Attracting Bluebirds to watch their nesting and feeding habits can be done by placing birdhouses correctly, and, monitoring those birdhouses to prevent other species from using them.
By providing the right types of food and cover for them to raise their young, you'll make your backyard more inviting and have a greater chance at attracting these beautiful birds.
The following information is provided to help you understand the needs of bluebirds and how you can attract them to your backyard.
Once declining in population, these birds are finally beginning to make a comeback. It's interesting to note, these birds were once as common as the American Robin.
Numbers declined in part, from nest competition with House Sparrows and the European Starling, both introduced species. Loss of habitat is another factor.
Through the efforts of birding groups, public education, and your help, these birds will have a better chance at survival than they once had.
Eastern Bluebirds measure 6 1/2 inches in length. The male has bright blue upperparts, reddish breast, and white belly.
The female has a buffy throat and breast, grayish-blue head and back with light blue wings and tail.
Bluebirds can be found in rural gardens, orchards, and suburban gardens near open farmland.
The breeding season for these birds begins in April and will go through July, although a couple of weeks on either side is possible. The fact that these birds are cavity nesters makes them ideal candidates for a birdhouse
In fact, if there was ever a bird in need of our help in providing nest boxes, it is the Eastern Bluebird.
The nest is made of grasses, plant stems, pine needles, and lined with hair, feathers, and fine grasses.
The nest is placed in a birdhouse, or abandoned woodpecker hole usually 3-20 feet above ground.
The female lays 1 egg each day until the clutch size reaches between 3-6 pale blue eggs.
The female will begin incubating the eggs when the last or next to last egg is laid.
Incubation will last between 13 - 16 days and the young will leave the nest within 15 to 20 days from hatching.
The male will often keep feeding the fledglings while the female begins a second nest.
After the young leave the nest, they are taught by the male how to find food and to protect themselves from predators.
These flegling birds may stay together through Fall and join other flocks later. By early Spring, they'll claim new territories and not nest where they were born.
If you plan on putting up a bird house, place it on a pole within 5 - 6 feet off the ground. This will allow access for monitoring which should be done. An entrance hole should be 1 1/2 inches in size.
I can guarantee House Sparrows will be a problem and every attempt should be made to keep them out. Removing nest, trapping and any and all legal action should be taken.
The better you control House Sparrows, the better your chances will be of attracting and hosting these birds near you.
The quick answer regarding cleaning Bluebird houses is: it's up to you.
It's different depending on where you live as to whether Bluebirds prefer a clean house, or a house with their old nest that has successfully reared young for renesting.
A good idea would be to check for blowfly and mite infestation before just removing the nest and cleaning the house between broods. This should happen as soon as the first brood leaves and after any successive broods.
With gloves and mask (for your protection) gently remove the nest and check for blowfly and mite infestation.
If none, let the breeze take care of feather dust and replace nest for second brood.
If nest is heavily soiled it might be a good idea to remove the contents, place them in a bag or burn them in your burn pile.
Some people recommend a cleaning solution of 10 percent bleach to water ratio to scrub the house. That's up to you and recommended at the end of the season or before the birds return. Rinse well if using bleach.
Sometimes Bluebirds build nest on top of exsiting nest. This puts them closer to the entrance hole and at a greater risk of predation. Lower nest may need to be removed in this situation.
Nest boxes may be used up to 4 times per season.
For winter roosting you can add a layer of straw for insulation to help the birds survive cold nights. Sometimes the birds will add additional material in winter.
When it comes to feeding, what Bluebirds eat is a large amount of insects. Eighty percent of their diet comes from insects during spring and summer.
In addition to insects, these birds eat berries and fruits off of small trees and shrubs.
You may want to try placing dried fruit and/or chopped peanut kernels on a platform type feeder.
There are other ways to lure these birds, the best of which is to offer them mealworms in a Mealworm feeder. They love mealworms.
You can offer live or dried mealworms. Place them in a tray feeder or a specially designed feeder so that other birds don't get to them before the Bluebirds.
Mealworms are inch-long larvae, with brown, crusty shells, available from pet supply stores or online.
Providing Dried Mealworms in winter is a good idea. They are inexpensive and last a long time. You'll also be helping other birds in winter.
Since the bluebirds remain in winter in a lot of places, a Heated Birdbath can supply the open water they need to survive.
An open water source is critical during cold weather as most water is frozen over. All life needs water year around.
Bluebirds will also roost in birdhouses in winter. Sometimes 6 or more will enter a house at one time.
A roosting house has an opening at the bottom which helps keep the heat from rising and going out through the entance hole of a traditional nest box.
Many folks see the birds entering in the birdhouse and think they are nesting. Usually, they are just checking it out for later in the evening.
They may even bring in what looks like nest building material. Most likely it is just to create more warmth.
Some Bluebird Roosting Houses can be purchased where they can be converted from winter to summer nesting by removing the front and flipping it so the opening is where you want it to be.
You may be surprised to see Bluebirds in February and March in 10 degree weather but it is very common.
Yes, even in New York and even Minnesota. Nesting will even begin in March in these areas.
Nights below freezing are tolerable for these birds without any problems. Even eggs being incubated will be fine as long as the adults are there to take care of things.
Do not interfere during these times. Any eggs not viable will be removed and a new clutch will be laid.
The lifespan of the average Eastern Bluebird is 6 - 7 years in the wild.
Check out this page where visitors talk about seeing Bluebirds in Winter
Additional Information About Blue Birds
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