Feeding Bluebirds

Feeding Bluebirds


Why don’t Bluebirds visit my feeders like other birds?
During the nesting season, the bluebird’s diet consists mostly of ground insects. Later, during fall and winter they switch over to berries when necessary. Their beaks simply are not designed for cracking open seeds and is why they are rarely seen at feeders. The exception may be a feeder that offers hulled sunflower chips in winter but as long as insects and berries are readily available, in all likelihood, they won’t visit this type of feeder either.

There are, however, bluebird feeders in which you can place mealworms that the bluebirds will readily accept. Some people just put them in an open plate or platform feeder, but other birds will also scoff these morsels up quickly.

Typical Bluebird feeders will look similar to a house with Plexiglass or slotted sides so the birds can see in, with 1 1/2″ entrance holes (like a nextbox) on each end so they can enter and leave easily and will keep most other birds out.

Feeder pictured at right can be ordered from The North American Bluebird Society at: http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/catalog/feeding.html

Handy? Build your own feeder…
For the handyperson, here is a link for a different design with detailed plans so you can build your own:

Photo at left shows one I built pretty much using the above plans but elected to change a few dimensions to suit my needs and available materials…

Bluebirds LOVE mealworms and these can be purchased at most local sporting or fishing stores where they are sold for bait. Mealworms can be somewhat expensive at these stores but may offer an immediate source if needed in a hurry.

PHOTO AT RIGHT: Looking through the Plexiglass end, you can see Bluebirds will quickly learn to find your offerings. The slots on the sides also allow Bluebirds to enter and keep most others out.

The following suet mixture is an excellent food source for winter months and some Bluebirds may even try it in summer/fall:

1 cup Lard or suet
1 cup Peanut Butter (plain or crunchy)
1 cup Cornmeal
3 cups Oats (Quaker cereal type)
1 cup Sugar (less is ok, but the full cup is great for a winter calorie boost in cold climates)
Melt lard and peanut butter together. Stir until blended. Add all the other ingredients one at a time for smoother stirring. It should be thick. You may add extra oats or cornmeal if it is not thick enough. Pour the mixture into a greased pan, cool in refrigerator and cut or spoon into the proper shape for your feeder (some small plastic containers are already the shape and size for most suet feeders). Chopped peanuts, chopped raisins, sunflower hearts, and powdered sterilized eggshells can also be added to this mixture.
If you don’t use much or would like to make larger batches, this recipe can be readily frozen for later use.

This mixture can also be offered in the Bluebird feeders mentioned above.