Blue-colored Friends

Ulysses Butterflies on Lantana, Australia. Photo: A. Alexander

If any of my friends in the Northern Hemisphere are feeling a little blue about the waning of summer, here is a panoply of blue wildlife to uplift your spirits.


Blue-gray Tanager, Peru


Blue-footed Booby, Galapagos. Photo: A. Alexander


Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Costa Rica. Photo: A. Alexander


Though there are many birds with blue, there are also insects and reptiles, and even a monkey.


Bluet Damselfly, Nevada. Photo: A. Alexander


Butterfly, Ecuador. Photo: A. Alexander


Western fence lizards have a bright blue belly.

Western Fence Lizard, California. Photo: A. Alexander


This skink we see in California has a dazzling tail.


Skink, California


The blue monkey. Not as blue as some of its fellow blue-named creatures, but a beauty nonetheless.

Blue Monkey, Lake Manyara, Tanzania, Africa


Birds this blue sometimes blend into the greenery; but I have spotted them from far across an opposite ridge…gasping from behind my binoculars, such stunning beauty.


Blue Dacnis, Peru. Photo by B. Page


We found these blue-headed parrots at a river bank in the Amazon. They were busy extracting minerals from the clay soil.


Blue-headed Parrots, Peru. Photo: A. Alexander


The color blue is a bit complicated when it comes to nature. Peacock feathers, for example, are actually pigmented brown, but their microscopic structure, through light reflection, expresses blues and greens.


Indian Peacock, Texas. Photo: A. Alexander explains it well:

“Unlike many other bird colors, blue is not a pigment but a color produced by the structure of the feathers. Tiny air pockets and melanin pigment crystals in each feather scatter blue light and absorb the other wavelengths. The even finer structure of the feather gathers the bouncing blue wavelengths together and directs them outward.”


I think the blue feathers on this Glossy Starling take scattering and bouncing blue wavelengths to a new high.

Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Africa


I’ve noticed some birds sporting blue always seem to be bright, like these two tanager species…


Blue-necked Tanager, Peru


Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Ecuador. Photo: A. Alexander


… whereas other blue-pigmented birds can sometimes look gray or black, depending on the light.

Little Blue Heron, Belize


Mountain Bluebird, Wyoming


Great Blue Heron, Ding Darling, Florida


These blue-footed boobies are performing a mating dance. The blue pigmentation in their feet comes from carotenoids in their fresh fish diet. The bluer the feet, the more healthy the bird.


Blue-footed Boobies, Galapagos Islands. Photo: A. Alexander


A few more of my blue favorites.

Belted Kingfisher, California


Green Honeycreeper, male, Trinidad (called a Green Honeycreeper, but more like turquoise)


Azure Kingfisher, Australia


Turquoise Jay, Ecuador. Photo: A. Alexander


Southern Cassowary, Queensland, Australia. Photo: A. Alexander


How wonderful to have all these blues in the world–so much pigmentation or light or wavelengths or whatever…to celebrate.


Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander unless otherwise noted.


Western Bluebird, California


114 thoughts on “Blue-colored Friends

  1. I was about to comment on the many shades of blue when I saw that you had just said that. Anyway, they are lovely to see in a collection like in this post. Makes us realize how many animals out there have blue colouring someplace on their bodies.

  2. Hi Jet, so delightful to see your collection of blues! fun to see the blue-footed boobies, the woodnymph, dacnis, starling and kingfisher all look so sharp. of course the butterflies and damselfly cannot be outdone. and the peacock looks so elegant! and what a thrill to see so many blue headed parrots hanging on a tree bark. photography as always is beautiful! πŸ™‚ wishing you a wonderful weekend and thank you so much! πŸ™‚

    • I enjoyed your comment, as always, Craig. Originally I had done a search on my blogsite for photos of a musical Blues mural in SF that I had decided to write about. Then all kinds of birds and creatures with the word “blue” in their name came up from my Media Library, so that’s what I decided to focus on. And you’re right, the many blue fish in the sea got left out. Many thanks.

    • I, too, thought that was a wonderful description of the light refraction, Sylvia. Usually I end up re-wording descriptions to make them clearer for readers. But this description was so perfect there was nothing I had to re-do. Always a joy to “see” you. I’ve been trying to stay more focused on the things I like, influenced by your recent post, and the blue in birds just struck me suddenly as something to pay attention to and be grateful for.

  3. I enjoyed tuning into this blue wavelength – what an array! The blue footed booby will always make me smile, such happy feet. The blues needn’t be a sad song…
    Thanks for this collection, and we hope you both have a wonderful weekend!

    • A wonderful visit as always, pc, I’m happy you enjoyed the blues today. The blue-footed booby is such a curious creature, they bring me a smile always too, pc. My warmest smiles to you and Mrs. pc, hope your weekend is full of joy and adventure. Many, many thanks.

  4. Pingback: Blue-colored Friends β€” Jet Eliot |

  5. A rhapsody in blue! Very interesting about the feather effect. How much we can learn from birds! (I’m tickled pink to see the end of summer – although here in California we’ve just begun)

    • I was thrilled to see your writer’s mind capture the perfect words, Jan: “a rhapsody in blue.” Kinda wish I would’ve thought of it…lol. It is interesting, about the blue feathers. Thanks so much.

  6. Birds are like flowers, their plumages may captivate you and their songs are equivalent to exquisite perfume. You should admire and thank Mother Nature for her precious gifts! Your post is great, my dear friend. I love it. πŸ™‚

  7. That first image of the Ulysses Butterflies is breathtaking!

    Such gorgeous shades of blue here! How very lovely and just look at Athena’s fantastic captures! I have to admit to just a tiny touch of envy that you two have managed to move around the planet getting to see all these fantastic creatures.

    Then again, we, too, have the same blue-tailed skink, not to mention the Great Blue Heron and Kingfisher, but you left out the Stellar Jay, or are they simply too common?

    • Such a delight to receive your comment, Gunta, and astute observations. I do love the Steller’s Jay, never too common; but I only have one presentable photo at the moment, and want to get a few more. Same with the Scrubjay. As I type, a Steller’s Jay is squawking below my window. Isn’t that a crazy coincidence? We have four new juveniles on the property and they get so bossy and squawky at times. Always a joy, Gunta, thank you so much.

      • Funny, isn’t it, how those juvenile Jays, not to mention the crows, can make such a racket? I’ve actually noted a difference in the behavior of some juvenile birds around here. It’s such fun seeing the kid with feathers all array following mom around begging. πŸ˜€

    • Oh so glad you enjoyed the blue-colored friends, Simone. I enjoyed your comment…I have a big smile on my face. I was so excited to find that description of structural coloration on, the best description I’ve ever read. Thanks so much, Simone.

  8. Although I’m a great fan of the musical Blues, I’ve never been drawn to the color blue. But in nature, blue isn’t just “blue” — it’s turquoise, and azure, and cerulean, and cobalt, and it’s all beautiful. I’ll confess that for years I thought the blue-footed booby was a joke, probably because we all giggled the first time we heard the name in fourth grade. But it’s real! You have photos! And it’s perfectly delightful. Thanks to you and Athena for sharing such a wonderful collection — even though it won’t make me at all blue to begin moving into autumn. I’ve had enough summer.

    • I can see you’re ready to move on to the next season, Linda, and had fun with all the blues here in spite of it not being a favorite color. When we came upon a rocky field of blue-footed boobies, it was surreal, because they really are so strange looking, as you noticed as a girl. Thank you for your visit, always happy to see you.

    • I really appreciate your attentiveness to Athena’s photography, Frank. And I’m glad I could share some of the mystery of blue feathers with you. Thanks so very much for stopping by.

  9. What an amazing collection of blue in nature! The only blue I ever see is from the Blue Jays.

    Each of these photos is gorgeous but my favourite is the cluster of parrots on the cliff. They are just adorable and I can imagine the noise. They seem to always have something to burble about πŸ™‚

    • That cluster of parrots was such a treat to behold, Joanne. We were in a large blind, waiting since dawn, for macaws to come by for their daily morning breakfast. The parrots and macaws can extract vital minerals from that riverbed. When the parrots showed up we were thrilled, and you’re right, there was a lot of squawking from the parrots. We would’ve squawked with delight, but we had to stay quiet to not disturb them. ha. My warm thanks for your lovely comment.

  10. Such hues and tones! mesmerizing. You must be a true bird watcher, maybe a pro by now….I like birds but never see them like this–up close and personal–and brilliantly colored. A. Alexander does a fab job at photographing and as ever, it was a lovely post.

  11. You’ve captured the beauty and diversity of blue in Nature so beautifully, Jet. Your last photo of the cassowary strikes a bit of fear into me though. They are quite territorial and will attack people. But then, so many species in Australia attack and are deadly as well. Right now it is Magpie season, and they swoop and strike people in the head without fear or favour. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, Australia has some really unique and beautiful and at times, terrifying, wildlife. You know cassowaries, I can see that, Draco. We had a misunderstanding with one in the rainforest in the Atherton Tablelands. We were admiring a bowerbird’s nest, and inadvertently must have come close to a cassowary nest, because the male was very unhappy with us. We never saw a nest. There were the two of us with our guide, and the guide knew right away that the cassowary was angry; so the guide instructed us to not turn our backs and step backwards out of the rainforest. It was the most terrifying bird encounter I’ve ever had, but nothing bad happened, thankfully. Liked hearing about the magpies right now. Many thanks, Draco, for your visit here, and also for your Portugal visit on your blog.

  12. You have just changed my early morning gray mood to lively happy blue. What an absolutely beautiful post – with photos that stun. In my little New England world, I just see blue jays and blue birds. No peacocks here – just lots of (brown/green) healthy wild turkeys. And gray herons. πŸ™‚

    • I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed the blue creatures I presented, Pam. We have no gray herons in the U.S., so my guess is you are looking at the Great Blue Heron; but it proves the point that if the light is not right, that heron comes out gray. Really enjoyed the gift of your words, thanks so much, Pam.

  13. Blue, in particular turquoise, is my favourite colour so it’s lovely to see so many shades of loveliness! We rarely get these vivid blues here, but I was just watching a magpie today and thinking how particularly vivid his blues and greens were.

    • The colors on magpies are extraordinary, and change so much in the presence of sunshine. How wonderful that you were able to catch some of the beauty today in your magpie, Andrea. Thank you so much.

  14. This is a beautiful collection of photographs, Jet. Hats off to Athena, too. I enjoyed the description of why the feathers look blue. I assume this applies to most blue birds, not just the peacock. They are all lovely. We have great blue herons (one of my favorite birds) that frequent the lake across the street. We also have blue jays and a tiny woodpecker with blue-grey feathers whose name I don’t know. But we have nothing here that comes close to the vibrant blues you two have photographed and written about. This was such an enjoyable post.

    • I am smiling, LuAnne, so happy that you enjoyed the blue creatures in the post, and that you also have blue birds where you live to enjoy. And yes, the blue-feather description applies to all birds, not just the peacock. Wonderful to have this array of colors, isn’t it? Thank you very much.

  15. Hey Jet!!! This is soooo wonderful!!! Wow. So many blew my mind but I had no idea anything like the Glossy even existed. Amazing! Thank You for opening my world a bit more! You always do. I hope You and Yours are well and that You’ve had a fantastic summer!!! Cheers! πŸ€—β€οΈπŸ˜Š

  16. A collection national Geographic worthy. Wowza my eyes almost popped out at the googly look of the Damselfly. I wanted to instill some eye drops at the sight of him. Holy moly to the blue tailed skink. I can’t help but think he has frozen his tail. I know so Canadian as we ponder snowfall about to come our way.
    What a fabulous collection and such a life you have lived to see all these astounding creatures.

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