INTO THE BLUE: COOL FACTS
Am I Blue?
Considering people’s affection for the striking colour of bluebirds, it’s ironic to discover that the blue we see is an illusion. There is no such thing as a true blue bird. The blue colour is created by the way light waves interact with tiny pockets of air and protein molecules in the bird’s feathers. In other words, the blue is a structural colour, rather than one produced by pigments such as orange, yellow and red. If you grind up a bluebird feather, it turns a dull brown. —K.B.
Not All Bluebirds Are Alike
Bluebirds of one region are sometimes confused with other bluebirds, but they can be distinguished without difficulty. The western bluebird has a blue (male) or gray (female) throat and orange breast, the eastern bluebird has an orange throat, and the mountain bluebird lacks orange colour anywhere on its body. —K.E.
Slippery Slope to Summer?
Skiers and snowboarders refer to a “bluebird” day, a clear and sunny day after a snowfall, perfect for hitting the slopes, though with a hint of melancholy as it may be seen as a harbinger of nearing spring. —K.E.
Spirit in the Sky
The Cochiti people in the American southwest believe the firstborn son of the Sun was named Bluebird; nearby Navajo saw the mountain bluebird as a spirit of the rising sun in animal form.
Further north, Iroquois myths tell of the bluebird driving off the gods of winter, while Cherokee legends hold that bluebirds control the weather, particularly the wind. The Ojibwe tell a tale of how bluebirds helped make the first rainbow, when the Earth was new and there was no colour.