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Is “blue bird” in the following quotation from Lady Chatterley’s Lover referring to an actual bluebird?

The lush, dark green of hyacinths was a sea, with buds rising like pale corn, while in the riding the forget-me-nots were fluffing up, and columbines were unfolding their ink-purple ruches, and there were bits of blue bird’s eggshell under a bush.

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Believe it or not, the truly intriguing question here is not the eggshell, but rather figuring out what the devil the cited ruches are. It’s not a particularly common word. A ruche per the OED is “A frill or quilling of some light material, as ribbon, gauze, or lace, used to ornament some part of a garment or head-dress.” –  tchrist Dec 25 '13 at 3:06
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2 Answers

It seems more likely that shells from robins' eggs, which are blue, are being referred to.

Edit: (Besides striking out robins' from the above sentence in light of informative comments, I've deleted an irrelevant paragraph about robin egg blue and a robin's eggs photo, in favor of the following:)

Several species of birds are possible candidates, including the Song Thrush, Turdus philomelos. Here's a picture of their eggs and a brief description of the bird, from wikipedia:

song thrush eggs

The Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) is a thrush that breeds across much of Eurasia. It is also known in English dialects as throstle or mavis. It has brown upperparts and black-spotted cream or buff underparts and has three recognised subspecies. Its distinctive song, which has repeated musical phrases, has frequently been referred to in poetry.

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I doubt it. D.H. Lawrence was English, and there are no American robins (Turdus migratorius) in Britain; the English robin in completely unrelated, not being thrushes like the American ones are, and has brown eggs, not blue ones. That same reasoning also rules out bluebirds (genus Sialia from the Turdidae family), another kind of American thrush similarly absent in Britain. There are, however, European turdids of varying sorts, which are all named either blackbirds or thrushes, depending, which might have the correct eggshell color. –  tchrist Dec 25 '13 at 2:40
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And welcome to Birding.SE! –  tchrist Dec 25 '13 at 2:42
    
@tchrist, thanks, I didn't know that (about the birds). I've edited answer. –  jwpat7 Dec 25 '13 at 3:07
    
Sure. I wish they’d asked about ruches instead. :) –  tchrist Dec 25 '13 at 3:08
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No, a blue bird is not a bluebird. A bluebird is a type of American thrush, and there are no bluebirds in Britain where the novel you cite from is set. This is a bluebird:

eastern bluebird

as is this:

mountain bluebird

Those are both bluebirds. There are no bluebirds in Europe, only in North America.

The famous color “robin’s egg blue” refers to the American robin, not to the European one, whose eggs are the wrong color.

Furthermore, the robins of Europe are not thrushes, and do not have the blue eggs characteristic of the American robin. Rather, they have eggs that look like this:

euro-robin's eggs

The phrase

bits of blue bird’s eggshell

is applying blue to bird’s eggshell. So it is the blue eggshell of some bird.

It is possible that it is shell of the Common Blackbird, a European turdid and thrush whose eggs look like this:

euro-blackbird eggs

The so-called “Common Blackbird” acts just like an American Robin, whose genus it shares. It rather looks like its cousin, too. It just has a solid brownish black breast, not the redbreast that our own Robin is so famous for. (Which is in fact orange, but why we are calling orange red—well, that’s another tale.)

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