Bluebirds are tiny yet adorable birds that can add more colors and life to your feeder. However, these birds are not easy to lure in. They’re reserved and generally avoid humans’ company.
Here are 6 ways to attract bluebirds:
- Offer them their favorite meal: Bluebirds are extremely fond of mealworms and prefer live ones to frozen ones. Offering them fresh mealworm can definitely lure them in.
- Install a bluebird-specific feeder: A classic seed feeder won’t be suitable for the bluebirds. Instead, get them a mealworm-specific feeder in which you can hold live mealworms easily.
- Get them a large birdbath: Bluebirds tend to enjoy bathing together in groups of 3 or more. Therefore, a larger birdbath will be more suitable for them.
- Plant trees and shrubs they’re drawn to.
- Set up nest boxes for them.
- Play for them recorded songs of bluebirds.
Are you thinking of attracting bluebirds to your yard but have no clue how to go about it? Don’t worry; we’ve got you. In this article, we will discuss all the tricks and tips that will help you in this endeavor.
Why would you want to attract bluebirds to your yard?
Bluebirds might be attractive, but they’re not easy to please. So, are these little birdies worth all the trouble? Find out for yourself:
Bluebirds have a striking plumage
The bright blue plumage of the bluebirds needs no introduction; all the birders are well aware of its beauty. All three bluebird species are colored in attractive hues of blue and rose beige.
And although most songbirds have a colorful appearance, only a few can match the vibrance of the plumage of these birds.
Bluebirds are only partly migratory
When they attract a certain bird species to their yard most birders, want them to stick around all year round and not just during specific seasons.
However, because most songbirds are migratory in nature, you can only expect them to chirp around in your yard for a particular period of time. Is the same true for bluebirds as well? Well, not really.
Bluebirds have what you can call a complicated migratory behavior; some of these birds migrate, while others don’t, for no apparent reason.
For this reason, ornithologists have declared them to be only “partly migratory.” Even the individuals that do set out for migration return back to their breeding grounds quite early.
So, what does it mean for you? It means that if you’re doing everything right, you might see the bluebirds in your yard all year long.
Bluebirds can work as pest control
Bluebirds are voracious insectivores and will readily eat grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, along with earthworms, spiders, and snails.
At times, they also feed on small tree frogs and lizard species. If they’re frequent visitors in your yard, you will never have to worry about unwanted pests. The bluebirds will gobble them all up, acting as a natural pest control service.
The bluebird population is recovering from a severe decline
Some of you might not know this, but the introduction of house sparrows in North America in the 1850s led to a severe decline in the population of bluebirds.
The little songbirds were no match to the violently competitive house sparrows and faced food scarcity regularly. The loss of their natural habitat didn’t help matters either. As a result, bluebirds were on the brink of extinction.
By the 1880s, several conservation groups were formed to address this concern. These groups revived their population by constructing nest boxes and putting out food for them.
It is a result of these efforts that the bluebird population is now listed under the Least Concern list by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
While bluebirds can now be found in abundance, these birds still have to compete for food. If you attract them to your yard, they will have plenty to eat and will never face a food shortage again.
Which bluebird species can you attract in your yard?
The family of bluebirds is a small one, with only three distinct species within the Sialia genus. Luckily for all birders who reside in North America, all three of these little birdies are found here.
Let’s take a closer look at where each species can be found within North America:
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
The Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush species declared to be the state bird of New York and Missouri.
They’re sexually dimorphic, with the males having a bright blue head, back, and wings, with a brownish-red color spread on their breast. The females have a grey head and an overall duller plumage with a few touches of blue on their wings and tail.
These birds are found in abundance in the eastern parts of the Rocky Mountain range and the southeastern parts of Arizona and Nicaragua.
They’re also found between the southern regions of Canada and the Gulf states. During winters, you can find them in Mexico.
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)
The Western Bluebird is a small but stocky member of the Sialia genus. These birds have somewhat similar coloration as their eastern cousins, with a little more grey in their underparts.
The only major distinction between them is their throat color. Unlike the brownish red breast of Eastern Bluebirds, the males have a blue breast, while the females have a grey breast.
Western Bluebirds breed in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and the southern parts of the Rocky Mountains. During winters, they can be found in the southernmost parts of their range.
Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
The Mountain Bluebird is the only bluebird species that has no orange on any part of its body. Just like their cousins, these birds are also sexually dimorphic in their coloration.
While the males have an attractive turquoise blue plumage with a white underbelly, the females are duller in comparison. Their wings and tails are pale blue, with the rest of their body (breast, back, throat, and crown) colored in grey.
As their name suggests, the Mountain Bluebirds are found in the mountainous regions of North America, extending as far north as Alaska. In the cold temperatures of the winter, these birds usually migrate south to Mexico.
Offer them foods that they’re actually interested in eating
What is the most significant factor that would motivate any bird to come to your yard? Food.
The struggle for food is a perennial problem for most birds; bluebirds, being the tiny birds that they are, are the worst sufferers in the food competition.
Therefore, if you can offer them an opportunity to eat without having to fight for it, these birds are most likely to visit your yard.
However, there’s a reason why bluebirds are considered difficult to attract to yards.
You cannot lure these birds into your yard by simply putting out seeds or nectar for them; you’ll have to work a little harder than that. But what is it that bluebirds are actually interested in eating? Let’s find out:
Mealworms: a perfect meal for the bluebirds
Bluebirds are insatiable insect-eaters and love to munch on various bugs, moths, worms, and larvae. Mealworms, in particular, are the favorite of these little birdies and hence, your best bet at catching their attention. Most birders are confused about whether they should go with live or dried ones for the bluebird when it comes to mealworms.
I’d recommend you to get live mealworms for them. Although live mealworms are more expensive and difficult to procure, they offer better nutrition to these birds than dried ones.
Additionally, since bluebirds are used to catching and feasting on living worms in the wild, live mealworms are more appealing.
Pro-tip: Avoid catching mealworms for the bluebirds on your own, as they might contain parasites or bacteria that could make the birds sick. Instead, buy these worms from a trusted supplier for feeding them.
Is your feeder bluebird specific?
While most bird feeders work well with all the seed-eating birds, you must keep in mind that bluebirds are not your typical seed-eating birds. As we’ve discussed in the last section, bluebirds are fond of eating live mealworms.
But the bird feeders that are designed to hold seeds will not be appropriate for the worms; they will easily escape from these feeders, leaving behind an empty feeder for your bluebirds.
Therefore, whenever you’re purchasing a feeder for the bluebirds, always go for mealworm feeders. There are various kinds of mealworm feeders available online; you can go for any of them.
Pro-tip: If you’re a beginner, purchase a feeder that has a basic design and is easy to clean and maintain. Also, go for blue-colored feeders if you can, as these can easily catch the attention of the bluebirds.
Add a hunting perch to your feeder
Even though the mealworms you’ve added to your bluebird feeder will certainly draw the bluebirds’ attention, these birds also enjoy hunting for insects by themselves.
If your feeder has a perch with a high vantage point from where bluebirds can scavenge insects, it will be a major advantage to them.
If you’ve already bought a feeder without a perch, you can also add other perches for them around your yards, such as wire fences, poles, and fence posts.
Just keep in mind that the height of their perches should ideally range between 6 and 7.5 feet. If you can install/build a T-shaped perch, that’s even better for them.
The right feeder placement is equally essential
Installing a bluebird-specific feeder in your backyard is only half of the work; the other half is to make sure that it is placed appropriately.
Bluebirds are attracted to open spaces where they can look for insects to eat. Therefore, if you have a meadow in your yard, placing the feeder in the middle of it would be a good idea.
Don’t overlook their need for water
As you already know, birds also need water for their survival, just like any other living being; bluebirds are not an exception to it.
In addition to needing drinking water for hydration, these birds also need to bathe in water regularly to maintain the luster of their feathers.
Installing a birdbath in your yard will not only help to attract bluebirds to your yard but will also promote a healthy environment for them.
If you’re willing to walk an extra mile, you can also install a dripper or a fountain in the birdbath. It is because moving water is more appealing to these birdies.
When purchasing a birdbath for the bluebirds, don’t go for a small one. While these birds might be small, they seldom come to your yard alone. They’re usually seen flocking in groups of 5-6 birds.
Therefore, your birdbath should be large enough to accommodate all of them at once. Additionally, a medium-sized birdbath would also be ideal for other, larger birds.
Plant flora that they’re attracted to
Did you know that bluebirds switch their diet from insects to fruits and berries in the winters?
So, if you want these little birds to frequent in your yard all year round, offering them only mealworms aren’t going to make that happen. You must provide them with fruits and berries during these cold months.
Purchasing fruits and berries and putting them into your bluebird feeder is one alternative.
However, another, more effective choice is to plant some fruit and berry-growing trees in your yard, allowing these little birdies to help themselves. Following are some of the trees whose fruits and berries attract bluebirds the most:
- Red cedar
- Virginia creeper
Pro-tip: If you’re planting these trees to attract bluebirds, make sure that these are scattered around your yard and not gathered together. As we’ve already discussed, bluebirds like having open spaces.
Nestboxes: the best way to lure Bluebirds in
If you enjoy bluebirds as visitors in your yard, you will certainly love it if they nest in it. But how can you make it happen? Well, it’s not that difficult.
Bluebirds are cavity-nesting birds that usually build their nest inside the dead and decaying trees. Now, while all the bluebird-enthusiasts can’t have a dead, decaying tree in their yard, nest boxes are the next best thing!
If you hang nest boxes in your yard, bluebirds will be encouraged to nest inside them and lay their eggs there, which will ensure their frequent sightings in your yard.
Playing recorded bluebird songs (works like magic!)
It is no surprise that the voice of a bluebird can attract other bluebirds. Therefore, if you can find a recorded bluebird song, playing it in your yard is likely to draw several of these birdies to it.
However, this is a trick you must practice with caution, as it can give them wrong indications and disturb their daily routine.
Pro-tip: You must never play bluebird songs to attract them during their nesting season because they’ve indulged in activities that are essential for the survival of their species during these months.
If they’re interrupted from their nesting activities, their eggs might be at risk.
House Sparrows can be a threat to Bluebirds
House sparrows are quite aggressive for a medium-sized bird. These invasive species are violent (the males more than the females) and will not hesitate in threatening or fighting with other birds when it comes to food or shelter.
Unfortunately for the bluebirds, house sparrows have a similar nesting preference and often threaten these little birds to take over their nests. In some cases, the male house sparrows are also known to kill bluebird fledglings in a quarrel.
If you don’t want your bluebirds to fall victim to the abusive sparrows, you must take measures to prevent the house sparrows from entering your yard.
Frequently asked questions
Do bluebirds mate for life?
No, not always. Although bluebirds are socially monogamous for one breeding season, they usually seek a new partner in the coming season. It is rarely seen that a bluebird would mate with the same partner for more than a year.
How long do the bluebirds live?
Due to their small size, most bluebirds are often preyed upon within the first two years of their life. The ones that survive in these formative years might live up to 6 to 10 years on average. However, the maximum recorded lifespan of these birds is 10.5 years.
Conclusion: How to attract bluebirds to your yard?
Bluebirds are the prettiest natural pest control you could have in your yard, with their plumage that is brighter than that of most birds. But drawing these attractive birds to your yard is no piece of cake.
They’re different from the regular birds you might spot in your yard in many ways and can be quite difficult to attract. But if you follow the pointers we’ve discussed above, you will find these little birdies in your yard all year long.