Bluebirds are a captivating species, known for their vibrant colors and melodious songs. As bird enthusiasts, it’s natural to wonder about the dietary habits of these charming creatures. And if it’s your goal to attract them to your backyard, knowing their diets across the seasons is a sure way to get them to visit. What do bluebirds eat exactly across the seasons?
Today, we’ll dive into the world of bluebird diets, exploring their natural preferences in the summer and winter and how we can best support them with supplemental feeding. By understanding what bluebirds eat – from insects and worms to fruits and berries – you’ll be better equipped to attract these beautiful birds to your backyard while ensuring they remain happy and healthy.
- Bluebirds have a diverse natural diet consisting of insects, worms, and other invertebrates during the warmer months and rely on fruits and berries when insects are scarce.
- Supplemental feeding with live or dried mealworms, softened fruits, suet, and seed mixes is crucial to supporting bluebirds’ nutritional needs throughout the year.
- To attract bluebirds to your backyard, offer foods like blackberries, bayberries, honeysuckle berries and plant berry bushes such as elderberry or serviceberry. Also provide suitable nesting boxes and natural food sources like live insects by planting flowers that attract bees and butterflies.
- It’s important to avoid certain foods like onions/garlics or commercially available birdseed mixtures that may be harmful for bluebirds; instead stick to their natural diet of insects/berries supplemented with certain preferred feeder styles including tray feeders for larger meals or mealworm dishes.
Bluebird Diets: A Comprehensive Guide
Learn about the natural diets of bluebirds and discover which types of food are best to offer them in this comprehensive guide.
1. Natural Diet af Bluebirds
Bluebirds have a diverse natural diet that mainly consists of insects, snails, worms, and other invertebrates during the warmer months. They are skilled hunters, swooping down from perches to capture their prey on the ground or foraging among foliage for hidden treats.
Examples of common food sources include grasshoppers, beetles, spiders, and crickets.
Seasonal changes impact bluebirds’ diets significantly as they adapt to shifting food availability throughout the year. During colder months when insects are scarce, bluebirds rely more heavily on fruits and berries from various plants like dogwood trees and sumac shrubs to meet their nutritional needs.
Nestlings eat the same adult diet; thus parents ensure they provide both protein-rich invertebrates and energy-dense fruits during breeding season to support rapid growth.
2. The Three Types Of Bluebirds and Their Dietary Needs
There are three types of bluebirds found in North America, each with their distinct dietary needs: the Eastern Bluebird, Western Bluebird, and Mountain Bluebird. The Eastern Bluebird is commonly found east of the Rockies, while the Western thrives in open woodlands and meadows on the west coast.
All three bluebirds share a protein-rich diet consisting mainly of insects like beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, and larva as well as berries such as elderberries, raspberries, currants or blueberries which provide essential sugars.
While they predominantly forage for their food on the ground to catch small worms or insects hiding beneath leaves or logs; occasionally you might also spot them hunting lizards or snails from low perches during spring and summer months when insects are plentiful.
Supplemental Feeding and Preferred Foods
Supplemental feeding is an excellent way to help support bluebirds’ nutritional needs, especially during times when their natural food sources may be scarce. Mealworms are a popular choice for supplemental feeding and can be offered to the birds in various forms such as live, dried, canned, or roasted.
In addition to mealworms, you can offer other preferred foods like softened fruits and berries to supplement their diets. Bluebirds enjoy consuming blackberries, bayberries, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper berries, red cedar berries and pokeberries as they provide essential nutrients needed for sustaining energy levels and maintaining good health.
Offering these foods in clean birdbaths or tray feeders with smooth sides will encourage visits from hungry bluebirds and help them thrive within your outdoor space.
Foods to Avoid
It is important to avoid certain foods when feeding bluebirds as they may be harmful to their health. Here are some of the foods to avoid:
- Onions and garlic
- Artificially sweetened foods
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Processed meats
- Bread and crackers
- Common backyard bird foods such as whole sunflower seeds and millet.
Bluebirds have a delicate digestive system, and some of these foods contain ingredients that can be difficult for them to digest or may even be toxic. It’s best to stick with their natural diet of insects and berries, along with supplemental feeding of mealworms, fruits, and suet. By avoiding these harmful foods and providing a balanced diet, you can help keep your bluebirds happy and healthy.
Bluebirds can be fed in a variety of ways, including through different feeding methods and offering mealworms, fruits, and berries.
1. Best Bird Feeders for Bluebirds
Bluebirds are small birds that require specific types of feeders to attract them. Here are the best bird feeders for bluebirds:
- Mealworm Feeders – As mentioned earlier, mealworms are the top food choice for bluebirds. A mealworm feeder will not only attract bluebirds but other insect-eating birds as well.
- Bluebird Houses and Nest Boxes – Bluebird houses serve both as a shelter and feeding station for bluebirds. They prefer nesting in houses with an elevated platform and a predator guard.
- Hopper Feeders – This type of feeder has a large container that dispenses seeds or suet cakes while protecting them from weather elements.
- Tray Feeders – These open platforms offer space for larger meals like fruits, insects, or berries, which is highly preferred by bluebirds during breeding season.
- Dome Feeders – Clear dome feeders serve as a baffle that keeps squirrels and other larger birds away from the food source while letting the smaller ones through.
- Suet Feeders – Suet is high in calories and protein, making it a great winter food source for bluebirds when insects are scarce.
- Tube Feeders with Small Ports – These types of feeders prevent larger birds from entering while allowing smaller birds like bluebirds to access the food inside.
By offering various feeding options listed above, you can attract bluebirds to your backyard and keep them happy and healthy through proper feeding practices while still keeping predators like squirrels at bay!
2. Different Feeding Methods
Bluebirds can be fed in a variety of ways, and choosing the right method will largely depend on personal preference. Here are some different feeding methods to consider:
- Platform feeders: These open-topped feeders typically have a raised edge to keep seeds and other food items from blowing away. They are great for offering larger food items like suet or fruit slices.
- Tube feeders: These tall, slender feeders with multiple ports can be used to offer sunflower seeds, thistle, or other small seeds. Some tube feeders even come with cage attachments that prevent larger birds from accessing the food.
- Mealworm dishes: As their name suggests, mealworm dishes are designed to hold live, dried or roasted mealworms. Bluebirds love these protein-packed treats and they make for a great way to observe these birds up close.
- Jelly dishes: Softened fruits like jelly are popular among bluebirds and can be offered in shallow dishes attached to poles or trees.
- Nest boxes with mealworm cups: These specially designed nest boxes have built-in cups that can be filled with mealworms or other insects during breeding season when parents need an extra source of protein to raise their babies.
- Ground feeding trays: Bluebirds may also forage on the ground for insects, so providing a shallow tray filled with live mealworms or other small insects is another option.
By choosing the right feeding method and offering a variety of foods at different times of year, you can attract and keep bluebirds happy and healthy in your backyard.
3. Offering Mealworms and Other Insects
Bluebirds love insects and will readily eat them as part of their diet. Mealworms can be offered as treats to bluebirds, but it’s important not to overdo it.
In addition to mealworms, bluebirds also enjoy a variety of other insects such as crickets, spiders, grasshoppers, snails and beetles. During breeding season especially, offering live insects is crucial for the healthy growth and development of baby bluebirds.
4. Providing Fruits And Berries
Fruits and berries can be a great supplement to bluebirds’ diets, especially during the colder months when insects may be scarce. Some fruits that bluebirds enjoy include softened raisins, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberries, and juniper berries.
It’s important to avoid feeding them overly ripe or rotting fruit as it can ferment in their stomachs and cause health problems. Another option is to plant native berry bushes in your yard such as serviceberry or elderberry to provide a natural food source for bluebirds.
Attracting Bluebirds With Food
Offering a variety of supplemental foods, including mealworms, suet, fruits, berries and cornmeal muffins can attract bluebirds to your backyard.
1. Creating A Habitat With Natural Food Sources
If you want to attract bluebirds to your backyard, creating a habitat with natural food sources is crucial. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
- Plant berry bushes: Bluebirds love berries like currants, blackberries, and elderberries. Planting these in your yard will give the birds a natural source of food.
- Include fruit trees: In addition to berries, bluebirds also enjoy fruits like apples, pears, and cherries. If you have the space for it, consider planting a fruit tree or two in your yard.
- Provide insects: As we mentioned earlier, insects are a critical part of a bluebird’s diet. To attract them, plant flowers that are known to attract bees and butterflies.
- Leave dead trees standing: Dead trees provide an excellent habitat for insects like woodpeckers and beetles. These insects can then be eaten by bluebirds.
- Avoid using pesticides: Pesticides can harm not only the insects but also the birds that eat them. Instead of using chemicals to manage pests in your yard, opt for natural methods.
By creating a habitat with natural food sources, you’ll not only attract bluebirds but also other types of birds and wildlife. It’s an eco-friendly way to enjoy the beauty of nature right in your own backyard!
2. Tips On Nesting Boxes and Shelter
To attract bluebirds to your yard, it’s important to provide them with a safe and comfortable nesting environment. Here are some tips on how to create ideal nesting boxes and shelter for bluebirds:
- Install a bluebird nest box in an open area: Bluebirds prefer open habitats like fields, meadows, and golf courses. Place the nest box in an open area of your yard or garden where the birds can easily access it.
- Choose the right type of nest box: Bluebirds prefer a nest box that is made of wood, has a smooth entrance hole, and is roughly 5-6 inches wide and 8-12 inches deep. The bottom of the nest box should have small drainage holes.
- Position the nest box properly: Nest boxes should be mounted on poles or trees at least 4 feet off the ground. They should also face away from prevailing winds.
- Provide a nearby perch: Bluebirds like to perch near their nests while keeping watch over their young. Place a small tree or shrub about 12 feet away from the nest box so that they can easily observe their surroundings.
- Offer additional shelter: In addition to nesting boxes, bluebirds will also use natural cavities in trees or shrubs for shelter and nesting sites. Consider planting berry bushes or fruit-bearing trees to attract insects and provide additional food sources for these beautiful birds.
By following these tips, you can create ideal nesting boxes and shelter that will help attract bluebirds to your yard and ensure their safety during breeding season.
3. Foods To Include In Your Feeding Station
One of the best ways to attract bluebirds to your yard is by offering them an array of foods at a feeding station. Here are some options:
- Mealworms: Offering live mealworms or dried mealworms is a great way to entice bluebirds to your feeding station.
- Suet: Bluebirds also enjoy suet, which is a protein-rich food that can supplement their insect diet.
- Sunflower hearts/chips: Bluebirds are known to love sunflower seeds, especially when they are hulled. Offering sunflower hearts or chips can be a good option for attracting bluebirds.
- Softened fruits: Bluebirds have a sweet tooth and will readily eat softened fruits such as raisins and currants.
- Cornmeal muffins/nuggets: Some birders like to offer cornmeal muffins or nuggets made with peanut butter and cornmeal as an additional food source.
It’s important to note that while these foods can attract bluebirds, it’s also crucial to provide appropriate nesting sites and habitat for them. Additionally, avoid offering foods like bread that can harm birds’ health. With the right combination of foods and habitat, you can create a bluebird-friendly environment in your backyard!
Feeding Bluebirds – Final Thoughts
In conclusion, bluebirds have a diverse diet that includes insects and fruits. As insectivorous birds, they prefer live mealworms, crickets, and beetles.
Supplemental feeding with suet, sunflower hearts, softened fruits, and cornmeal muffins can help keep them well-fed during the winter months when insects are scarce. To attract bluebirds to your yard or garden, provide suitable nesting boxes and natural food sources like berry bushes.
Remember to avoid safflower seeds as they are not a preferred food for these beautiful birds.
What Do Bluebirds Eat – FAQs:
What is the typical diet of a bluebird?
The typical diet of a bluebird is insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They will also eat berries and fruit, especially in the winter when insects are scarce.
Can bluebirds eat mealworms?
Yes, bluebirds can eat mealworms. Mealworms are a good source of protein, which is essential for bluebirds.
Do bluebirds require any supplements to their diet?
Bluebirds do not require any supplements to their diet. However, if you are feeding them mealworms, you can also offer them a small amount of calcium powder. This will help to ensure that they are getting enough calcium, which is important for their bones and feathers.
Is it okay to offer food items from my kitchen scraps to attract bluebirds?
It is not recommended to offer food items from your kitchen scraps to attract bluebirds. Kitchen scraps can contain harmful bacteria that can make bluebirds sick. It is best to offer them food that is specifically designed for birds, such as mealworms, suet, or birdseed.
What are some of the best ways to attract bluebirds to my yard?
Some of the best ways to attract bluebirds to your yard include:
- Providing them with nesting boxes. Bluebirds prefer to nest in natural cavities, such as old tree stumps or holes in fence posts. However, they will also use nest boxes that are specifically designed for them.
- Planting native plants. Bluebirds prefer to live in areas with plenty of open space and native plants. Native plants provide them with food and shelter.
- Avoiding using pesticides. Pesticides can harm bluebirds and other wildlife.
What are some of the biggest threats to bluebirds?
Some of the biggest threats to bluebirds include:
- Habitat loss. As more and more land is developed, bluebirds are losing their natural habitat.
- Competition from other birds. Bluebirds are often out-competed for food and nesting sites by other birds, such as starlings and house sparrows.
- Pesticides. Pesticides can harm bluebirds and other wildlife, including their food sources.
If you are interested in helping bluebirds, there are a number of things you can do. You can provide them with nesting boxes, plant native plants, and avoid using pesticides. You can also support organizations that are working to protect bluebirds and their habitat.