Minnesota is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful states in the country, and what makes it even more special is the diversity of its birdlife. The blue birds in Minnesota, with their stunning and vibrant colors, add an extra layer of beauty to the state’s natural landscape.
So, these birds are a must-see for any bird lover. In this article, I am providing identification guides and photos of 13 fascinating blue birds in Minnesota.
Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just starting out, this photo and ID guide will provide you with valuable information and insights about these amazing birds. So grab your binoculars, and let’s get started!
- 1 – Blue Jay
- 2 – Eastern Bluebird
- 3 – Great Blue Heron
- 4 – Tree Swallow
- 5 – Belted Kingfisher
- 6 – Indigo Bunting
- 7 – White-breasted Nuthatch
- 8 – Purple Martin
- 9 – Cerulean Warbler
- 10 – Barn Swallow
- 11 – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- 12 – Northern Parula
- 13 – Mountain Bluebird
- Summary of Information about Blue Birds in Minnesota!
1 – Blue Jay
Quick Identification Guide of Blue Jay
- Medium-sized songbird, about 9 to 12 inches in length, with a wingspan of 13 to 17 inches
- Blue jays have striking blue upperparts, a white face, and a black collar around their neck. Their underparts are white to grayish-white, and they have black bars on their wings and tail
- They have a distinctive crest on their head, which they can raise or lower depending on their mood
- Their bill is black and strong, and their legs and feet are also black
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a beautiful and noisy bird that is a common sight in much of North America, including Minnesota.
These birds are native to the eastern and central parts of the continent. But they have expanded their range westward over the past few centuries.
Blue jays are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, from deciduous and coniferous forests to parks, backyards, and urban areas.
They are omnivores, feeding on a wide range of foods including insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, and even small animals such as mice and frogs.
Blue jays are known for their raucous calls and mimicry abilities. And you can often hear them before you see them.
To spot a Blue Jay in Minnesota, look for them in wooded areas and parks, or listen for their loud calls and whistles.
They can also be attracted to bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds or peanuts.
2 – Eastern Bluebird
Quick Identification Guide of Eastern Bluebird
- Small songbird, about 6.5 to 7 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 10 inches
- Males have bright blue upperparts, rusty-red throats and breasts, and white belly
- Females have duller blue upperparts, grayish heads and back, and rusty-orange breast
- Both males and females have a short, straight black bill and a blackish tail with white outer feathers
- Legs and feet are black in color
The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is a small but striking songbird native to eastern North America.
These birds are often found in open woodlands, farmlands, and suburban areas with scattered trees and nest boxes.
Their diet consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates, which they catch by perching on branches and swooping down to the ground or air. In winter, they may also eat berries and other fruits.
Eastern Bluebirds are well known for their bright blue plumage, especially on the males, which is a result of the refraction of light by specialized feathers.
This blue coloration is not just for show, however, as it helps these birds attract mates and defend their territory.
If you’re looking to spot an Eastern Bluebird in Minnesota, head to open grassy areas with scattered trees, such as parks, golf courses, and meadows.
Keep an eye out for a flash of blue in the trees or a small bird perched on a fence post, and listen for their sweet, warbling song.
3 – Great Blue Heron
Quick Identification Guide of Great Blue Heron
- Size: Up to 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) in height with a wingspan of 6.6 feet (2 meters).
- Body Color: Mostly blue-gray with a white face, black plume on the head, and a rusty-brown neck.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: The Great Blue Heron has long, yellow legs and a sharp, pointed bill. They also have a distinctive “S” shaped neck when flying.
- Bill: Long, pointed, and yellow in color.
- Legs and Feet: Long and pale yellow and gray with sharp claws.
- Males and females have similar coloration.
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird found throughout North America. These majestic birds are often seen standing motionless at the water’s edge, waiting to catch fish or other aquatic prey.
Great Blue Herons prefer to live in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and rivers, where they build nests in tall trees or on the ground.
They are known for their distinctive blue-gray coloration, white face, and long, grayish-yellow legs and bill. And they have a white morph too, and it is sometimes called “Great White Heron”.
Great Blue Herons are present in Minnesota year-round. But, most commonly you can see them during the summer months when they are breeding and raising their young to associate with wetland habitats.
If you’re interested in spotting a Great Blue Heron in Minnesota, head to a local wetland or marshy area during the early morning or late afternoon, when these birds are most active.
4 – Tree Swallow
Quick Identification Guide of Tree Swallow
- Size: Small to medium-sized bird, about 5.5 to 6.7 inches (14 to 17 cm) in length and 11 to 13 inches (28 to 33 cm) in wingspan.
- Body color: The upperparts are iridescent dark blue-green, while the underparts are white.
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: The forehead and face are white, and the wings are long and pointed. The tail is slightly forked and is also blue-green.
- Bill: The bill is short and black.
- Legs and feet: The legs and feet are short and black.
- Both male and female Tree Swallows have blue-green upperparts, but the female’s coloration is usually duller.
The Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is a small migratory bird found throughout North America. This species prefers open areas near water, such as marshes, ponds, and lakes, where it can feed on flying insects.
In the breeding season, you can see Tree Swallows in Minnesota from late March to early September. During this time, they build their nests in tree cavities or nest boxes, often in colonies with other Tree Swallows.
Their nests are made of grasses, feathers, and other soft materials, and the female typically lays 4 to 7 eggs.
Tree Swallows are known for their acrobatic flight displays, and they are often seen swooping and diving over bodies of water as they catch insects on their wings.
Their blue-green upperparts make them easily distinguishable from other swallows, and their white underparts and long, pointed wings further aid in identification.
In the winter months, Tree Swallows migrate to southern parts of the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
5 – Belted Kingfisher
Quick Identification Guide of Belted Kingfisher
- Size: Roughly the size of an American Robin, 11-13 inches (28-33 cm) in length with a wingspan of 19-22 inches (48-56 cm).
- Body Color: Blue-gray upperparts, white underparts, and a white collar around the neck.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: A large, shaggy crest on the head, and a long, straight bill that is mostly black with a white spot near the tip.
- Bill: Long, straight, and pointed, with a black upper mandible and a mostly orange lower mandible.
- Legs and Feet: Short and gray with webbed feet.
- Both males and females have a blue-gray back and wings.
The Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) is a striking bird native to North America, known for its distinctive appearance and unique behavior.
These birds can be found throughout most of the United States and Canada, as well as in parts of Central America and the Caribbean.
Belted Kingfishers prefer to live near bodies of water such as rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal shorelines, where they hunt for fish, insects, and small amphibians.
In Minnesota, Belted Kingfishers are common year-round residents, with breeding populations found in wetlands and forested areas in the northern parts of the state.
These birds are known for their distinctive call, which is a loud, rattling cry that can be heard from a distance.
If you’re interested in seeing a Belted Kingfisher in Minnesota, head to a local waterway and keep an eye out for a small, blue-gray bird with a shaggy crest and a long, straight bill and of course alert for the distinctive call.
6 – Indigo Bunting
Quick Identification Guide of Indigo Bunting
- Size: Indigo Buntings are small birds, about 4.7-5.1 inches long.
- Body Color: The male Indigo Bunting is a bright blue all over, while the female is brownish with blue on the wings and tail.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: The male has a unique metallic blue coloration, while the female has a streaked breast and a light stripe above the eye.
- Bill: The bill of both male and female Indigo Buntings is short and conical.
- Legs and Feet: The legs and feet are black in color.
The Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) is a striking bird with a male that is completely blue and a female that is mostly brownish with a blue tinge on the wings and tail.
These birds are migratory and can be found in a variety of habitats, including fields, wood edges, and brushy areas throughout much of the eastern United States.
In Minnesota, they can be seen in the breeding season from late April to early October, with the peak of their migration occurring in May and June.
Indigo Buntings feed on insects, seeds, and fruits, and can often be found perched on branches or on the ground foraging for food.
Their bright blue coloration and sweet songs make them a favorite among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
7 – White-breasted Nuthatch
Quick Identification Guide of White-breasted Nuthatch
- Size: About 5.5 inches in length with a wingspan of 8-10 inches.
- Body Color: Blue-gray upperparts, black cap, and white underparts.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: A distinctive black stripe on the head, and a short, straight bill that is slightly upturned.
- Bill: Short, straight, and pointed, with a gray-black coloration.
- Legs and Feet: Short and sturdy with sharp claws, dark gray.
- Both male and female White-breasted Nuthatches have a blue-gray back and wings.
The White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is a small, energetic bird that is commonly found in deciduous forests throughout North America.
These birds are known for their distinctive appearance and unique behavior, which includes climbing headfirst down tree trunks and branches in search of insects and seeds.
These birds are typically seen foraging in trees and shrubs, and can be heard making a variety of vocalizations, including a loud, nasal “yank yank” call.
In Minnesota, White-breasted Nuthatches are common year-round residents, with breeding populations found in wooded areas throughout the state.
If you’re interested in seeing a White-breasted Nuthatch in Minnesota, head to a local wooded area and keep an eye out for a small, energetic bird moving around branches with a distinctive black stripe on its head.
8 – Purple Martin
Quick Identification Guide of Purple Martin
- Large swallow, about 7 to 8.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of 15 to 16 inches
- Males have a dark, glossy purple-blue plumage, while females are slightly duller in color
- Their bill is short and slightly hooked, and their legs and feet are grayish-black
- Purple Martins have a unique shape, with a forked tail and long, pointed wings
- They have a distinctive, chattering call that is often heard before they are seen
The Purple Martin (Progne subis) is a highly social and migratory bird that is a favorite among birdwatchers in Minnesota.
These birds are native to North America and breed in the eastern and central parts of the continent before migrating to South America for the winter.
Purple Martins are highly dependent on man-made nesting structures, such as birdhouses and gourds. And they are often found nesting in large colonies in open areas such as fields, meadows, and golf courses.
Their diet consists mainly of flying insects, which they catch on the wing while in flight.
Purple Martins are highly vocal and can be heard chattering and calling to each other in flight or while perched.
If you’re looking to spot a Purple Martin in Minnesota, the best time to see them is during their breeding season, which typically lasts from late March to early August.
Look for them flying over open areas or perched on the roofs of birdhouses or other structures.
Keep an eye out for their glossy purple-blue plumage and unique shape, which make them easy to recognize.
9 – Cerulean Warbler
Quick Identification Guide of Cerulean Warbler
- Size: 4.3 inches long, with 7.9 inches wingspan.
- Body color: Bluish-gray upperparts, white underparts
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: Diffused black eyeline, blue-gray wings with white wing bars, black bill, and legs.
- Bill: Short and pointed
- Legs and Feet: Black
- The male is blue with blue-gray wings, while the female has bluish-green upperparts with yellowish underparts.
The Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea) is a small, migratory songbird that breeds in the eastern United States and winters in South America.
The males are particularly impressive, as they are bright blue with blue-gray wings. Females are less colorful but still attractive.
Cerulean Warblers prefer to breed in mature deciduous forests with a dense canopy. But they can also be found in younger forests and riparian areas.
During migration, they can be seen in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, parks, and suburban areas.
In Minnesota, they can be seen during the breeding season but only towards the southeastern parts of the state. They feed mainly on insects and spiders, but also eat berries and other fruits.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Cerulean Warbler, which has experienced population declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation and is considered a near-threatened species by the IUCN.
Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts should keep an eye out for this stunning bird during its breeding if you travel along the southeastern parts of Minnesota.
10 – Barn Swallow
Quick Identification Guide of Barn Swallow
- Size: 5.9 – 7.5 inches (15-18 cm) long, with a wingspan of 11.4-12.6 inches (32-34 cm).
- Body color: Metallic blue-black upperparts, cinnamon-buff underparts, with a rusty-red throat and forehead
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: Long, forked tail, pointed wings, and a short, wide bill.
- Bill: Short and wide, black
- Legs and Feet: Short and black
- Both males and females have the same plumage, but females have shorter tail streamers.
The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a migratory bird that can be found all over the world, from North America to Europe, Asia, and Africa.
This bird is easily recognizable, with its metallic blue-black upperparts, cinnamon-buff underparts, and rusty-red throat and forehead. Its long, forked tail, pointed wings, and short, wide bill also make it easy to identify.
Barn Swallows are known for their aerial acrobatics, swooping and diving through the air as they catch insects on the wing.
They prefer open habitats, such as farmlands, meadows, and wetlands, where they can find ample food.
In Minnesota, Barn Swallows can be seen during the breeding season from March to September. They build their cup-shaped nests out of mud and grass, often attaching them to the sides of barns, sheds, and other structures.
Barn Swallows are an important part of the ecosystem, helping to control insect populations and serving as indicators of habitat quality.
However, they are also vulnerable to habitat loss and other threats, so it is important to protect their breeding and foraging areas.
Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts can enjoy watching these beautiful birds as they soar through the skies of Minnesota.
11 – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Quick Identification Guide of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- Size: Small songbird, about 4.5 inches in length
- Body Color: Bluish-gray upperparts and white underparts
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: Black tail with white edges, thin white eye-ring, and long, thin bill
- Male or Female: Both have blue-gray plumage, but males may have slightly brighter blue coloring
- Bill: Long and slender, slightly curved downward
- Legs and Feet: Blackish-gray legs and feet
The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is a delightful little bird that can be found throughout much of the eastern United States, including Minnesota.
One of the most distinguishing features of this bird is its pointed bill and the black supercilium which does not go beyond the eye.
Both males and females have blue-gray plumage, though males may have a slightly brighter blue coloring. The tail is black with white edges, and the bird has a thin white eye-ring.
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are common in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, mixed woods, and scrubby areas.
They can be seen in Minnesota from spring through fall, as they migrate to breed in the state. Insects make up the majority of their diet, which they catch by constantly flitting through the trees and shrubs.
They are often heard before they are seen, with their high-pitched calls and songs.
If you’re in Minnesota during the spring and summer months, keep an eye out for these lovely birds, but you need to travel to the far southeastern corner of Minnesota to spot this beauty.
12 – Northern Parula
Quick Identification Guide of Northern Parula
- The Northern Parula is a small songbird, measuring around 4.3-4.7 inches in length.
- Both males and females have bluish-gray backs, with a greenish-yellow patch on their upper back. They both have a yellow throat and breast with a broken necklace of black spots.
- Males have a distinctive blue-gray head, while females have a more subdued greenish-gray head.
- They have a thin, pointed bill, black legs, and feet.
- Their wings are mostly bluish-gray, with two white wing bars.
The Northern Parula (Setophaga americana) is a small, colorful songbird that breeds in the boreal forests of North America, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and southward to the southern United States.
It’s not specifically blue but you can see a fair blue tinge on the gray upper parts.
This bird is a common resident of the Southeastern United States, including Minnesota, during the breeding season from March to July, especially in northern parts of the state.
They can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous and mixed forests, wooded swamps, and suburban areas with mature trees.
Northern Parulas feed on insects, including beetles, flies, and caterpillars, which they catch by foraging in the canopy and mid-story of trees.
During the breeding season, male Northern Parulas are known for their distinctive buzzy, trilled song, which they use to establish and defend their territories.
If you’re in Minnesota during the spring and early summer, keep an eye out for these small, blue-headed birds flitting through the trees and singing their hearts out.
13 – Mountain Bluebird
Quick Identification Guide of Mountain Bluebird
- Size: 6.5-7.9 inches long with a wingspan of 13-16 inches
- Body Color: Males are sky-blue with pale rusty breasts and white underparts. Females are gray-blue with pale rusty breasts and white underparts.
- Unique Distinguishable Colors or Patterns: The male’s blue color is bright and striking, and both males and females have a white belly.
- Bill: Thin and pointed, black in color
- Legs and Feet: Short and black
The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) is a migratory bird species native to North America.
This bird species is known for its stunning blue plumage and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including alpine meadows, open grasslands, and forest clearings.
Mountain Bluebirds primarily feed on insects, but they also consume fruits and seeds during the winter months.
In Minnesota, Mountain Bluebirds can be seen during the spring and summer months when they migrate to the state to breed. To spot these magnificent birds, head to open areas with short vegetation and look for them perched on fence posts or hovering over fields in search of insects.
Mountain Bluebirds are a treat to watch, and their stunning blue coloration is a sight to behold!
Summary of Information about Blue Birds in Minnesota!
This table provides a summary of information on the above-listed blue birds. Refer to the table to get the length, wingspan, food preferences of those birds and best times of the year, and the best regions in Minnesota to see them.
|Bird with Blue color||Place and time of the year to see them in Minnesota||Length||Wingspan||Food|
|Blue Jay||All regions – year-round||9 – 12 inches||13 – 17 inches||insects, fruits, nuts,, mice and frogs|
|Eastern Bluebird||All regions – breeding||6.5 – 7 inches||10 inches||insects and other small invertebrates|
|Great Blue Heron||Northwest and west border regions – breeding|
Other regions – year-round
|4.5 feet||65.8 – 79.1 inches||fish, amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles, mammals, and birds|
|Tree Swallow||All regions – breeding||5.5 – 6.7 inches||11 – 13 inches||flying insects|
|Belted Kingfisher||Southern regions – year-round|
Northern parts – breeding
|11 – 13 inches||19 – 22 inches||fish, insects, and small amphibians|
|Indigo Bunting||All regions – breeding||5 – 6 inches||7.5 – 8.7 inches||insects, fruits and seeds|
|White-breasted Nuthatch||All regions – year-round||5.5 – 6 inches||8 – 10 inches||insects and plant matter (acorns, nuts)|
|Purple Martin||All regions – breeding||7 – 8.5 inches||15 – 16 inches||flying insects|
|Cerulean Warbler||Metro region – breeding||4.3 inches||7.9 inches||insects and spiders|
|Barn Swallow||All regions – breeding||5.9 7.5 inches||11.4 – 12.6 inches||flying insects|
|Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||Southeast region – breeding||3.9 – 4.3 inches||6.3 inches||Small insects and spiders|
|Northern Parula||Northern parts – breeding|
Other regions – migration
|4.3 – 4.7 inches||6.3 – 7.1 inches||Mostly insects (beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets) and berries and seeds (especially in winter)|
|Mountain Bluebird||All regions – year-round||6.3 – 7.9 inches||11 – 14.2 inches||Mostly insects (beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets) and berries and seeds (specially in winter)|
Well, there you have it – 13 amazing blue birds that you might be lucky enough to spot in the beautiful state of Minnesota! If you need more info such as range map of those birds, you can refer All about Birds, and check on ebird for actual sightings date of those birds.
So, grab your binoculars, and head out into the great outdoors – Minnesota’’s blue birds are waiting to be discovered! Happy birding!
Before you leave, have a peek at the following articles to add more amazing birds to your checklist: