In this episode of BirdNoir, Michael Stein — Private Eye — gets a call from a friend, Danny, who wants to know why the bluest bird he’s ever seen has vanished. But there are many birds that are blue besides the true bluebirds (which belong to the thrush family). To solve the mystery, the detective needs to know the right questions to ask Danny, finding the relevant information to identify the bird and figure out what happened.
BirdNoir - The Mystery of the Blue Bird
Written by Conor Gearin and Mark Bramhill
This is BirdNoir. I’m Michael Stein, Private Eye.
I have this friend, Danny. Talks fast, sometimes gets a little mixed up. He called me the other day — bird emergency.
Danny: [on the phone] Michael, you gotta help me. There was a blue bird in my backyard — boy, I’ve never seen a bird that blue — but now he up and vanished. Gone, presto. What happened?
Slow down, Danny. Run that back. You say this bird was a bluebird, or was it a bird that’s blue?
Danny: Oh gee, I’ve never thought about that before. What’s the difference?
Well, there’s plenty of blue-colored birds out there that aren’t true bluebirds, which are members of the thrush family. Maybe you saw a Blue Jay? Large bird, tall crest on its head?
[Blue Jay call, ML 232827071]
Danny: No way! This was a small bird with a round head.
Interesting — was the tail wedge-shaped? Maybe you had a Tree Swallow?
[Tree Swallow song, ML 49588]
Danny: Nah, that tail was thin and straight, Michael.
Got it. Was the belly a different color? Lighter blue might point to a Mountain Bluebird, or red to an Eastern or Western Bluebird.
[Eastern Bluebird song, ML 534419]
Danny: No, I woulda noticed that. This bird was dark blue all over, except the wings. They had black bars on them. And, you know, there was this other bird hanging around that was all brown.
That settles it, Danny. Your bird’s not a bluebird, he’s an Indigo Bunting, and he’s just flown the coop for the winter with his mate, the brown-feathered bird! Just wait til the spring, I’ll bet you they’ll be back, good as new.
Danny: What a relief.
[Indigo Bunting song, ML 161103721]
Another case closed by knowing the right questions to ask. Learn how to solve your own bird mysteries at our website, Birdnote dot ORG. I’m Private Eye, Michael Stein.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Blue Jay ML 232827071 recorded by W. Hershberger, Tree Swallow ML 49588 recorded by L. Peyton, Eastern Bluebird ML 534419 recorded by W. Hershberger, and Indigo Bunting ML 161103721 recorded by D. Hitchcox.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2021 BirdNote February 2021 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# noir-01-2021-12-03 noir-01