Bird of the Week #2: Eastern Bluebird

Last year, I had exactly zero Eastern Bluebirds visit my feeders. I tried so hard to get one to show up by putting out the foods they loved, specifically mealworms. This year, though, I have at least three daily bluebird visitors and they are beautiful!

There are two males and one female. I’ve named them Mr. Bluebird, Mrs. Bluebird, and Uncle Bluebird. I’m hoping another female will show up and pair off with Uncle Bluebird so they can make chicks and get even more bluebirds to come by next year.

Most of a bluebird’s diet is bugs. They really like grasshoppers, but I can tell you for a fact they also go nuts for dried mealworms. Bluebirds aren’t really into seeds, so attracting using birdseed won’t work. You might be able to get them to stop by with fruit, as that’s their second favorite. But bugs are their thing, which makes them nice to have around if you want a little natural pest control. If you occasionally set out mealworms, you’ll get bluebirds coming by to at least check to see if you have any. The only drawback is that mealworms attract starlings well, who will gorge themselves on all of them in one sitting. And, unfortunately, mealworms can be pricey.

I like to mix a single handful of mealworms into the food mix in my platform feeder. That way the bluebirds will have to forage around a little bit in order to find the worms and may stay a little longer so you can get a good look at their beautiful feathers.

I’ve seen other products at stores designed to attract bluebirds, but I haven’t tried any. I’m honestly skeptical because mealworms already seem to work so well. These products, such as bluebird nuggets, are treats and will attract birds besides bluebirds just like mealworms will. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a food that only one bird likes, nor is there a single magic food that only the “good birds” enjoy.

Depending on who you ask, the Eastern Bluebird is either a summer or a year-round bird in Wichita. I started seeing these Bluebirds in late February, so I would lean on them being year-round residents from my purely anecdotal experience. That being said, you’re probably more likely to see them in the warmer months. The further north you go in the state, the less likely you will see a bluebird in the cold months.

Bluebirds are family-oriented birds. Bluebirds usually mate for life, though there are exceptions. What I found most interesting is that once a brood of bluebirds is old enough and the parents lay a second brood, the first brood will help raise the second one. Kind of like how humans use their teenagers as free babysitting for the younger kids.

You can tell apart the males and the females pretty easily. The male is a purely blue on its back, while the female is more gray.

Bluebirds are cavity-nesters, so they will use birdhouses if provided. You’ll need to watch carefully to make sure starlings don’t try to take over the nest, though, as they both use the same type of nest. Fortunately, starling nests are not protected by the Migratory Bird Act and you can just evict them. Hopefully, a more beneficial bird will come along.

Bluebirds are also beautiful singers. I mentioned before how setting out mealworms occasionally will draw them in to at least check your feeder for more, even when you don’t have any. Another plus side to doing so means the bluebirds will stick close and you may get to hear them sing.

The Eastern Bluebird is a welcome addition to any birdfeeder. They aren’t aggressive with other birds, don’t hog up feed, are gorgeous, and make wonderful songs.

I hope you learned something new about the Eastern Bluebird. Do you have bluebirds at your feeders?

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