Western Bluebird - male
On our final day touring the Kern River Valley and the Southern Sierra with Bob Stewart, we birded along Faye Ranch Road, near the Kern River Preserve.
This male Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) perched briefly. Birds perched in the shade reflect less light, requiring slow shutter speeds (about 1/30-1/60 sec), but when they pose like this a photo becomes possible. The intense colors here are as we viewed him. The usual sunnier views tend to wash out the intensity of the electric blue. There may be a few more beautiful birds in North America, but not many. Note the blue throat (orange in the Eastern Blubird), and blue on belly (white on the Eastern).
Order - Passeriformes - Perching Birds/Songbirds
Family - Turdidae - Thrushes (mostly Old World species, and it's complicated). 330 species in 54 genera (J. Kricher, in Sibley Guide).
Genus: Sialia - Bluebirds - 3 species, all seen in U.S. (Western, Eastern, and Mountain Bluebirds)
Species : Sialia mexicana - Western Bluebird