers the whole face. 

Adult male blue grosbeaks have a deep blue plumage color, tiny black masks in front of the eyes, and chestnut wing bars. Females have rich cinnamon-brown colors. The color of the head is a rich blue. 

These birds often found in open fields and woodland edges will occasionally use snakeskin when building their nests to scare off predators. 

To attract the female, the male will sing, and when a female chooses him as her mate, he will sing louder than before. 

Blue grosbeaks are omnivores that often feed on the ground, feasting on insects and seeds of weeds, grasses, and other plants.

Purple Martin

purple martin
  • Scientific name: Progne subis
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years
  • Wingspan: 15 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

The purple martin is the largest swallow in North America. Known for its chattering song and aerial acrobatics, it is one of the most beautiful blue birds in Pennsylvania.

Purple martin will spend winter in the rainforests of Brazil and then undertake a 7,000-mile-long migration trip back into the eastern United States and Canada. 

Read More: 5 types of loons that live in Canada

As a sure sign that spring is close, the first purple martins of the year can be spotted in Pennsylvania around March.

Talking about the appearance, the bird has a slightly hooked bill, a short and forked tail, and long, tapered wings. Adult males are dark overall with a purplish-blue shimmer visible at close range.

Depending on the light and angle, their head color may appear to be royal blue, navy blue, or deep purple. Females are grayer with shine on the crown and back. 

Purple martins will typically build their nests out of straw, twigs, and pine needles. They are very social and colonial birds – the largest roosting colony ever discovered had over 700,000 birds! 

Purple martins are carnivores (insectivores) that feed on fire ants, bugs, flies, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, crickets, moths, wasps, bees, cicadas, spiders, and termites. 

They are also excellent fliers that can reach flight speeds of over 40 mph.

Purple martins are also on our list of stunning songbirds of Florida.

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

black throated blue warbler
  • Scientific name: Setophaga caerulescens
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years
  • Wingspan: 7.5 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents mostly in central and northern Pennsylvania

Black-throated blue warbler is a small, well-proportioned bird with a sharp, pointed beak. It breeds in dense hardwood forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.

In Pennsylvania, this blue bird can be mostly found in the central and northern parts of the state. 

From August to October, black-throated blue warblers will begin migrating south, toward the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands).

Adult males are unmistakable; they have a deep midnight blue color above, white bellies, and black faces and sides. They do not change their appearance as the season changes; black-throated blue warblers can be easily recognized in the fall and the spring.

When first discovered, since males and females look so different, people used to describe them as two separate species. 

Black-throated blue warblers are cute-looking and very small blue songbirds weighing just 0.34 oz.

Barn Swallow

barn swallow
  • Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Wingspan: 12.5-13.5 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to several species of swallows, which are all small, distinctively shaped birds. Pointed wings and forked tails are physical traits that most swallows possess and are adaptations for speedy flight. 

The barn swallow is one of the largest swallow species found in Pennsylvania. In early fall, this long-distance migratory bird flies from North American breeding grounds to Central and South America. 

The barn swallow is also the most widespread species of swallow in the world. 

It has a cobalt blue head and wings, rusty-orange throat and forehead, and a pale orange chest and underside. 

As mentioned, these blue birds are easy to recognize by their long, slender, and deeply forked tails. Males and females look similar – the female’s tail is a little less forked. 

According to legend, the barn swallow got its forked tail because it stole fire from the gods and brought it to people. This made the gods angry so they threw a firebrand at the swallow, burning its middle tail feathers.

They are insectivores that catch and eat insects in the air as they fly.

Read More: What animals can you see at night in Pennsylvania?

Tree Swallow

blue and white tree swallow birds
  • Scientific name: Tachycineta bicolor
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Wingspan: 12-14 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

Tree swallows are small migratory songbirds with long, pointed wings and short, squared, or slightly notched tails. These birds have almost metallic greenish-blue backs and heads, together with white throats, breasts, and bellies. 

Tree swallows breed in the United States and Canada – they begin migrating south in July and August to western Mexico and Central America. During summer they can be found in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and a few other states.

Another welcoming sign of spring in much of North America, tree swallows are social animals whose flocks can include thousands of birds. 

If you decide to try to identify this species, the best habitats to start your quest will be open spaces such as wetlands or farm fields.

They are omnivores that feed on insects, mollusks, spiders, and occasionally on fruit, berries, and seeds. 

Read More: 17 big birds that live in Florida

White-breasted Nuthatch

white breasted nuthatch
  • Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Wingspan: 11 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Year-round residents throughout Pennsylvania

The largest nuthatch in North America, the white-breasted nuthatch is a medium-sized bird with clean blue-gray and white plumage. 

The male and female look very much alike, the only difference is that the female has lighter color. 

These quirky and loud birds got their name from the way they crack open seeds – they will jam their seeds and nuts into tree bark, and then whack it with their beaks to open the seeds. 

Common visitors in Pennsylvania, white-breasted nuthatches can be found in forests and open areas in most of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. 

They are omnivores that feed on insects and seeds.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

red-breasted nuthatch
  • Scientific name: Sitta canadensis
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Wingspan: 8.5 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Year-round resident in Central Pennsylvania, winter resident in eastern parts

These small songbirds will stay the entire year in central parts of Pennsylvania, although some might spend the winter in eastern parts of the state. 

You will recognize these active birds by blue-grey upperparts, cinnamon underparts, white throats, and black stripes over the eyes. Red-breasted nuthatches have straight grey beaks, long toes and claws, and black crowns.  Their call is high-pitched, nasal, and weak “yank-yank”.

Unlike white-breasted nuthatches who prefer living in deciduous forests, red-breasted nuthatches can be mainly seen in coniferous woods and mountains.

They mainly feed on insects and seeds, especially from conifers.  Red-breasted nuthatches will hoard excess food by wedging nuts into the bark and then hammering them in with their beaks.

They begin to migrate south earlier than many other birds, starting in early July.

Want to see more than 25 blue and orange birds? Check this article.

Great Blue Heron

great blue heron
  • Scientific name: Ardea herodias
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Wingspan: 5.5 to 6.6 ft
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Year-round resident throughout Pennsylvania

The largest of North American herons and one of Pennsylvania’s largest birds, the great blue heron is easy to identify by its large yellow-orange bill, short black plumes on its head, and black and chestnut pattern on the shoulders. It is quite common near the shores of open water and in wetlands. 

During the flight, they will hold their necks in an S-shape with legs trailing behind. Despite their large size, great blue herons are fast birds that can reach speeds of around 30 mph. 

Both parents will take turns in incubating the eggs, and after hatching, the chicks can fly at only 2 months of age. They nest in colonies called heronries that can occasionally have more than 500 nests. 

Great blue herons are carnivores that feed on fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, small mammals, and even other birds. These huge blue birds will slowly stalk their prey in shallow waters, striking with lightning speed, catching them with their long and sharp beaks.

Read More: 25+ stunning birds of Western Pennsylvania

Cerulean Warbler

cerulean warbler
DiaGraphicCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Setophaga cerulea
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Wingspan: 7-9 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

These small blue-colored birds are common in deciduous forests with tall trees in Pennsylvania. 

In fall, cerulean warblers will begin migrating south, to winter in Andean mountain forests, from Colombia south to Bolivia.

They have one of the longest migrations of any small passerine bird, traveling almost 2,500 miles between breeding grounds in eastern North America to nonbreeding habitats of northern South America.

Cerulean warblers can be difficult to identify since they forage, sing, nest, and roost high in the canopy of mature forests.

In case you encounter one, you will notice a small, round beak, a shorter tail, pale cerulean blue and white upperparts, a black necklace across the breast, and black streaks on the back and flanks.

The population of this migrant songbird is declining and is considered threatened. 

Cerulean warblers are insectivores (carnivores) that primarily feed on insects such as flies, beetles, weevils, and caterpillars.

Want to learn more about the largest birds that live in Michigan? Check this article.

Belted Kingfisher

belted kingfisher
  • Scientific name: Megaceryle alcyon
  • Lifespan: 6-14 years
  • Wingspan: 19-23 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Year-round residents throughout Pennsylvania

This large, conspicuous water kingfisher is native to North America. Belted kingfisher has a large head, a shaggy crest on the top and back of the head, and a straight, thick, pointed beak. The upper plumage is blue-gray while the underparts are white.

Often found around streams, lakes, bays, and coasts, belted kingfishers are very territorial and males will often chase intruders away.

If looking for a belted kingfisher, you will hear it before you see it – listen for its distinct and loud rattling or chattering call. 

These birds are carnivores that dive to catch fish and crayfish with their heavy beaks. They will also eat mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, and lizards. 

They can’t digest bones so just like owls, belted kingfishers will regurgitate the undigested pieces as pellets.

Belted kingfishers are one of many examples of blue-winged birds.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 

blue gray gnatcatcher
  • Scientific name: Polioptila caerulea
  • Lifespan: 3-4 years
  • Wingspan: 6 in
  • Range In Pennsylvania: Summer residents throughout Pennsylvania

Blue-gray gnatcatchers are one of the “angriest” blue birds in Pennsylvania. That’s because, male Blue-gray Gnatcatchers during the breeding season have a dark, V-shaped “eyebrow” marking that makes them look like they are constantly annoyed. 

Males have a pale blue-gray color of the heads and the upperparts, and white underparts. 

Females are less blue, while juveniles are greenish-gray. 

The blue-gray gnatcatcher is a very small songbird native to North America. 

It is a monogamous bird that mates for life. Males can be particularly aggressive and will chase larger birds away from feeding areas or their nesting territory. 

In summer, these small birds can be found in open woods, oaks, pines, and thickets of Pennsylvania, California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and many other eastern parts of the United States.

Read More: Amazing black and white birds of Colorado


This concludes our list of blue birds in Pennsylvania. 

There are plenty of those in Pa, including jays, several types of swallows, kingfishers, herons, gnatcatchers, cardinals, and many others.

Pennsylvania has large areas of different natural habitats that make great homes for a wide range of bird species, especially the blue-colored ones.

Next time, should you see these birds in person, you should be able to recognize any of them with ease!

And if you enjoyed our article, here are other popular reads on birds: Amazing black birds that have yellow heads and 15+ examples of birds with green plumage in Florida

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