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All About Bluebirds - Feeding Bluebirds
Here is some excellent information about bluebirds and
defined: What are bluebirds?
Bluebirds, related to the American Robin, are part of the
Thrush (Turdidae) family and about the size of a small sparrow.
There are three species found in the United States: the Eastern
Bluebird (Sialia sialis), the Mountain Bluebird (Sialia
currucoides), and the Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana).
All three species are blue on the back, but differ slightly
elsewhere. Males and females differ in color and features
as well. For example, the Eastern Bluebird has a dark, sky-blue
back and a reddish-earth chest while the male Mountain Bluebird
is entirely sky-blue and the female is grey with blue in her
wings and tail. Bluejays, Indigo Buntings, and other blue
colored birds are not Bluebirds and are not related to
Bluebirds, except that they are all birds.
Where do bluebirds live?
Bluebirds generally live in three overlapping regions of
North America. The Eastern Bluebird is typically found
from the eastern half of North America to the Rocky Mountains.
The Mountain Bluebird is generally seen from the eastern
foothills of the Rockies and then west to the Pacific coast of
North America. The Western Bluebird resides west of the
What is their
Bluebirds naturally live in open fields, on prairies, and in
meadows that have only a few trees, brush, or shrubs.
Bluebirds typically do not prefer woodland habitats.
Where do bluebirds
An example of a natural nest location might be a natural
tree cavity, a rotted, hollowed-out tree limb, or an abandoned
woodpecker hole. Since bluebirds are not able to create a
nesting cavity, they are known as secondary cavity nesters.
It is interesting to note that only female Bluebirds build
nests. The male only pretends to be helping and typically
brings no nest material at all or seems to drop what he has
picked up along the way. Some of you may say this is
typical male behavior - we are unable to either agree or
disagree with that assertion.
What is a bluebird
A bluebird nest box is one specifically designed for
bluebirds in terms of size, protection, accessibility, and
durability. The design requirements must be that a)
bluebirds will use it, b) predators can not get into the nesting
box, and c) someone can monitor the bluebird nesting activity as
unobtrusively as possible. The nesting entrance hole size
differs, depending on bluebird species. Mountain Bluebirds
require a one and nine-sixteenths diameter entrance hole while
Eastern Bluebirds and Western Bluebirds need a one and one-half
inch diameter entrance hole. Stay away from any bluebird
nesting boxes having an oval entrance hole as these are proven
to allow Starlings to enter, a very bad thing indeed.
Nesting box wood must be untreated cedar or redwood.
Ventilation is also important for good bluebird feeder design
and you want to be able to plug the ventilation holes during
certain times of the year in colder climates. Do not use
pressure-treated lumber or anything similar to that. Do
not use cardboard boxes used by some schools. Do not paint
the boxes on the inside, and preferably, do not paint, stain, or
seal them at all. If you do paint the outside of the
nesting box, do not paint it white.
different bluebird species co-exist?
Yes, to an extent. Mountain Bluebirds and Western
Bluebirds compete for nesting sites and nesting boxes.
Mountain Bluebirds and Eastern Bluebirds do overlap a bit in
small regions and where they do overlap, the Mountain Bluebird
dominates the Eastern Bluebird, which may explain why the
Eastern Bluebird has not expanded any farther west than it has.
I place my nesting box?
The best place for a bluebird nesting box is on a post, such
as a fence post, and the post can be made of wood or metal.
Open areas are preferred, as placement of boxes in or near areas
thick with brush and woody vegetation likely will result in
habitation of many boxes by house wrens. Boxes should be
placed well away from buildings because of the high
concentration of house sparrows generally found near human
habitations. Mount nest boxes four to six feet above the
ground on a metal or wooden post, facing an open direction (any
open direction is fine). Nesting boxes should be placed at
least 100 yards apart, since bluebirds are territorial.
One notable exception is to use "paired nesting boxes" if
nesting bluebirds are being harassed or driven off by Tree
Swallows. Once this happens, you can quickly set up a second box
twenty to thirty feet from the first box. A Tree Swallow
pair will select one box for nesting and defend the other box
against use by other swallows, allowing the bluebirds to claim
it. This strategy makes it possible to encourage the
successful nesting of both the bluebirds and the equally
beneficial Tree Swallows.
When should I
place my nesting box?
It depends, in part, on your region and the rate of seasonal
change. In Ohio and much of the Midwest, you should have
your bluebird nesting boxes pin place by March 15th at the very
latest since bluebirds can nest as early as late March.
What is a bluebird
A bluebird trail consists of five or more bluebird
nesting boxes mounted on fence posts or pipes. The boxes are
spaced at least 100 yards apart and may be located on farms or
golf courses and in parks and even cemeteries or other areas
with low or sparse vegetation. It is very important to
select a suitable bluebird habitat. A “bluebirder” will
monitor the trail every week or two to check the progress of the
bluebirds in the area.
kinds of nesting materials do bluebirds use?
Bluebirds prefer soft grasses, fragrant pine needles, or
even strips of bark as nesting material. The nesting box
is typically not lined with soft materials, as are other types
of nests. A great idea is to offer suitable nesting
materials in a specially designed container, an empty suet cage,
or simply gather bunches of material and place into the bark of
a tree. Providing nesting materials is a strong
factor in attracting bluebirds since collecting nesting
materials is very labor intensive and can take hundreds of trips.
Accessibility to nesting materials can be a determining factor
for your bluebirds nesting choice, so you want to be sure to
can I tell if my nest is a bluebird nest?
A bluebird nest will be very neat and tidy and will be made
primarily of fine grasses or pine needles in a nice cup shape.
Occasionally, there may be cattle or horse hair in a bluebird
nest. Typically, there will be no seed heads, cigarette
butts, sticks, strings, paper, plastic, or other junk in a
bluebird nest. On the other hand, a house wren nest will
consist of a messy assortment of twigs and will occasionally be
lined with smaller fibers. A house sparrow nest will be an
assortment of things like cloth, grasses, feathers, twigs,
paper, or anything else readily available.
bluebird's natural predators?
Some of the biggest bluebird predators are other birds, such
as house sparrows, house wrens and starlings which have been
known to break eggs, kill babies and adults, and build their own
nest over a bluebird nest. Bluebird predators also include
snakes, blowflies, cats, squirrels, and raccoons, which are able
to climb the post to access the nest, and birds of prey
(raptors) which may take the fledglings as they leave the nest.
To guard against climbing predators, bluebird boxes should be
fitted with a galvanized sheet metal predator guard. The
predator guard should be placed on the pole six to twelve inches
below the bottom of the box. Also, to help deter
predation, an even coating of non-drying crankcase grease or
carnauba wax can be applied to the pole from the ground to six
inches below the box.
Bluebirds are known as "partial migrants". In the
northern sections of their range, bluebirds migrate to
more southerly latitudes for the winter. In the central
and southern sections of their range, they have less established
migratory patterns. Bluebirds have been known to
over-winter in the middle parts of eastern North America south
into Mexico, the Gulf coast, and southern Florida. Winter
bluebird populations also exist in southeast Arizona and extend
south to Nicaragua. It is believed that some winter
migration is in response to local weather conditions. Yet even
in very cold wintery weather, some bluebirds do not migrate at
all. They tend to group together for feeding and protection
during the winter months. While some bluebirds that remain
do survive the inclement conditions, many perish.
What kind of
food do bluebirds eat?
The bluebird food of choice is insects (first choice, as
much as two-thirds of a bluebird diet) and wild fruit (second
choice). Mealworms and waxworks are very popular with
bluebirds and they also enjoy grasshoppers, crickets, katydids,
beetles, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, sow bugs, and snails.
We offer a variety of live
and dried mealworms and
of which bluebirds truly love! Typically, bluebirds will
come to a feeder for seed only when insects are in short supply.
Bluebirds will also eat small berries, such as cranberries,
especially during winter when insects are not as readily
can I attract bluebirds to my feeders?
In addition to offering bluebird food favorites, be sure to
mount your bluebird feeder away from any bluebird nesting boxes
since you don't want to attract predators to the nest box.
Of course, you want to always have food available for bluebirds.
An excellent idea is to offer a combination of live and dried
mealworms, for example, in your feeder so there will always be
food available, even if the live mealworms have been eaten.
Where can I buy
We believe the best place to buy
bluebird food is right
here! Our bluebird food products are of the highest
quality and our prices are very competitive. We also offer
combo packages of dried
dried waxworms as well as
live mealworms and
live waxworms so you can
try a little of each.
Order your bluebird food today!