Creating a Bluebird habitat in your backyard
Like most birds, bluebirds need food, water and shelter. Bluebirds however, are particular about what they like. In this article we will discuss proven techniques for attracting Bluebirds and some interesting facts about bluebirds.
Did you know?
Bluebirds are a member of the Thrush family and they are related to the American Robin. Bluebirds are very beneficial, they eat large quantities of insects. These beautiful birds were once very common in the United States. However, their numbers have dwindled due to loss of habitat, introduced bird species and overuse of pesticides.
Put up a nest box or two or three … specifically designed for bluebirds with no perch, and a 1 1/2-inch-diameter entrance hole for Eastern and Western Bluebirds (Mountain Bluebirds require a slightly larger entrance, approx. 1 9/16). The nest box should have drainage holes in the bottom and ventilation holes at the top of the sides. The floor should be about 4 x 4 inches for Eastern Bluebirds and 5 x 5 inches for Mountain and Western Bluebirds.
The nest box should be placed in an open, mowed habitat such as open fields, farmlands or pastures, large lawns or parks. The nest box should be mounted about 4 to 5 feet off the ground on a metal pole, wood/fence post or even a fence T-post. You can also mount the box on a structure or even a tree if the tree is in the open and trimmed high as long as the house faces an open area. Use a baffle to protect the box from predators. Be sure the boxes are up by early March, before nesting starts. Leave nest boxes up year round. Birds will use it in the winter as a roost to protect them from the cold and elements.
You should clean the nest boxes out. Bluebirds won’t use a box that is full of sticks or wasps. You can clean the box at the beginning of the season (February or March) and after each brood of babies fledge to help encourage multiple broods.
Food and Water
A bluebird’s primary diet consists of insects, fruits and berries. As an insectivore, they love mealworms. Especially live mealworms. You can buy mealworms live or freeze dried. But you will have much more success with live mealworms. Planting fruit trees and berry bushes are a great idea to attract insect/berry birds like bluebirds. Bluebirds are also known to occasionally eat sunflower chips, insect suet and bluebird nuggets (a suet covered peanut). While these are not primary attractants, they can be used to supplement the more expensive live mealworms.
There are a variety of feeders for meal worms. Something as simple as a glass cup with about an 3/4 to 1 inch lip will work. If you encounter competition for the worms from other birds like Robins, you can use a traditional bluebird feeder (see picture above / left). This type of feeder has an opening that a bluebird or wren can fit through, but larger birds can’t.
All birds need water and a birdbath is a great way to attract birds. With a birdbath can often see bird species that you wouldn’t normally see at a seed feeder. Keeping liquid water year round will keep the birds coming. In the winter there are heated birdbaths or submersible heaters for your existing birdbath. Be careful not to let water freeze in a clay or cement birdbath, it may crack. Fountains are another excellent way offer water. As well as creating a wonderful ambiance, birds are attracted to the moving water of a fountain!
- Bluebirds can have one to four broods / clutches per breeding season.
- An Eastern Bluebird may lay 4-7 eggs. Four or five is most common.
- Bluebirds will use a communal roost during the winter.
- Bluebirds are unique to North America.
- Male bluebirds deliver food to incubating females and participate equally in feeding nestlings and fledglings.
- Bluebird nests are built mostly by the female.
- Young bluebirds leave the nest 15-20 days after hatching.
- Before pesticides, farmers would put up nest boxes around their fields because bluebirds eat many insects.